• Breichiau Morfudd (Morfudd’s Arms)
  • Siom (Disappointment)
  • Morfudd fel yr Haul (Morfudd like the sun)

  • Duration: 10 minutes
  • Soloist(s): Soprano
  • Instrumentation: Piano
  • Published by: Novello

First performed as part of the ‘Concerts at the Crossroads’ series on 2 June 2012 in Beulah United Reformed Church, Rhiwbina, Cardiff by Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) and John Reid (piano).  These three pieces take their inspiration from the 13th century Welsh poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym and are addressed to Morfudd, the wife of an Aberystwyth merchant who seems to have had a long affair with Dafydd.

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Translations: Professor Dafydd Johnston

1. Breichiau Morfudd / Morfudd’s arms

Morfudd’s bright gentle snow-covered
arm (cheeks bright as the sun)
caught me (it was easy even if it were bold)
head to head in the shelter of a leaf-house;
the clasping of a knot of refined love,
the two wrists of a pure wise girl.

The enchantress bound me so slyly;[long] life to the girl of enchanting praise
who keeps for me (seizing in splendid manner)
my pampering like a nurse.
I am fearless, no coward, bold of brow,
and black and without care
with my faithful girl’s two arms
around me in a good birch glen.

2. Siom / Disappointment

I gave my love to a fickle girl
and got nothing in return for it.
I regretted loving
an unfaithful girl, it caused me pain,
as I loved Morfudd, courteous lady,
colour of day, I care nothing for her.
Morfudd, my dearest, did not want
to be loved anymore – what a sorry business!

By well-intentioned artistry
I had the minstrels learning and singing songs about her
to the furthest reaches of Ceri,
sheen of fine snow, for her sake.

It was Morfudd who caused this
without one hour of love, and not by my will.
May God pronounce in the end
a just judgement between me and her with the face like gossamer.

3. Morfudd fel yr haul / Morfudd like the sun

I am waiting for a soft-spoken girl,
sheen of fine snow on a stony field.
See, o God, that she is a radiant girl,
brighter than a crest of foam,
colour of a bright resounding wave,
an ardently bright girl, she is modest.
She knows how to earn a love song from my lips,
best aspect of the sun beside a cloud,
the people’s mistress [or dawn] in mantle of fine fur,
she knows well how to mock an ugly man,
lovely Morfudd, pity the weak frivolous poet
who loves her, beautiful Gwenhwyfar.
The girl’s appearance is a golden web, woe to
that handsome man crying out in anguish.

Over the earth’s immense expanse
the sun comes like a dazzling girl
beautifully within the body of a single day,
shepherdess of the sky from end to end.