literature

William Blake, map-maker

January 22, 2022 0 Comments
William Blake, map-maker

You can’t wander far in south and mid-Wales in the early years of the nineteenth century without coming across the name of Benjamin Heath Malkin.  The second edition of his book The scenery, antiquities and biography of south Wales, published in two volumes in 1807, was described by the historian R.T. Jenkins as ‘by far […]

Continue Reading »

Cymraeg ar y mynydd

January 8, 2022 1 Comment
Cymraeg ar y mynydd

Enillydd cyntaf Gwobr Ysgrif O’r Pedwar Gwynt yw Rebecca Thomas, cymrawd ôl-ddoethurol yr Academi Brydeinig ym Mhrifysgol Bangor. Ei maes academaidd yw hanes Cymru yn yr oesoedd canol cynnar, a chawn beth o’i gwybodaeth drwyadl o’r pwnc yn ei hysgrif fuddugol, sy’n dwyn y teitl ‘Cribo’r Dragon’s Back’.  Er yn fyr, mae’r darn hwn yn […]

Continue Reading »

Melesina Bowen’s ‘Ystradffin’

December 24, 2021 2 Comments
Melesina Bowen’s ‘Ystradffin’

In recent years many Welsh women poets of the past have been rescued from the condescension of posterity, not least in the anthology edited by Katie Gramich and Catherine Brennan.  But one of them has so far escaped much attention.  In 1839 Melesina Bowen published an unusual topographical poem in English called Ystradffin.  It deserves […]

Continue Reading »

The black man and the atheist

November 5, 2021 0 Comments
The black man and the atheist

I’ve been reading, for the first time, A pilgrim’s progress.  I suspect that’s a rare event these days, at least in this country.  It’s easy to forget that John Bunyan’s book was for several centuries the most widely-read book in English, after the Bible, and the English book most often translated into other languages.  Calvinists, […]

Continue Reading »

Moonrise

October 29, 2021 1 Comment
Moonrise

Among the eleven ‘Welsh sonnets’ of Gerard Manley Hopkins are counted some of the outstanding poems written in English in the nineteenth century.  They include ‘God’s grandeur’, ‘Pied beauty’ and ‘The windhover’. Hopkins came to live in St Beuno’s College near Tremeichion in the Vale of Clwyd in August 1874 to continue his extremely long […]

Continue Reading »

John Clare and the snipe

October 15, 2021 0 Comments
John Clare and the snipe

Slow radio at its best achieves what no amount of ‘fast radio’, with its assumption of the attention span of a hoverfly, can achieve: thought connections that stay in the mind long after the programme has ended.  Paul Farley’s recent day (half an hour on the radio: The Poet and the Snipe) looking, in vain, […]

Continue Reading »

Y cartŵn Cymraeg cyntaf?

August 20, 2021 2 Comments
Y cartŵn Cymraeg cyntaf?

Yn ôl Marian Löffler, hwn yw’r cartŵn cyntaf i ymddangos mewn print yn yr iaith Gymraeg.  Mae’n wynebddalen mewn llyfryn gan Thomas Roberts a gyhoeddwyd yn Llundain yn 1798, Cwyn yn erbyn gorthrymder. Brodor o Llwyn’rhudol Uchaf ger Pwllheli oedd Thomas Roberts.  Cyfreithiwr oedd ei dad, William.   Ganwyd e yn 1765 neu 1766, a symudodd […]

Continue Reading »

Walters: gwallter’s top 10

May 14, 2021 3 Comments
Walters: gwallter’s top 10

Walter was already an old-fashioned forename in 1952, when my parents donated it to me.  To be fair, they were anxious about the commonness of my surname, and eager to load me with as many other names as they could, to avoid misidentification (later, my brother suffered the same fate).  By the time they reached […]

Continue Reading »

Edward Thomas in Gower

April 23, 2021 2 Comments
Edward Thomas in Gower

At last some warmth returned with the sun, and I took the rough path along the top of the cliff between Rotherslade and Limeslade.  The sea was calm, empty and quiet, except for one thing: the bell of a floating buoy, its clear sound carried over the water by a light onshore breeze.  I’ve been […]

Continue Reading »

Billie Holiday’s last day

April 9, 2021 2 Comments
Billie Holiday’s last day

Billie Holiday died aged 44 in a New York hospital at 3:10am on Friday 17 July 1959.  Some failed to notice. The New York Times published a short obit, but only on page 15.  But for those who cared about her and her music, the news was a bitter shock.  One of them was Frank […]

Continue Reading »