Saturday, 7 April 2018

Why not Rename the Bridge after Dafydd ap Gwilym?

So, the Westminster Government, with the permission of her Majesty the Queen, have chosen to rename the Severn Bridge, linking Wales and England, after the Prince Charles, by naming it the ‘Prince of Wales Bridge.’ 

This decision is not one I see as a stand-alone decision, but rather as part of a trend of naming landmark after landmark in Wales after the Prince of Wales.  It was only two years back that the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was renamed Principality Stadium. 

Now, in an article in Nation Cymru, I, Abraham, argued that Plaid Cymru should be less republican, and more like the SNP.  But the renaming of landmark after landmark in Wales after Wales’s Principality status, particularly when, this time, the Welsh people have not been asked, is something I oppose as much as any Republican does. 

This is no doubt an act that is designed to be provocative.  Alun Cairns himself admitted that he knew Welsh Republicans would not like it, and I believe he sees it as a win-win situation where he can anger the Welsh Nationalists up the wall and hope that latter in turn alienate the electorate through their angry republicanism. 

How Plaid Cymru responds is absolutely critical.  The argument they should be making is that Wales’s landmarks should be used to commemorate the people that Wales produced – and that the people of Wales should decide, in a poll, perhaps. 

And there are a great number of famous Welsh people to choose from – David Lloyd George, Owain Glyndwr, Dic Penderyn, Iolo Morgannwg, Llywelyn Fawr, and many more. 

But I would choose Dafydd ap Gwilym, and here’s why.  Dafydd ap Gwilym was perhaps one of Europe’s greatest poets in the fourteenth century – some of his most notable works include Merched Llanbadarn,   Trafferth mewn tafarn and Cywydd Y Gal, among many others, although the last one mentioned is considered very naughty.

He is arguably the Chaucer, if not the Shakespeare, of Welsh literature.  Yet unlike those two men, how many Europeans today will have even heard of him?  How many Welshmen even will have heard of him?  Not very many. 

I once read an anti-Welsh Language article by a Monmouthshire man, who seemed to believe that Welsh did not even have any historic literature at all – and I am sure many people in Wales, if not the majority, have that idea.

Chaucer and Shakespeare however, are names that are known throughout the world.  The only reason why Dafydd ap Gwilym isn’t a tenth of a hundredth as widely known as Shakespeare, even in Wales itself it seems, is not because Dafydd ap Gwilym was a bad poet – far from it – but because his language was not one that would be spread and glorified by Empire – but rather one that fell victim to it. 

Naming Wales’s greatest entry point after one of Wales’s greatest writers wouldn’t make Dafydd as widely known as Shakespeare on the global stage – but at least it will make his name more widely known amongst his own countrymen. 

It would also be sufficiently apolitical, and so could unite both nationalists and unionists, although the anti-Welsh Language brigade would probably scream and shout – and that, of course, would be no bad thing.    

1 comment:

  1. I looked that last Dafydd ap Gwylim poem up and there's a copy of it and transliteration into modern Welsh spelling and a translation, and an article on it at (NSFW)!