nomina si pereunt, perit et cognitio rerum

“if the names are lost,

our knowledge of things dies too”.

So pray tell us, enlightened ones,

how is language to be saved?


Not by annotation, nor consecration,

nor by locking words down like sticky burrs

that may cling to those

who prowl our perimeters;


because Welsh, written,

is but a stuffed fox;

its ‘mid-air paw’ will move no more,

its glassy eyes unseeing.


Its verve comes from being voiced;

and on children’s tongues, it will live on.


Ifor ap Glyn
Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru | National Poet of Wales

(This is a poem by National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, for the launch of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages, here in Wales. Translated from the original Welsh by Ifor ap Glyn himself.)


Back to Ifor ap Glyn: National Poet of Wales 2016 – 2022