Monday, 5 April 2021

CENNIN PEDR

Easter weekend.  Blackthorn showing white on the hedgebanks but not yet in full blossom.  Gorse a vivid chrome yellow.  I can see right down the Peninsula to Y Rhiw, Anelog, Mynydd Mawr.  Beyond there is the grey outline of what looks like another hill but is Mynydd Enlli on Bardsey Island.

I'm walking along a rough track across marginal land.  Bright sunshine but a chill breeze whips off the Irish Sea.  The air smells of gorse and moorland grass.  There is a little scattering of long-empty cottages perched on the spring line.  They are roofless ruins, half-hidden beneath ivy, brambles and hawthorn bushes.  Their stones are falling back into the land from which they came.  

But I've come at the right time to see the daffodils.  Here they have multiplied and gone feral - flourishing their yellow hallelujahs incongruously against a backdrop of the rocky slopes of the Garn.  The cottages must have been abandoned before the second world war but the flowers are a kind of cheerful haunting.

Daffodils in Welsh are Cennin Pedr, St Peter's leeks.    I wonder about the name.  Leeks apparently because of the resemblance of the leaves to leeks, the traditional plant of Wales (Shakespeare mentions the Welsh soldiers 'wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps' at the battle of Crecy).  But why Peter?  The saint's day is 29 June, well after the daffodil season.  Perhaps it was because the daffodil flowers during Easter time and people would have heard Peter's name in the gospel readings.  In Victorian times it was Peter's leek rather than the more pungent vegetable that became the flower of St David's day.

I drop down from the open moorland and follow the steep narrow path lined with high banks and the shadows of leafless trees.  There are celandines, violets, wood anemones, honeysuckle leaves opening on twining stems, the companionable sound of a stream tumbling down the hillside.  And all along the valley clumps of primroses.

anyone who comes 
to yellow wants
more

from Thomas A Clark Farm by the Shore (Carcanet 2017)

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