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Powys Anthology, A

Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • Author: Dewi Roberts
  • Publication Date September 2003
  • Format: Paperback, 210x149 mm, 169 pages
 
An anthology of poetry and prose in English and translations from the original Welsh dating from the 1st to the 20th century by various writers and poets comprising presentations on the topography and history, religion and the people of Montgomeryshire.

Gwales Review

In this attractive anthology, adorned with the Red Kite on the front cover, the reader is taken through the new County of Powys in a series of extracts, many of them from unexpected sources.

Powys is called a ‘neglected county’, but many of the familiar names associated with the old Powys are here: the writers Eiluned Lewis, Hilda Vaughan, Iorwerth Peate, Geraint Goodwin, Kilvert and Henry Vaughan among others, and the familiar place names Gregynog, Llanbrynmair, Capel y Ffin, Pennant Melangell and Llandrindod. Dewi Roberts, however, has drawn upon many unfamiliar and ‘neglected’ publications for some of the entries, e.g. The Royal Tribes of Wales, A Pedestrian Tour through Wales by Joseph Hucks; the English Works of the Rev. Walter Davies; D.J. Williams, Fishguard.

Writing of Gregynog in the eighteenth century, Philip Yorke maintains ‘. . . it would be difficult to find another house where the visitor was more perfectly at his ease . . .’ In the early twentieth century Gregynog was owned by the two sisters Margaret and Gwendoline Davies who ‘. . . dedicated their considerable inherited wealth for the benefit . . . of their fellow countrymen in Wales.’ Still in Montgomeryshire, the poet R. S. Thomas remembers the hard winter of 1947 at Manafon rectory, ‘. . . one night that winter we had forty-two degrees of frost. I can remember the house cracking as the ice took hold of it.’

The clergy seem to come in for special notice, not always for the right reasons. Robert Roberts, as a young schoolmaster in Castle Caereinion found that ‘. . . the Rector’s name stank in the nostrils of all the people. I never knew a man so thoroughly hated by all classes alike.’ One can hardly believe Thoresby Jones’s description of the vicar of Painscastle in 1859, but Francis Kilvert’s account of his visit to ‘the Solitary’ bears the same testimony. In complete contrast is O. M. Edwards’s entry on William Morgan ‘. . . in the solitude of Llanrhaeadr translating the Bible into Welsh’ words which R. S. Thomas describes as:

‘an heirloom. Beauty
Is how you say it’

Raymond Garlick recalls Saunders Lewis’s lecture on Ann Griffiths at ‘an English chapel’ in Newtown:

‘began
His panegyric, preaching Ann
Ann and her wheeling words
Brushing Wales like a spring of birds.’

Traditionally, we think of Radnorshire as a county of ‘characters’; they are here in abundance in the works of Bruce Chatwin, Sian James, Melvin Humphreys, S. Baring-Gould, A. Scriven and D.J. Williams, whose Llandrindod landlady is a gem. We feel a sense of place in the poems of Ruth Bidgood, Islwyn Ffowc Elis, Cledwyn Hughes, Alun D.W. Owen; George Herbert and Henry Vaughan are here in their own right as well as poems by Seigfried Sassoon and Joseph Clancy, not forgetting Jan Morris’s tribute to ‘the Silurian’.

Mari Ellis