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Nvni o'n BarddoniaethI


Nvni o'n Barddoniaeth I The New Poetry of Wales oedd testyn darlith Mr. W. Hughes-Jones, B.A. (Elidir Sais) gerbron Cymdeithas Genedlaethol Lerpwl nos Wener ddiweddaf; Mr. T. Taliesin Rees, ) F.R.I.B.A., yn y gadair a'r Mri. O. W. Owen, M.A., J. H. Jones, a W. Garmon Jones, M.A., yn diolch i'r darlithydd am ei draethiad galluog a ffres ond yn barnu'n bur wahanol iddo ar lawer o'r hyn a ddywedodd. Er mwyn chwarae teg, a rhag tywyllu dim wrth gyfieithu, wele rediad y ddarlith yn yr iaith y'i traethwyd I have said that I can find little but the Welsh Language as a spiritual achievement of the centuries. What else ? The Welsh Bible ? Yes, but it counts in the language achievement. The death of John Penri he fought for sermons in Welsh Griffith Jones, for schools in Welsh John Morris Jones for his Grammar of Welsh. Yes, all of them possessed a Virtue. What else ? Some one will reply: Yes, but give Wales a chance. Her day has only just dawned. Look around you now. Can't you hear everybody around you saying Wales is at last coming to her own." Now for the achievements. Now for the soul of the people So I look for it. Where shall we begin ? London or Aberdaron ? Hold it in mind that we are seeking achieve- ments with spirit, with soul in them, as we find in the French Academy, The British Museum, The Law Courts, The Times News- paper, The University Boat Race, The Nat- ional Theatre at St. Petersburg, The Opera of Poland based on the Folk Song, The Party of the Young Turks, The Politics of Mazzini. There is nothing incongruous in associating these phrases and names with the phrase spiritual achievements. But think of it in connexion with the Welsh Party at West- minster. Can you imagine a conception of it and its work as a spiritual achievement ? Do you know of anything in the world with so puny a corporate soul ? The Irish members have one ideal. The Labour members have a common inspiration. The Welsh members have nothing, but as many ambitions as the number is of them. They are a body without a spirit, and I fail to see how there can be much of a spirit in the nation that can suffer long so soul-less a lead. But there is the Cymrodorion Society (for which I have great respect, it has done great work), very proud of itself the other day on account of a great thing it had done. Its correspondent wrote to all the papers, as if to say, See Wales, what I've done for you at last. Don't be too eager. No, I haven't persuaded the Cymrodorion to give a pension to one of your poor poets. No, I haven't thought about asking any of the poets to come and speak to our Society. You see they are not very learned nor quite classy enough. Nor can I say that I have ever offered to publish a Welsh writer's book for him, because, you see, they must be poor, these men, or they couldn't be poets and men of letters. Nor have I thought, with all the money we've got, of publishing Islwyn, and Dafydd ab Gwilym, and Ceiriog in beautiful editions very cheaply for the people, that would be too modern for the Cymrodorion, not antiquarian enough, do you see ? As it is, we have quite enough to do with Wales in the Stone Age. No, my dear Wales, let me tell you at once I've invited somebody great to my Cymrodorion Banquet. Who ? O. M. Edwards, John Morris Jones, Henry Jones, Pedrog, Dyfed, Gwynn Jones-No, no, not a Welshman, an Englishman, I said a great man," and so on. And we all know that the Speaker of the House of Commons is a very .fine Englishman, but it was not at all a very fine thing for the Cymrodorion to boast of having got him to come to dinner, when there are many mora lowly and more honourable things to be done by way of encouraging letters in Wales. Then there is the Eisteddfod, a huge, un- wieldy, helpless, frothy leviathan, floundering blindly once a year in a field, pretending to be a highly complex and perfect and effective organism carrying on the intellectual life of Wales from year to year, developing it, extending it, a true epitome of the nation's progress. But it is nothing of the sort. There is no more progress in it than in that of a log idly drifting on the ocean. You have only to attend the local committees of a National Eisteddfod to know how contempt- ible is its organization. Some time ago I attended six or seven meetings of a literary Committee of the National Eisteddfod, and the ignorance and bad taste and conceit that were exhibited there was bearable only by reason of the utter humour of it all. Look at the programs too of the last ten Eisteddfodau, and you will see how foolish it is to say that the Eisteddfod is a great progressive, delicate, intellectual or artistic national institution. One gets one's moments of ecstasy occasion- ally talking with a radiant bard on the green outside the tent (for you very seldom see the bards inside), and when the great choirs are singing there is a gross, material, mercenary thrill about the place, wanting to know who will win. But there is no more spiritual' achievement about the whole business than there is about a mass of impotent stone outside a quarry in Arfon. And there is Thursday, the great Chairing Day of the Eisteddfod. What does the local committee say about it nothing about the Chairing and its spiritual meaning, but rather, whatever else happens-get Lloyd George down and he has gone down to the last five or six Eisteddfodau, and spoilt completely every Chairing Day he's been present at. People crowd to the Eisteddfod that day out of sheer vulgar curiosity, they come there to see Lloyd George and nothing else, they overcrowd the pavilion, they abuse the adjudicators, they are impatient with competitors, they hiss the choir adjudication, they miss the whole point of the ceremony. They want Lloyd George. I I have heard him now on five occasions speaking on Chairing Day, and I have never listened to more futile and self-conscious and ad hominem commonplaces in my life. He says nothing or these occasions that would be of spiritual guidance to the nation for the following year. He comes there saying he must not talk politics or give away stage secrets, so he just talks honeyed nothings and pats everybody on the back, garbles some- thing|about GwIad'y^Bryniau, and sits down. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the whole attitude of our political leaders to our national institutions. They just trifle with them, and flirt with them, and use them to become popular. And I say this to you, and I have no fear of saying it to them either, tlaat it is a great shame they should do so. I look forward to a day, Mr. Chairman, when our political leaders should be our spiritual leaders too, to explain Virtue to us as well as The Insurance Act to be the fathers of their constituencies, as well as mere nurses before a general election to go often to the homes of the poor people, as well as to feast at the tables of the mighty to put young men on their feet as well as knock their political opponents down to come down off the platform more and wave their arms about less to be the priests of their people as well as to be their idle and luxurious represent- atives. That is my Poetry of Public Life. Let me turn for a moment to our Religious Institutions. I went to a great Cyfarfod Pregethu some little time ago. I went there, I believe, in a reverent and zealous spirit I went there, too, because in an English city I was to share in an institution so dearly peculiar to Wales. I went because I should find there the best expression of the spirit- uality of the Cymry. I came back with a bitter taste in my mouth, with tears almost ready to flow, with a disappointed heart. I was there an hour or two before time. There was great excitement in the passages and schoolrooms because, there being two preachers, one was to preach upstairs in the chapel to a congregation of a 1000 and the other in a little schoolroom for the overflow of about two hundred. One of the preachers was loved for his chaste, pure, soft-voiced eloquent, ascetic spirituality. The other was known for his great and often inspiring torrent of words. Where would the first preach, asked everybody of one another. But the secret was rigidly kept in the Set Fawr. Where are you going ? Where are you going ? asked everybody. There was a flutter and a wildness about, like that on a Stock Exchange. Some cynic facetiously declared the odds. Of course, the milder. the sweeter, the more soulfull orator, took the back seat, and preached below. I heard the other. There were nigh a thousand of us, mostly young people, there crushed together i n a badly ventilated chapel, curious for emotional excitement, a desire from which the spiritual had oozed out long before. The singing was heavy, unwieldy, artless, ugly. The organ had no soul. A scratch choir in the organ loft for the occasion played fearful havoc with a delicate anthem. The preacher in a harsh, rough voice, tried to force the congregation into emotion. The congregation was cold and passionless, which only exas- perated the orator into more strident and high-pitched phrases. Many of us went home hurt to the core of the heart. It is with great sincerity, and a great reverence for what I consider the higher things, that I say the whole achievement, from the tactics of the deacons to the chattering in the aisles and the I, rushing out of the doors at the end, was vul- gar. It was religion without the innate spirituality in its forms which is every heart's deep down desires. Mr. Chairman, I hope you will believe me when I say that I did not go to that meeting with prejudice, and that all I have said is a superficial fancy of mine. It is my heart's experience that I have told you, and I hope you will forgive me if I have said anything that appears hasty and in- temperate. If you have not asked me here to say what I have felt, I would rather be dumb than tickle your ears with mere words only. Now there is a great deal to be done by Wales in the Sphere of Literature, a sphere that has been one of the great channels of spirituality since the day of the first poet in the world, for it was he really who first ¡ discovered spirituality apart from the mere flesh. So I find the Calvinistic Methodist Association, with its large amount of money, unearned increment, mind you, made from its Book Room, about to take over The Traethod- ydd, one of the great spiritual and national reviews, honourable for the spiritual literary efforts of Dr. Edwards alone, to take it over chiefly for the dissemination of its own theology, with an occasional tit-bit about Art and Literature, for which the Sassiwn is very sorry. If you write up to them about it, it cannot afford to pay for a long literary article of 15 or 16 pages but 15/- or so. Now, the Sasiwn, as I have said, has thousands of pounds in the Bank, derived from its sale of Literature, and this niggardly appreciation is unworthy of so noble a body. If it had a sense of the spiritual possibilities of all the forms of culture, it would have handsomely endowed the Traethodydd and presented it to the nation as a great patriotic review, to propagate Poetry, Virtue, Beauty, Truth, in a large and appealing way, instead of turning it into a soul-less machine for its own purpose. The other would have been a spiritual achieve- ment indeed. The Anglican Church in Wales, for a moment. Most of you have read in to-day's papers the speech of Bishop Owen on the Disestablishment Question (I am not going into politics), I think it is a very admirable speech, with potentialities of Virtue in it. I should like somebody to ask the Bishop of St. David's what are his ideas about Giraldus Cambrensis. I never could quite understand why the Palace of this see is at Abergwili near Carmarthen, and not at St. David's. If I were Bishop of St. David's, I think I should live at Abergwili, too, if I were afraid of St. David's haunted by the spirit of Giraldus Cambrensis. For I consider that one of the great spiritual attempts of Cymric national history was the effort of Gerald Du Barri and later of Owen Glyn Dwr, to get an Archbishop- ric of Wales established at St. David's. What an opportunity for Gerald there would have been to-day, and what a chance have the prelates of Wales missed at this Disestablish- ment time to do a great spiritual thing for Wales, by making the Welsh Church inde- pendent and national in the only true sense. If they had said, Let us break with Canterbury let us keep the endowments, leave us to our- selves, for we have a work to do in Wales. If he had said this, then I say he himself would be surprised at the response Wales would have given to him. He would have touched Virtue. He would have been a great man. I think Giraldus Cambrensis would have done it to-day. And so, treating this Disestablishment question quite in the spirit of a spectator, I fail to find virtue and spirit f uality on either side. The demand is political, the defence is political. One spark of the spiritual on either side would set Wales on fire. I have now come to the end of my intro- duction. Why have I not said anything about Welsh Poetry ? about the poems of the Poets, of the New Poets ? Because I've got j nothing to say about them. The New Poetry of Wales has not yet been written. It cannot be written while there is so little Poetry in our I Public, Civic and Religious Life. -0


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