Rowan Williams LectureDarlith Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams LectureDarlith Rowan Williams

On Friday, March 23, 2012 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, delivered a lecture entitled ‘Poetry and Peacemaking’, based on the poems of Waldo Williams, at Pisga Chapel, Llandysilio, Pembrokeshire. The event was organised by Cymdeithas Waldo and Waldo’s stature as a poet was enhanced to that of a poet who knew the true meaning of ‘awen’ or ‘life-force’.

Ar nos Wener, Mawrth 23, 2012 traddodwyd darlith gan Archesgob Caergaint, Rowan Williams, ar y testun ‘Poetry and Peacemaking’ yng nghyd-destun barddoniaeth Waldo yng Nghapel Pisga, Llandysilio yn Sir Benfro. Trefnwyd yr achlysur gan Gymdeithas Waldo a dyrchafwyd Waldo Williams i statws bardd a wyddai wir ystyr y gair ‘awen’.

Endeavouring to persuade the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, in Harare, to respect human rights in his own country; endeavouring to enlighten Pope Benedict of the virtues of ecumenism by delivering a lecture in Rome entitled ‘Monastic Values and Ecumenical Hope’; endeavouring to convince the arch-atheist, Richard Dawkins, in a public debate at Oxford, that man must take heed of what is written in the Book of Genesis if he is to understand his role in the universe and informing whoever was prepared to listen that even terrorists such as the Taliban probably have their moral goals – those were some of the tasks the Archbishop of Canterbury set himself during the weeks prior to his visit to Llandysilio in Pembrokeshire.

His task at Pisga Chapel on Friday, 23 March 2012, was to emphasize the greatness of the local boy, Waldo Williams as a poet-pacifist on par with the American poet, Thomas Merton and the English poet, Geoffrey Hill. This he did with aplomb. He had a willing audience. Cerwyn Davies, in his formal greetings as the chairman of Cymdeithas Waldo, noted they both had two attributes in common namely their age and the fact they were both shepherds, albeit one who looked after the spiritual needs of 77 million Anglicans worldwide and the other who nurtured the needs of a few hundred sheep on the Preselau slopes. Archbishop Rowan Williams ascended to the Nonconformist pulpit adorned for 46 years by one of the leading lights of the Congregationalists, Rev Joseph James, who refined his speech impediment to the same accomplished degree as his Dowlais compatriot, the gifted historian, Gwyn Alf Williams. The foremost Anglican of his day appeared at ease as he set about to his task.

Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams

The audience soon realised they were listening to an exceptional soul deliberating upon another equally exceptional soul. The 61-year-old Welshman led us to the heights of the spiritual life by the means of those crucial words that appear time and time again in Waldo’s poems. Rowan Williams chose the poem ‘Mewn Dau Gae’ (In Two Fields) to illustrate his contention. He suggested that an understanding of the essence of the Welsh language was necessary to understand the true meaning of such a word as ‘awen’. The lecturer, a formidable poet in his own right, insisted that ‘awen’ does not translate meaningfully as ‘muse’.

The Archbishop explained that ‘awen’ is to do with the primitive primordial energy coupled with the imaginative spirit. He ventured further by stating that ‘awen’ owns the world whereas ‘elw’ (profit) is nothing but fantasy. This he insisted Waldo knew well and that, he emphasised, is why it is so important to understand the meaning of ‘awen’ as the quality that connects and completes all things under the surface. ‘Awen’ works by means of recognition and when this recognition is embodied in poetry the words possess the force of peacemaking. We were told that true poetry was in its essence an act of peacemaking as it is in itself an attempt at reconciliation at a level above all political agenda. He insisted this was part of Waldo’s perceived wisdom.

Audience at Pisgah Chapel

The respected theologian referred to how being a Quaker had influenced Waldo’s inner life by forcing him to concentrate on the light that offers an instinctive path towards the truth through the emphasis placed on listening to silence and listening to wonder. He convinced us that Waldo was an old hand at waiting for the silence. He referred to Euros Bowen and Steffan Griffith’s understanding of how Waldo reached the depths of silence and how he fervently opposed the sound of words in the Friends’ meetings as it hindered the process of planting the roots of silence. Rowan Williams emphasised how poetry resists cliché and banal rhymes as the true poet wishes to demonstrate the integrity of words through simplicity of expression. Poetry is an art keen to reconcile and that is why Waldo opposed the greed that creates profit and the tearing of the earth by military vehicles, as he believed the seeds of God should be sown in the earth. He said that Waldo by articulating his experience in Flour Field and Flour Field Marsh, as he does in the poem ‘In Two Fields’, testifies to the transforming force of ‘awen’.

He referred to Waldo’s own description of being present at the baptism of a young man who was on his way to war and how he wished the young man’s allegiance to the state could be transformed to an allegiance to ‘awen’ which possesses hidden depths capable of changing the world. The audience was spellbound as the Bishop of St David’s, J. Wyn Evans gave a vote of thanks from the pulpit. Neither would he – nor the Archbishop – have been allowed anywhere near the Set Fawr let alone the pulpit fifty years ago when one of his predecessors, Bishop J. R. Richards issued an edict forbidding vicars and ministers from taking part, in any form, in each other’s services. However, fraternity is now to the fore as all and sundry realised that the voice of a poet-peacemaker would be able to regain conciliation in many parts of today’s world if only the politicians and generals would listen to the silence.

Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams at Carreg Waldo, Rhos-fach

Archbishop Rowan was then led to the Vestry where he met a large majority of the audience who had filled the chapel to the brim; in their midst many who had travelled specifically for the occasion from all parts of Wales including Llandudno, Caernarfon, Cardiff, Llanelli, Swansea and Aberystwyth to witness the testimony of an enlightened man who recently announced his intention to return to academia at Magdalene College, Cambridge following ten years in his present role. Vernon Beynon presented the Archbishop with two cuttings of wood from Flour Field and Flour Field Moor as a symbol of where Waldo felt a mystical religious experience as a teenager, which then, forty years later, evolved into the poem ‘In Two Fields’. Before leaving Llandysilio Rowan Williams shook hands with Waldo’s nephews and described such an act as a privilege. He left leaving his humility and an appreciation anew of Waldo Williams’s greatness.

 

 

Ceisio darbwyllo Arlywydd Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, yn Harare, i barchu hawliau dynol yn ei wlad ei hun; ceisio darbwyllo’r Pab Benedict o werth eciwmeniaeth trwy draddodi darlith yn dwyn y teitl ‘Gwerthoedd Mynachaidd a Gobaith Eciwmenaidd’ yn Rhufain; ceisio darbwyllo’r arch-anffyddiwr Richard Dawkins mewn dadl gyhoeddus yn Rhydychen fod pori yn Llyfr Genesis yn hanfodol i ddyn ddeall ei le yn y bydysawd a cheisio darbwyllo pwy bynnag a glyw fod gan hyd yn oed terfysgwyr megis y Taliban eu hamcanion moesol – dyna rai o’r tasgau a osododd Archesgob Caergaint iddo’i hun yn ystod yr wythnosau cyn iddo ymweld â Llandysilio-yn-Nyfed. Ei dasg yng Nghapel Pisga ar nos Wener, 23 Mawrth, oedd darbwyllo’r gwrandawyr o fawredd y crwt lleol, Waldo Williams fel bardd-heddychwr ar yr un gwastad â’r bardd Americanaidd, Thomas Merton, a’r Sais, Geoffrey Hill. Cafodd gynulleidfa foddog. Esgynnodd yr Archesgob Rowan Williams i bulpud Anghydffurfiol a harddwyd am 46 mlynedd gan un o hoelion wyth enwad yr Annibynwyr, y Parch Joseph James, a berffeithiodd y grefft o atal dweud ar ei leferydd i’r un graddau â’i gyfoeswr o Ddowlais, ger Merthyr, yr hanesydd Gwyn Alf Williams. Ymddangosai prif Anglican y dydd yn gwbl gyffyrddus wrth fwrw at ei dasg.

Yr Archesgob yng nghwmni cyd-ysgrifenyddion Cymdeithas Waldo, Anna Williams ac Alun Ifans.

Fe’i gwnaed yn gartrefol gan eiriau’r cyflwynydd, Cerwyn Davies, Cadeirydd Cymdeithas Waldo, a nododd fod gan y ddau ohonynt ddau beth yn gyffredin sef eu hoed a’r ffaith eu bod ill dau yn fugeiliaid – un yn ben bugail ar 77 miliwn o Anglicaniaid ar draws y byd a’r llall yn ben bugail ar ychydig gannoedd o ddefaid ar lethrau’r Preselau. Doedd hi fawr o dro cyn i’r gynulleidfa sylweddoli bod yna enaid mawr yn trafod enaid cydnaws wrth i’r Cymro 61 oed ein tywys i ddyfnderoedd y bywyd ysbrydol trwy gyfrwng y geiriau allweddol hynny sydd i’w gweld drosodd a throsodd yng ngherddi Waldo. Dewisodd Rowan Williams y gerdd ‘Mewn Dau Gae’ i ddarlunio hynny gan awgrymu’n gryf bod angen dealltwriaeth o deithi meddwl yr iaith Gymraeg i ddeall ystyr gair megis ‘awen’; nid yw’n cyfieithu yn ‘muse’ meddai’r darlithydd sydd yn fardd yn ei hawl ei hun.

Mae ‘awen’, meddai, yn ymwneud ag ynni cyntefig cychwynnol a’r ysbryd dychmygus. Mentrodd ymhellach trwy ddweud mai ‘awen’ biau’r byd ac mai ffantasi yw ‘elw’ a bod Waldo’n deall hynny. Dyna pam ei bod yn bwysig ‘adnabod awen’ am mai dyna sy’n cysylltu pob dim, yn cyfannu pob dim sydd o dan yr wyneb, a phan fod barddoniaeth yn cydnabod hynny mae’r geiriau’n gyfystyr ag ymgyrchu dros gynnal heddwch. Dywedodd na all cyfansoddi gwir farddoniaeth beidio â bod yn weithred o heddychiaeth am ei fod ynddo’i hun yn uchelgais i sicrhau cymod uwchlaw pob agenda gwleidyddol. Mynnai fod Waldo’n deall hynny. Dewisodd y diwinydd gloyw gyfeirio at y modd roedd Crynwriaeth wedi dylanwadu ar fywyd mewnol Waldo trwy ei orfodi i ganolbwyntio ar y goleuni sy’n cynnig llwybr greddfol tuag at y gwirionedd a’r pwyslais ar ddistawrwydd gwrando a distawrwydd rhyfeddu. Fe’n argyhoeddodd fod Waldo yn hen law ar ddisgwyl am y distawrwydd. Cyfeiriodd at adnabyddiaeth Euros Bowen a Steffan Griffith o’r modd yr ymglywai Waldo â’r dyfnderoedd a’r modd na fynnai glywed neb yn llefaru yng nghyfarfodydd y Cyfeillion am y byddai hynny’n amharu ar y broses o osod gwreiddiau distawrwydd.

Yr Archesgob yn ymweld â Charreg Waldo

Pwysleisiodd Rowan Williams fod barddoniaeth yn gwrthwynebu ystrydebau ac odli geiriau’n ddi-ben-draw am fod y gwir fardd yn awyddus i gyfleu cyfanrwydd geiriau trwy symlrwydd mynegiant. Celfyddyd yw barddoniaeth, meddai, sy’n awyddus i greu cymod, a dyna pam y gwrthwynebai Waldo drachwant sy’n creu elw a rhwygo’r ddaear gan beiriannau rhyfel am ei fod o’r farn mai hau hadau Duw a ddylid ei wneud yn y pridd. Roedd Waldo, meddai, trwy fynegi’r profiad a gafodd ym Mharc y Blawd a Weun Parc y Blawd, fel y gwna yn ‘Mewn Dau Gae’, yn tystio i’r grym trawsnewidiol sydd yn yr awen.

Cyfeiriodd at ddisgrifiad Waldo ohono’n dyst i fedydd bachgen ifanc oedd ar y ffordd i ryfel ac fel roedd yn dyheu y byddai’n bosib i’r gŵr ifanc drawsnewid ei deyrngarwch i’r wladwriaeth i deyrngarwch i’r awen sy’n meddu ar ddyfnderoedd cudd a fedr weddnewid y byd. Gadawyd y gynulleidfa mewn llesmair wrth i Esgob Tyddewi, J. Wyn Evans esgyn i’r pulpud i gynnig gair o ddiolch. Fyddai yntau chwaith ddim wedi cael gwneud hynny drigain mlynedd nôl pan benderfynodd un o’i ragflaenwyr, yr Esgob J. R. Richards, na châi ffeiradon a phregethwyr gyfnewid pulpudau o dan unrhyw amodau o fewn ei esgobaeth. Ond brawdgarwch piau erbyn hyn wrth i bawb sylweddoli y gallai llais bardd-heddychwr sicrhau cymod mewn aml i ran o’r byd pe bai’r gwleidyddion a’r cadfridogion yn fodlon gwrando ar y distawrwydd.

Y gynulleidfa yng Nghapel Pisgah yn gwrando

Ymneilltuodd yr Archesgob Rowan i’r Festri wedyn i gyfarfod â’r rhan fwyaf o’r dorf a lenwai’r capel hyd at yr ymylon, yn eu plith nifer wedi teithio’n unswydd o bob rhan o Gymru benbaladr yn cynnwys Llandudno, Caerdydd, Caernarfon, Llanelli, Abertawe ac Aberystwyth i wrando ar y gŵr goleuedig sydd wedi cyhoeddi ei fwriad i ddychwelyd i fyd academia yng Ngholeg Magdalen, Caergrawnt, wedi treulio deng mlynedd yn ei swydd bresennol. Cyflwynodd Vernon Beynon ddwy golfen o Barc y Blawd a Weun Parc y Blawd i’r Archesgob i gofio mai profiad llencyndod yn y perci hynny a gyffrôdd Waldo i gyfansoddi ‘Mewn Dau Gae’ dros 40 mlynedd yn ddiweddarach. Diflannodd Rowan Williams o Landysilio-yn-Nyfed wedi iddo ysgwyd llaw â neiaint Waldo gan ddweud cymaint o fraint oedd hi iddo i wneud hynny; gadawodd gan adael ei ostyngeiddrwydd ar ôl ac adnabyddiaeth o’r newydd o fawredd Waldo Williams.

 

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