Bobi Jones

The Welsh Language

She has the cement that joins us as a people again.
The foundations are hers, and beneath her the drains of our blood
Run through her underground mystery. The rocks have been raised
In order, a dwelling-place for us: the past possessed
Is a door to our fair present. Let us walk inside
And own what she owns. Since hers is the strongest
Cement ever: let us boldly live within her
Against all stormy weathers… We need only pay the rent.
The rent must be paid. But pay? Good Lord!
For a bed whose match was never spread beneath any sea,
For music, benches on all sides, songs of every savour,
For bread hot from the Lord God’s oven!
Pay! Fool! Had we all the lives in Creation,
We could not pay one-hundredth of the grief of bearing her ­obliteration.

Delicate her columns of breath, finely wrought!
They rise up high from their fair foundations.
Yet a crowd runs from her, their hands screaming aloft,
Her air foul to their ears and vomit to their mouths.
Some try like a mole to hold her on their shoulders, fearing
Her fall every second. But no one is able
To escape her. She is like life that closes
Widely around us. It’s pointless for the servile
To seek another hearth: she’s completely the world
And every pain is her pain, every weakness her weakness.
She is a temple where generations gather: in her
The prayers and the praise that can heal burn incense.
Oh! language that stood in the teeth of centuries of storm like a miracle
On the slopes of worn mountains, take us into your gates.

— translated from the Welsh by Joseph P. Clancy