From a Revived Itinerary: Giraldus of Wales


David Annwn and John Goodby





As we approached the River Neath

& against the judicous advice of our guide

Morgan ap Caradog ap Iestyn

et timor addidit alas / since terror

gave us wings (Virgil)                  we rushed

dithery panicky across quicksands

when we should have proceeded care

fully & the one pack-horse belonging

to the writer                 of these lines

was almost sucked down into the abyss /

quasi in abyssum descendit

& was only extricated with great trouble

by the efforts of our servants

who risked their lives in doing so

& not without some damage

inflicted on his books & baggage



                                    +        +        +



In this bedraggled fashion

we entered the province

called Gower

& spent the night in the castle at Swansea,

called in Welsh Abertawe



                                    +        +        +


2 monks were waiting on the Archbishop & one made a joke:

—‘It’s a hard country, this.’

—‘Not at all. Yesterday we found it far too soft.’

Somewhat before our time

an odd thing     an odd thing


hap ened in these parts

i   th  s  art


The priest Elidyr

A  L  W  A  Y  S


maintained that it

was he

who was


person concerned



Elidyr the priest was just twelve years old,


learning                       to



he ran away from his strict master, hiding by the river bank for two days without food or shelter. Then two small men appeared and said that if he followed them


at first subterraneous and dark

                                                               absence of moon and stars

horses and greyhounds adapted to their size

lived on milk diet

made up into messes with saffron

returned from our upper hemisphere

no form of public worship

strict lovers and reverers

boy frequently returned

stole a golden ball

his foot stumbled on the threshold

returned by usual track

the subterraneous road

found no appearance

years passed he became an old man

David II, Bishop of St David’s questioned him

he could never


the particulars without

shedding tears

he had made himself acquainted

still remembered language

of little folk


when wanted water they said: ‘ydor ydorum’, in Latin

‘aquam offer’

‘ydor’ was word for water, like Greek υδωρ. In Welsh

the word for water is ‘dwfr’

when wanted salt, they said ‘halgein ydorum’

which means ‘salem affer’. Salt is ‘αλς’ in Greek

and ‘halen’ in Welsh. The Britons stayed a long time

in Greece after the fall of Troy

the early Welsh language is similar

to Greek

it is rem

arkable so many lang

uages corr

espond in one w


‘ydor ydorum’









reader, you should ask me

if I think this story

really true

‘miracles sent by heaven

are there to be wondered

at, not argued’

if I reject

I place a limit

on God’s power

never do

if I say believe it


to move

beyond the












David Annwn’s most recent book of poetry is Resonance Field (2021) and his work features in The Edge of Necessary, Welsh Innovative Poetry and Blackbox Manifold 25 (2021).  His poetry collaborations with master-calligrapher Thomas Ingmire were the subject of an exhibition at California Book Club, San Francisco in 2016 and in 2023, Thomas has produced a one-of-a-kind book of Annwn’s poetry, from Annwn’s Bela Fawr’s CabaretHe has read at Caffe Trieste with Jack Hirschman and Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and has delivered filmed readings at the Hepworth Gallery, Yorkshire UK and in settings throughout Europe.  His poetry is featured in fifteen films by San Francisco film-maker Howard Munson, including DADA 2023.  He is a recipient of a Cardiff International Poetry Award.  He is also an authority on Gothic cinema, visual culture and magic lanterns and his most recent title, Vampires of the Silent Screen: Cinema’s First Age of Vampires 1897-1922, will be published later this year. 


John Goodby is the international authority on the work of Dylan Thomas and the author of Irish poetry since 1950: From stillness into history (MUP, 2000), The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall (LUP, 2013), and Discovering Dylan Thomas (UWP, 2017); he also edited the New Casebook title on Dylan Thomas (with Chris Wiggington) (Palgrave, 2001), the centenary edition of the Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (2014) and the Fifth Notebook of Dylan Thomas (with Adrian Osbourne) (2020).  His poetry collections include Illenium (Shearsman, 2010), The No Breath (Red Ceilings, 2017), The Ars (Red Ceilings 2020) and So Rise (Red Ceilings 2023).  He has published translations of Pasolini, Heine, Reverdy, Emmy Hennings (with David Annwn) and the Algerian poet, Soleiman Adel Guemar (with Tom Cheesman).  He is also a collage artist and his work, ‘Imperfect Harm’ will appear in ‘Maintenant 17: A Journal of Contemporary Writing and Art’. 



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