Monday, October 25, 2021

Pennar Davies

Pennar Davies (1911―1996) is a Welsh poet who in his latter, most-productive years exclusively wrote in the Welsh language. He was educated at University of Wales, Oxford, and Yale; he became a Congregational minister in Cardiff, and subsequently a professor of Church History. He took on the name Pennar, which is a stream running through Mountain Ash where he was born. He authored four poetry collections and four further books. His hymn “All Poor Men and Humble” (translated by Katharine Emily Roberts) appears in eleven hymnals. There are also several biographical books available about him, including a biography by Dawn Dweud, Saintly Enigma by Ivor Thomas Rees, and his autobiography Diary of a Soul.

He was a member of the separatist political party Plaid Cymru, became the Literary Editor for The Welsh Nationalist paper where he published work by R.S. Thomas, and was a significant advocate for Welsh-language broadcasting.

His son Dr. Meirion Pennar followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a leading Welsh language academic, translator and poet.

When I Was a Boy

When I was a boy there was a wonderous region
the other side of the mountain:
the sun livelier there, in its prime;
the moon gentler, its veil of enchantment
resting chastely on hill and dale;
the night like a sacrament,
the dawn like young love,
the afternoon like sliding on the Sea of Glass,
the evening like a respite after mowing;
the faces of ordinary folk like china dishes
and their voices like the soliloquy of countless waters
between the source and the sea,
and the people sons and daughters of old,
princes and countesses in the court;
and all the lines of nature, thought, society
and talent and will and sacrifice
and the saving and the wretchedness and the peace,
all the lines of venture, claim compassion,
meeting at eye level there
in an unvanishing vanishing point
called Heaven
and all on the other side of the mountain
in Merthyr, Troed-y-rhiw and Aber-fan
before I crossed the mountain
and I saw.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.