The Secret Pages: Lasynys Fawr

One fine evening of warm sunny summer, I took a stroll to the top of one of the mountains of Wales, carrying with me a telescope to assist my feeble sight by bringing distant objects near, and magnifying small ones.
Ellis Wynne, Gweledigaetheu y Bardd Cwsc (The Visions of the Sleeping Bard, translated by George Borrows).

Which mountain of Wales Ellis Wynne strolled up
with his telescope is unimportant:
his bard’s gift came through sleeping on the summit.

The green-petticoated, red-hatted rout
that carried him off was a wrapping of madness
around the hilltop truths his spirit new perceived.

I have hauled my feeble sight up many
Welsh mountains, but my vision is unchanged:
I have not returned wisdom to the waiting tribes.

I have failed to condemn those great thieves
whose work is masked by custom, law or place;
too willingly denounced the robber on the road.

What sanction, though, remains in a world of particles?
The Great, lying through their monuments, are
no more extinct than the victims of their pride.

My diagnosis of my lack is this: in all my ascents
I did not night the summit. Too late now,
I offer only the study’s candled truths.

Notes:

Lasynys Fawr: The birthplace of Ellis Wynne, author of one of the earliest classics of Welsh literature, Gweledigaetheu y Bardd Cwsc, which denounces the vices of the world. Around 1990 my father was part of a fund-raising committee which looked to buy Lasynys Fawr and open it as a centre dedicated to Ellis Wynne. His bard’s gift: In Welsh tradition, someone who spent the night on top of Cader Idris would either die, go mad or become an prophetic bard.

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