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"Awen yn codi o'r cudd ac yn cydio'r cwbl"
- Waldo Williams
(Awen arising from hiding and everything binding)

Mathafarn and the Dyfi Forest


... and on that day I walked up behind Mathafarn, an eighteenth century farmhouse built on the site of the home of the same name of Dafydd Llwyd ap Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. This fifteenth century poet and prophet predicted the revival of Welsh fortunes and the defeat of the English. Legend has it that Henry Tudor stayed at his house in 1485 on his way across Wales to Bosworth in England where he defeated Richard III and so became Henry VII of England. Dafydd died not long afterwards probably thinking that his prophecy had been fulfilled. History knows differently.

It is said that some of the barns and other outbuildings still remain from the original house. But they were hidden from view as we climbed up from the valley of the River Dyfi to the forested hills above. The sun remained low, not far above the trees even at Midday, but the day was bright and cold as high pressure kept the air still and the temperature low. Clearing the conifers of the Dyfi Forest for a while, the open hillside has scattered trees with bare branches to contrast with the drab green of the Douglas Firs and Sitka Spruce of the forestry plantation. Here the twiggy outlines merged to a reddish mist on a distant hillside. In the far distance the distinctive ridge of Cadair Idris dominated the horizon. Such clear, cold weather in December, with the sunlight angled low, gives a particular quality to the light and the perception of colour. Everything seems so pellucid, as if the bright but subdued light is shining through the components of the landscape rather than reflecting off them.

Back amongst the enclosed conifer forest the suffused light is more densely poured over - and absorbed by - the green branches. The path winds down steeply through the trees and meets a forest road. Ditches and puddles glisten half way between a frozen and a liquid state. The Sun is behind the hills and the light begins to fade. Separate objects begin to cohere. We pass a ramshackle farm as we descend further to the valley floor and leave the forest behind. A dog barks. Light ebbs away as we pass Mathafarn. It is lost in the dim past. Did Henry Tudor stay there?

An unlikely piece of doggerel ascribed to Dafydd suggests he sent him on his way with a blessing:

Harri a fu, Harri a fo
Harri y sydd, hiroes iddo!
(Henry who was, Henry who will be / Henry who is, long life to him)

But all is now dark. 


  1. Lovely (and rare) use of the present subjunctive of bod as a future. Standard in Breton though. (Sorry, I can't help noticing these things!).

    Beautiful piece---and what a gorgeous house.

  2. The house is now an up-market B&B so it's possible to stay there, at a cost!


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