Picture of a judge's wigThis Is Not A BLOG!Picture of a judge's wig



Date: 03/11/11

Diwedd Y Gn?

England flag indicating that there's an English translation of this piece

Mewn ffordd, nid yw'r newyddion fod Gerallt Lloyd Owen wedi rhoi'r gorau i'w ddyletswyddi fel Meuryn Y Talwrn yn fy synnu rhyw lawer. Fel y disgrifiais yn y darn hwn, yr oedd yn eithaf amlwg yn Eisteddfod Wrecsam fod ei iechyd yn bur fregus (er nad oedd hynny'n effeithio ar ei afiaeth wrth bwyso a mesur cynnyrch y beirdd). Mae'n amlwg hefyd fod yr holl deithio sydd ynghlwm wrth gadeirio a beirniadu beirdd anystywallt ledled y wlad yn debyg o fod yn faich ar unrhywun yn ei iawn gorff a phwyll. Ac felly, peth doeth fuasai iddo ildio'r awennau tra gallai.

Mater am awr arall fydd myfyrio uwchben yr oblygiadau i'r Talwrn o ymadawiad yr Arthur hwn o'n lln, a gofyn pwy allai ddilyn yn l ei draed a llenwi ei esgidiau er mwyn cyflawni'r daith honno.

Mae'n bwysicach o lawer i gymryd cyfle i fawrhau a moli un sydd 'i ddylanwad yn ddwfn ar farddoniaeth Gymraeg, er nad ydyw'r dylanwad hwnnw o bosibl o'r math y disgwyliai'r dyn ei hun wrth iddo ddechrau ar ei yrfa farddonol bron i hanner canrif ynghynt.

Oblegid mawr ydyw dylanwad Gerallt Lloyd Owen ar farddoniaeth Gymraeg yn ein hoes ni. Pan ail-ddechreuodd Y Talwrn ar Radio Cymru ar ddiwedd saithdegau'r hen ganrif, bu gan farddoniaeth Gymraeg o hyd arogl cryf y capel a'r ysgol arni i raddau helaeth. Yr oedd hyn yn arbennig o wir ym maes y canu caeth, rhywbeth nad oedd gan y to ifanc o feirdd a gododd ym mwrw brwydrau'r iaith a'r genedl fawr i'w ddweud iddo. Hyd yn oed pan ddechreuais innau wrando ar Y Talwrn yn rheolaidd (ac yn selog wedyn) tua 1984, rhyw loches i feirdd hŷn oedd y gynghanedd, efo bron pob un o'r enlgynwyr a'r cywyddwyr a glywid ar y rhaglen yn swnio fel petai ar fin cyfansoddi ei englyn beddargraff ei hun. Er bod clec y gynghanedd yn dechnegol gryf, clec dannedd gosod oedd honno hefyd, neu felly yr ymddangosodd i mi ar y pryd.

Ond yna, yn ail hanner y degawd hwnnw, gwelwyd rhywbeth arbennig; yr oedd beirdd ifainc yn dechrau ymwneud fwyfwy 'r mesurau caeth ac - er mor simsan i raddau wrth gychwyn arnynt - yn dod ag ysbryd a hoen newydd i'r hen ffurfiau, yn canfod trawiadau cwbl newydd ac yn trafod pynciau newydd trwyddynt (yn ogystal ag ymwneud 'r themu tragwyddol, wrth gwrs). Bu adfywiad ysgubol, nes bod statws y canu caeth bellach ar ei gryfaf o bosibl ers dyddiau Dafydd ap Gwilym.

Buasai'n annheg i briodoli hyn i gyd i ymdrechion Y Meuryn, wrth gwrs. Am flynyddoedd, bu beirdd eraill yn cyfrannu'n helaeth i barhad, twf a ffyniant y gynghanedd trwy eu dosbarthiadau a'u hesiampl; y diweddar Roy Stephens i enwi dim ond un. Ond roedd Y Talwrn yn digwydd ar goedd gwlad, yng ngŵydd y werin a'r bonedd diwylliannol fel ei gilydd, ac felly yn cael effaith llawer ehangach na sesiynau mewn ambell i ysgoldy neu festri capel.

Gellid priodoli llwyddiant ysgubol Y Talwrn - o safbwynt yr effaith y mae wedi cael ar o leiaf dwy genhedlaeth o gyswynfeirdd - i radd helaeth iawn i natur y dyn fu'n ei lywio cyhyd. Ac yntau wedi bod yn dipyn o enfant terrible barddonol yn ei ddydd ("Wylit, wylit Lywelyn/Wylit waed pe gwelit hyn", eniwon?), efallai na ddylai neb synnu gormod fod ganddo le yn agos at ei galon i feirdd ifainc, boed eu llafur ar gaeau cyfyng yr hen arddull neu ar beithiau eang y canu rhydd. Fe'u hysgogwyd ac fe'u hannogwyd gan y Meuryn, ac yntau'n ymhyfrydu'n amlwg yn y cynnyrch a gaed gan feirdd ifainc megis Twm Morys, Mei Mac a Thudur Dylan (oedd, mi oedden nhw'n ifanc ar un adeg, blant!) a'r sawl ddaeth yn eu sgl hwythau.

Ac ni chafodd yr effaith honno trwy rwygo cynnyrch y tyros hyn yn ddarnau; ond yn hytrach trwy bwyntio - efo cadernid tyner - at wendidau'r gwaith dan sylw ac awgrymu gwelliannau iddo. A siarad yn blaen, bu fel y math gorau o athro; yn ysgogi a hyrwyddo trwy fod yn adeiladol a thrwy gosod esiampl.

Gellid dadlau efallai fod ei fyth-bresenoldeb wrth lyw'r Talwrn wedi cael effaith andwyol oherwydd i'r swydd gyfyngu ar yr amser fu ganddo yntau i farddoni; ond er cymaint gallai'r colled hwnnw fod, mae ei gymwynas i holl fyd barddoniaeth Gymraeg yn rhywbeth pwysicach o lawer er mwyn sicrhau parhad conglfeini ein lln.

Ac rŵan, mae dyddiau ei feurynna'n dirwyn tua'u terfyn. Ond nid ydyw'r cochyn hwn wedi "digwydd, darfod megis seren wib" fel llwynog arall gynt; bydd l ei lafur a'i lawenydd ar dudalennau ein barddoniaeth am genedlaethau eto i ddod. A dyna pam y mae'n ddilys ac yn deilwng i mi - na fu erioed yn fwy nag un a ddymunai fod yn fardd go iawn - dalu teyrnged iddo tra bod y dyn ei hun dal ar dir y byw.

Petaswn i'n fardd am y byd, mi ganwn gywydd iddo cystal ag unrhyw un luniodd ei hen gyfaill Dic Yr Hendre gynt. Ond mae fy noniau wrth drin geiriau yn gaeth i fyd rhyddiaith, felly - gan ystyried mor ffodus y bm wrth weld Gerallt yn llywyddu dros Y Talwrn am, mae'n amlwg bellach, y tro olaf - y cyfan gallaf fynegi ydy diolchgarwch am fod un cystal wedi llywyddu ar a llywio ein hetifeddiaeth farddol cyhyd.

(Ychydig blynyddoedd yn l, ysgrifennais erthygl ar gyfer gwefan hanes darlledu Transdiffusion ar Y Talwrn ar gyfer y sawl y tu hwnt i'n diwylliant oedd yn anwybodus fod y math rhaglen yn gallu bod. Gallwch ei darllen yma.)

**********

The Last Verse?

(Note: before you go any further, I suggest you read this article which I wrote for Transdiffusion a few years ago, as it gives some useful background for what follows.)

In a way, the news that Gerallt Lloyd Owen has given up his duties as Meuryn on Y Talwrn hasn't greatly surprised me. As I recounted here, it was pretty obvious at the Wrexham Eisteddfod that his health was fragile (although that didn't affect his zest as he weighed and measured the poets' contributions). It's also clear that all the travelling involved in chairing and keeping order on unruly bards throughout the land would be a burden on anyone sound in body and mind. And so, it was wise of him to yield the reins while he still could.

Consideration of the implications of the departure of this Arthur of our literature on Y Talwrn, and pondering who might be able to fill his shoes and follow in his path, is a matter for another day.

Far more important is to take advantage of the opportunity to praise someone whose influence on Welsh poetry runs deep, although the kind of influence is possibly not one the man himself would have expected to have had when he started his poetic career nearly half a century ago.

For great has been the influence of Gerallt Lloyd Owen on Welsh poetry in our times. When Y Talwrn recommenced on Radio Cymru at the end of the seventies of the old century, Welsh poetry still had a strong whiff of the chapel and school about it to a large degree. This was particularly true of poetry in the strict metres, something to which the generation of young poets which had arisen in the ferment of the battles over language and nation seemingly had little to say. Even by the time that I had started listening regularly (and, later, zealously) to Y Talwrn in about 1984, cynghanedd was a sort of refuge for the elderly, with almost every contributor to be heard on the programme sounding as if they were about to compose their own epitaph. Although the click of the cynghanedd was still technically strong, it was the also the click of dentures, or so it appeared to me at the time.

But then, in the second half of that decade, something special happened; young poets were taking an interest in the strict metres and - however shaky they were to begin with - came to bring new spirit and verve to the old forms, finding new connections, and dealing with new topics through them (in addition to the eternal themes, of course). There was a remarkable renaissance, so that by now the status and strength of the strict metres is possibly greater than at any time since Dafydd ap Gwilym.

It would, of course, be unfair to ascribe all of this to Y Meuryn's efforts. For years, other poets had contributed extensively to the continuation, the growth and the flourishing of cynghanedd through evening classes and by example; the late Roy Stephens being only one such instance. But Y Talwrn was in public, in the sight and hearing of noble and common alike, and so had a far wider effect than sessions conducted in schoolrooms and chapel vestries.

The remarkable success of Y Talwrn - from the point of view of the effect it has had on at least two generations of budding bards - can be attributed in large degree to the character of the man who steered it for so long. He himself having been something of a poetic enfant terrible in his day ("Thou wouldst weep, thou wouldst weep, Llywelyn/Weep blood were you to see this", anyone?), perhaps no-one should be surprised too much that he held a special place in his heart for young poets, be their travails in the narrow fields of the old ways or on the expansive prairies of vers libre. They were inspired and encouraged by Y Meuryn, and he in turn took delight in the works produced by young poets such as Twm Morys, Meirion Mcintyre Hughes and Tudur Dylan (yes, children, they were young once!), and those who have come after them.

And he didn't have that effect by ripping the produce of these tyros to shreds; rather, he would point out - with tender firmness - the weaknesses of the poem in question and suggest improvements to it. To put it bluntly, he was like the best kind of teacher; urging and promoting by being constructive and by setting an example.

It could perhaps be argued that his near-ever-presence at the helm of Y Talwrn has had some negative effect because it limited the time that he had to write his own work; but however great that loss could be, his contribution to the whole world of Welsh poetry is of far greater importance in order to ensure the continuation of the cornerstones of our literature.

And now, the days of his judgment are coming to an end. But this red-haired creature has not "happened, vanished, like a shooting star" like another wily creature of poetic legend; the mark of his work and his joy will be seen on the pages of our poetry for generations yet to come. And that is why it is right and proper for me - who was never more than someone who wished he were a poet - to pay tribute to him whilst he remains in the land of the living.

If I were any sort of poet, I would write him a cywydd the equal of any composed by his own old friend Dic Yr Hendre. But my word-herding capacity extends no further than prose, so - considering how fortunate I was to see Gerallt presiding over Y Talwrn for what is now, clearly, the last time - all that I can express is my gratitude that such a one has presided over and directed our poetic inheritance for so long.