On a quarry footpath
When the Llithfaen workers walked to work at the Nant quarries in winter, they had to claw their way along the path through the pass on all fours in very stormy weather.
Who are they, crawling crabwise
to their work in the teeth of a gale?
Men tied to this rock for bread
And their fingernails there like chisels,
Summer or winter, the same yoke
Of rock around their shoulders.
But they, on a path in the sky,
Bent, stumbling to the mountain
Top, they are the cornerstones
Of our walls – and we,
So far from the cutting wind,
Are off-cuts of what they were.
© Myrddin ap Dafydd 2008, English adaptation © Susan Walton 2011
Ar lwybr chwarel
Pan gerddai gweithwyr Llithfaen i’w gwaith yn chwareli’r Nant yn y gaeaf, byddai’n rhaid iddynt grafangu ar hyd llwybr y bwlch ar eu pedwar pan fyddai’n stormus iawn.
Ar eu pedwar, pwy ydynt
’ddaw i’w gwaith drwy ddannedd y gwynt?
Gwŷr caeth i fara’r graig hon
A’u gwinedd ynddi’n gynion,
Haf neu aeaf, yr un iau
O gerrig ar eu gwarrau.
Ond hwy, ar lwybr yr wybren,
Yn plygu, baglu i ben
Y mynydd, hwy yw meini
Conglau ein waliau – a ni,
Mor bell o gyllell y gwynt,
Yw’r naddion o’r hyn oeddynt.
© Myrddin ap Dafydd 2008 from Bore Newydd, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch; reproduced with the author’s permission
The original, Welsh poem can be seen carved into the sculpture sited between the village of Llithfaen and the precipitous descent to Nant Gwrtheyrn (formerly Porth y Nant). The poem refers to the nearby Nant granite quarries. Porth y Nant was derelict for many years, but was resurrected in the 1980s as the Welsh language teaching centre of Nant Gwrtheyrn.
More of my adaptations of Myrddin ap Dafydd’s verses (and those of other poets) accompany Martin Turtle’s photographs of Llŷn in the bilingual book Hud a Lledrith Llŷn / Llŷn a Magical Place.