Non’s Well

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Ffynnon Non

Waters broke from a rock when Non,
pregnant, gripped it in a storm. By the well
Dewi was born: such tales do legends tell.

Now the waters that sit in the bowl of the rock
are still; beyond, waves break on the beach;
far out on the sea dolphins break the swell.

The view from the headland out over Bride’s Bay
is of islands, Sgomer, Sgogwm and between
and further out, too far to see, Gwales

keeping its secrets, where Brân’s head
sojourned while time stood still, the company
enchanted by the singing of Rhiannon’s birds.

Here a light spray showers down
as clouds break for a brief asperging
of a moment, which passes like the rain

as soon as it came, bringing a blessing
as did the touch of water from the well,
shaping a story : a tale I have to tell.

Non’s Well is a mile or so outside Tyddewi (St David’s) in Pembrokeshire where the cathedral to Wales’ patron saint is located. Non was his mother as told in his biography, though whether he was born here or further north in Ceredigion, the territory of Non’s father Ceredig, is disputed, as is often the case in legendary history.
But this site was already a place of significance and the well remains mythically present.


The story of Brân’s head and Gwales is told in the second of the four Mabinogi tales.

Eisteddfod Tregaron 2022

A field of gathering where folk come together

In its centre the Gorsedd circle

Bards welcome those who are worthy

Under the sign of Awen

Bring them into the bond of belonging.

Induction of new members of the Gorsedd

The Dragon Lord

Delightful to the Dragon-Lord …

After the final lines of ‘Mydwyf Merweryd’

(‘I am the Pulse …’) from The Book of Taliesin

Delightful to the dragon-lord

are songs from Gwion’s river

Flowing through the halls,

the scent of fair weather,

A horn full of mead

fragrant with honey and clover,

Druids skilled in Awen

– nothing pleases him better!

So the bard instructs the chieftain as to what is valuable and what, therefore, should please him: Gwion’s River : the flow of inspired song, fine weather, fragrant mead and the inspired utterances of his poets.

Bride’s Well

Bride’s Well

(Coed Tan yr Allt – a hidden place)

In these woods there is a place where water
Wells to a still pool in a cleft of rock
Like crystal, in which a sibyl might augur.

To enter is to inhabit a stillness as complete
And consistent as the cool water that ponds there
Beyond the ferns that arch from the steep

Rock face of the entrance to the cave.
Looking intensely at the face of the waters
No prophecy came but that I would engrave

This image on the stone of memory
And it would remain with me always
Welling in the mind’s pool, constantly

Bringing a blessing of Bride’s healing springs
And the tranquility such remembrance brings.

The Girl in Ogyrvan’s Hall

The Girl in Ogyrvan’s Hall

(Amended version of an earlier translation, with extended commentary).

I love a fair fort on the side of a hill

where seagulls glide : there stands a shy girl.

I yearn to be with her but she would not have me

Though I came on a white horse for her sweet mirth

To tell of the love that has overcome me

To lighten my darkness out of the gloom,

To see her whiteness like the foam on the wave

Flowing towards us out of her realm,

Gleaming like snow on the highest hill.

To cool my vexation in Ogrvan’s Hall

Unwilling to leave her (it would be my death)

My life-force is with her, my vitality ebbs

Like Garwy Hir* my desire undoes me

For a girl I can’t reach in Ogrvan’s Hall.

After the Welsh of Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd (died 1170).

Ogrvan’s Hall was identified by Sir John Rhŷs as a place in the Otherworld, occupied by the god that ruled over it. But there is also legend of a giant called Gogvran who was said to be the father of Gwenhywyfar who may, in turn, have been confused with [G]Ogyvran who occupied a fortress in Powys in the sixth century.

*Garwy Hir was a legendary lover in Welsh tradition. His love affair with Creirwy is alluded to by other early poets though the details of their story is lost beyond the idea that she was ‘the fairest maiden in the world’ and, in one version of the Taliesin story, the daughter of Ceridwen. Garwy was enchanted by her and made helpless by the thought of her, as Hywel in the poem seems also to be by the unattainable girl in the otherworld fortress.

An ogyrven is also one of the divisions of the Awen (poetic inspiration) according to a poem in The Book of Taliesin. There may be no etymological connection between these names, but that Hywel (and others) should be inspired by a woman in Ogyrvan’s Hall is surely a correspondence no poet could ignore!

Mari Lwyd


To celebrate Old New Year (13 January) the Mari Lwyd came to the Prom in Aberystwyth.

Sang the songs in the traditional dialect versions:

Wel dyma ni’n dwad

Gyfeillion diniwad

I ofyn cawn gennad i ganu …

(Here we come, innocent friends, to ask if we can sing …)

Then watched the starlings settling under the pier at sunset,

Before a disorderly parade through the town

Culminating at the Clock Tower for more music and song

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Elder Mother


{a continuation of Rhiannon’s Apples}


Elder Tree

Dark elderberries hang on twisted boughs
Unpicked and shrivelled,
Bare twigs twist to point the way
That turns upon itself a shadow veil
Shielding the world she is leaving behind
As she rides the grey mare
Fading to grey mist for a season
Seeking her fair form far away
Where he expects her, her shadow lord
Conjuring the woven ways
Through mists of his own making
Shaping a path through shapeless drifts
Each one receding through layers of world
Intricately dispersing
Wider to bring her to world’s end:
To not-world’s becoming.


Another watches her go as strewn leaves lie
On sodden forest floors
Bereft of shelter, mysteries
Of dappled green depth emptying.

Samahin Cover
Samhain Scene : from a cover for The Waxing Moon by Pat Blackmore






Rhiannon’s Apples


Apples shed into the shade of the tree
Such is the season’s trade
Between sunshine and shadow
Cast across light’s pellucid glow

As the Grey Mare passes, September’s spent
Fruit grounded in October’s
Splendour, her reins passed over
To crooked fingers of Elder Mother.