Sunday, September 27, 2009


Waldo Williams was a Welsh poet, born 30 September 1904, with Sun in Libra. Wikipedia tells us that he was also a notable pacifist, anti-war campaigner, and Welsh nationalist. The first two I applaud, the last, not so much - but to each his own. I particularly like this poem of his, the fourth verse especially contains great wisdom.

The Welsh are justly proud of their mystical tradition. Waldo's poetry is said to be strongly influenced and inspired by
"the mystic revelation he had as a youth about the unity of the whole of humankind. This revelation was realised in the cooperative and harmonious living he witnessed amongst the farming communities in the Preseli Hills and reflected in feelings of belonging, knowing, and a desire that people should live together in peace – constant themes in his poetry."
See Welsh Icons.

What is it to be human?
by Waldo Williams

What is staying alive? To possess
A great hall inside of a cell.
What is it to know? The same root
Underneath the branches.

What is it to believe? Being a carer
Until relief takes over.
And to forgive? On fours through thorns
To keep company to an old enemy.

What is it to sing? To receive breath
From the genius of creation.
What's work but humming a song
From wood and wheat.

What are state affairs? A craft
That's still only crawling?
And armaments? Thrust a knife
In a baby's fist.

Being a nation? What can it be? A gift
In the swell of the heart.
And to love a country? Keeping house
In a cloud of witnesses.

What's the world to the all powerful?
A circle spinning.
And to the children of the earth?
A cradle rocking.

Translated by Menna Elfyn
From Poetry Foundation.


anthonynorth said...

That a beautiful and deep poem.

Twilight said...

anthonynorth ~~~ Yes, I thought so too. :-)