Monday, December 22, 2014

Rowland Watkyns

Rowland Watkyns (c.1614—1665) is a Welsh poet who, in 1635, was instituted as vicar of Llanfrynach, Breconshire. However, he was one of five clergyman in the area who were ejected, around 1649, from their parishes by their puritan overseers. Around the time of the restoration (1660) it is believed he was reinstated. Some of the poems in his collection, Flumma Sine Fumo (which means Flummox Without Smoke) (1662) "appear to express his gratitude to local benefactors".

One of the three sections in Flumma Sine Fumo is made up of 73 proverbs, written in the form of rhyming couplets. The following mourns the death of Charles I in 1649, who was king of England, Scotland and Ireland:

----By his beheading it may well be said,
----Three kingdoms by injustice lost their head.

Although Watkyns was a contemporary, and close neighbour of Henry Vaughan, and their political and religious views were compatible, neither is found to have mentioned the other by name. Both wrote about Christ's Nativity, which was disapproved of as a feast day by the puritans. This has led to speculation that they may have disliked the other's approach to poetry; what may be more likely, is that they practiced medicine, from opposing schools of practice.

Upon Christ's Nativity

From three dark places Christ came forth this day;
From first His Father's bosom, where He lay,
Concealed till now; then from the typic law,
Where we His manhood but by figures saw;
And lastly from His mother's womb He came
To us, a perfect God and perfect Man.
---- Now in a manger lies the eternal Word:
The Word He is, yet can no speech afford;
He is the Bread of Life, yet hungry lies;
The Living Fountain, yet for drink He cries;
He cannot help or clothe Himself at need
Who did the lilies clothe and ravens feed;
He is the Light of Lights, yet now doth shroud
His glory with our nature as a cloud.
He came to us a Little One, that we
Like little children might in malice be;
Little He is, and wrapped in clouts, lest He
Might strike us dead if clothed with majesty.
----Christ had four beds and those not soft nor brave:
The Virgin's womb, the manger, cross, and grave.
The angels sing this day, and so will I
That have more reason to be glad than they.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.