Bard's Eye View Of Wales, A [The Essay]

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Devils20180920

The history of the Welsh people, from the year six hundred to the present, can be traced through poetry - there has not been one generation in that time in which poets haven't kept a record. In this series of Essays, poet and musician Twm Morys brings his personal perspective to five stories looking at aspects of the history of Wales over several centuries, following the fortunes of Welsh figures both eminent and ordinary.

In his fourth essay this week, Twm looks into the experiences of an African man in North Wales in the 1770s, and the stories the community told about how he came to be there. The only black man anyone had ever come across in Cricieth at that time, it seems Jack Ystumllyn may have been an escaped slave, who overcame prejudice to become an extremely popular and respectable man.

Producer: Megan Jones for BBC Wales

Twm Morys tells the story of Jack Ystumllyn, an African man in North Wales in the 1770s

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

Dinogad's Jerkin - The Oldest Lullaby In Britain20180917

The history of the Welsh people, from the year six hundred to the present, can be traced through poetry - there has not been one generation in that time in which poets haven't kept a record. In this series of Essays, poet and musician Twm Morys brings his personal perspective to five stories looking at aspects of the history of Wales over several centuries, following the fortunes of Welsh figures both eminent and ordinary.

In the first essay, Dinogad's Jerkin, he tells the story of the oldest lullaby in Britain, sung by a mother to her son in Borrowdale in the Lake District at the end of the 7th century. It was preserved in a medieval manuscript which reveals that it was in the Welsh language, throwing a strange light on the history of England.

In the second essay Twm follows the very different fates of two famous Welshmen during the First World War - David Ivor Davies and Ellis Humphrey Evans. From opposite ends of Wales geographically and economically, the former became known as Ivor Novello and thanks to his contacts not only survived the war but was made famous by it. The latter was a poet known as Hedd Wyn, who became the figurehead for Wales' experience of the war: he was killed within hours of going into action on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

‘Jack Ystumllyn’, or 'A victory over racism in 18th century Criccieth', looks into the experiences of an African man in North Wales, and the stories the community told about how he came to be there. The only black man anyone had ever come across, it seems he may have been an escaped slave, and Jack overcame prejudice to become an extremely popular and respectable man.

Twm was brought up in the same village as Lloyd George, and in the essay 'Why the Lloyd George museum is so small' (Twm worked in the museum for a while), he explains that the former prime minister is not fondly remembered there. Some think that Lloyd George betrayed his country's cause in order to further himself in England and the Empire, others that his behaviour during the First World War was warmongering (he personally gave many speeches recruiting young welsh men to the army). Twm recalls that a filthy limerick was found in Lloyd George's wallet at the time of his death, and that as a museum assistant, it wasn't the done thing to draw attention to the verse.

In the final essay 'Saint Teilo - a surplus of arms' Twm delves into the cultural links between Brittany and Wales, drawing on his experience of living there for ten years. Of this he says that speaking Breton was like speaking Welsh after taking some psychedelic drug, and living there was like a Wales where Methodist chapels never happened. St Teilo fled to Brittany with a band of monks in the 6th century to escape the plague, and during this time tamed a fierce dragon and chained it to a rock in the sea. Twm explains how a church in Brittany manages to claim that they hold a hallowed relick of the Welsh Saint - his arm and hand, encased in silver - even though he returned to Wales to die.

Producer: Megan Jones for BBC Wales

Poet and musician Twm Morys tells the story of the oldest lullaby in Britain.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

Ma-hw20180918

The history of the Welsh people, from the year six hundred to the present, can be traced through poetry - there has not been one generation in that time in which poets haven't kept a record. In this series of Essays, poet and musician Twm Morys brings his personal perspective to five stories looking at aspects of the history of Wales over several centuries, following the fortunes of Welsh figures both eminent and ordinary.

In the second essay Twm explores a tradition that was preserved for more than a thousand years in Wales - that of farmhands singing songs to their oxen

Producer: Megan Jones for BBC Wales

Twm Morys looks at the poetry of ploughing songs

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

Saint Teilo - A Surplus Of Arms20180919

Twm Morys delves into the cultural links between Brittany and Wales, and looks into the story of St Teilo.

Drawing on his experience of living in Brittany for ten years, Twm says that speaking Breton was like speaking Welsh after taking some psychedelic drug, and living there was like a Wales where Methodist chapels never happened. St Teilo fled to Brittany with a band of monks in the 6th century to escape the plague, and during this time tamed a fierce dragon and chained it to a rock in the sea. Twm explains how a church in Brittany still manages to claim that they hold a hallowed relic of the Welsh Saint - his arm and hand, encased in silver - even though he returned to Wales to die.

Producer: Megan Jones for BBC Wales

Poet Twm Morys delves into the cultural links between Brittany and Wales

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

Why The Lloyd George Museum Is So Small20180921

Twm Morys was brought up in the same village as Lloyd George, and in the essay 'Why the Lloyd George museum is so small' (Twm worked in the museum for a while), he explains that the former prime minister is not fondly remembered there. Some think that Lloyd George betrayed his country's cause in order to further himself in England and the Empire, others that his behaviour during the First World War was warmongering (he personally gave many speeches recruiting young welsh men to the army). Twm also recalls that a filthy limerick was found in Lloyd George's wallet at the time of his death, and that as a museum assistant, it wasn't the done thing to draw attention to the verse.

Producer: Megan Jones for BBC Wales

Twm Morys looks into the reputation of Lloyd George in the village of his birth

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.