Epic Poetry

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), June 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

Epic Poetry


Byline: By JILL TUNSTALL

AS National Poet of Wales, Professor Gwyn Thomas had no hesitation when asked to celebrate Snowdon's summit, in verse. "It was the very highest compliment," he chuckles. At 3,560ft, his poetry will also be the highest in Wales as it has been etched into the fabric of the new summit building.

The cafe's name Hafod Eryri - meaning summer shelter of Snowdonia - was chosen by secret ballot from about 400 suggestions and has been registered as a trademark and used as a logo.

Contractor Carillion said in April it was racing to finish the pounds 8.3m building, which will be clad in stone, by early summer in order to qualify for European funding.

The poetry will also have one of the largest audiences, viewed by the thousands of walkers who make the trek to the summit each year - and those who take the train.

The poetry features in Yr Wyddfa a'i Chriw, (Snowdon and its crew) this week. The documentary charts the construction of the highest building in Wales (and higher than any in England, for that matter) where the poems have been inscribed on windows and in stone.

But despite all the record-breaking there was no room for superlatives in Prof Thomas' work. The poems, commissioned by Snowdonia National Park, had to be no more than three or four lines long.

Luckily, he had climbed the mountain himself many times before a specially arranged trip by train to see progress on the building last year.

"We could hardly see a thing, the fog was so thick," he says. "But I have been up the mountain several times.

"The first was when I was a teenager growing up in Blaenau Ffestiniog. It was a fine day and a friend and I came down a much quicker way than we should have, across very dangerous rocks.

"It was a foolish thing to do and I'm quite lucky to be here."

Fortunately for the poetry-loving people of Wales he survived and has gone on to become a renowned scholar and poet. His commission for Hafod Eryri was one of his last as National Poet of Wales, a post he retired from last month after two years.

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