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Myfanwy (Welsh: [məˈvɑːnʊɨ]; a woman's name derived from Welsh annwyl, meaning 'beloved') is a popular Welsh song, composed by Joseph Parry and first published in 1875. Sources differ as to whether Dr. Parry composed the music for an existing poem by Richard Davies ("Mynyddog Mwynfawr"; 1833–1877) (the common belief) or whether Davies wrote the words to Parry's melody following its use with an English lyric by Thomas Walter Price (Cuhelyn; 1829 - 1869)(*1), journalist and poet, called "Arabella". Richard Davies' lyric may have been influenced by the 14th Century love story of Myfanwy Fychan of Castell Dinas Brân, Llangollen, and the poet Hywel ab Einion(*2). That story was also the subject of the popular poem, "Myfanwy Fychan" (1858), by John Ceiriog Hughes (1832–87). Some sources say it was written with Parry's childhood sweetheart, Myfanwy Llywellyn, in mind (*3). In 1947, Merthyr-Tydfil-born author, Jack Jones, wrote a book entitled “Off to Philadelphia in the morning” where he relates the story within some aspects of the life of Dr Joseph Parry, weaving facts into his fictional narrative (*4).

Original Translation
Paham mae dicter, O Myfanwy,

Yn llenwi'th lygaid duon di?
A'th ruddiau tirion, O Myfanwy,
Heb wrido wrth fy ngweled i?
Pa le mae'r wên oedd ar dy wefus
Fu'n cynnau 'nghariad ffyddlon ffôl?
Pa le mae sain dy eiriau melys,
Fu'n denu'n nghalon ar dy ôl?

Why so the anger, Oh Myfanwy,

That fills your dark eyes
Your gentle cheeks, Oh Myfanwy,
No longer blush beholding me?
Where now the smile upon your lips
That lit my foolish faithful love?
Where now the sound of your sweet words,
That drew my heart to follow you?)

Pa beth a wneuthum, O Myfanwy

I haeddu gwg dy ddwyrudd hardd?
Ai chwarae oeddit, O Myfanwy
 thanau euraidd serch dy fardd?
Wyt eiddo im drwy gywir amod
Ai gormod cadw'th air i mi?
Ni cheisiaf fyth mo'th law, Myfanwy,
Heb gael dy galon gyda hi.

What was it that I did, Oh Myfanwy,

To deserve the frown of your beautiful cheeks?
Was it a game for you, Oh Myfanwy,
This poet's golden flame of love?
You belong to me, through true promise,
Too much to keep your word to me?
I'll never seek your hand, Myfanwy,
Unless I have your heart with it.

Myfanwy boed yr holl o'th fywyd

Dan heulwen ddisglair canol dydd.
A boed i rosyn gwridog iechyd
I ddawnsio ganmlwydd ar dy rudd.
Anghofia'r oll o'th addewidion
A wnest i rywun, 'ngeneth ddel,
A dyro'th law, Myfanwy dirion
I ddim ond dweud y gair "Ffarwél".

Myfanwy, may your life entirely be

Beneath the midday sun's bright glow,
And may a blushing rose of health
Dance on your cheek a hundred years.
I forget all your words of promise
You made to someone, my pretty girl
So give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy,
For no more but to say "farewell".

The song is still a favourite with Welsh men's choruses. One of the most widely recognized renditions is by the Treorchy Male Voice Choir. Another compelling version was recorded by the Neath Male Voice Choir. A version has been performed by John Cale, Cerys Matthews on her album of Welsh greats, Tir, and by Bryn Terfel on his album "We'll Keep a Welcome". It is also on O Fortuna, the second album from Rhydian, where he duets with fellow Welsh baritone Terfel. It is also a bonus track, sung unaccompanied, on the self-titled album by John Owen Jones. The song also is sung in the Welsh language biographical film Hedd Wyn.

Why shoots wrath's lightning, Arabella,

From those jet eyes? What clouds thy brow?
Those cheeks that once with love blush'd on me,
Why are they pale and bloodless now?
Why bite those lips that bore my kisses?
Where lurks the smile that won my heart?
Why now be mute, oh Arabella;
Speak love, once more before we part.

What have I done, oh, cruel fair one
To merit e'en a frown from thee?
Am I too fond, or art thou fickle,
Or play'st thou but to humble me?
Thou art my own by word and honour,
And wilt thou not thy word fulfil?
Thou need'st not frown, oh, Arabella,
I would not have thee 'gainst thy will.

Full be thy heart with joy for ever,
May time ne'er cypher on thy brow;
Through life may beauty's rose and lily
Dance on thy healthy cheeks, as now;
Forget thy broken vows and never
Let thy wakeful conscience tell
That thou did'st e'er mislead or wrong me;

Oh, Arabella fare thee well.

English words by the late Cubelyn to the tune 'Myfanwy' by Joseph Parry Welsh into English was translated by Mr John H. Price (Dowlais) Myfanwy Myfanwy why does wrath’s dark shadow So fill those jet black eyes of thine Why do your tender cheeks Myfanwy No longer with loves blushes shine Where is the smile that once ignited? The fire of love within my breast Where lurks that tone thy voice delighted? My heart to flee to thee for rest How did I wrong thee Oh Myfanwy? To earn that frown of bitter scorn Were thou but playing Oh Myfanwy? Whilst golden chords of love were born Thou art mine own by word of honour Will thou not keep that pledge of thine? I do not seek thy hand Myfanwy Unless thine heart is also mine May all your lifetime Oh Myfanwy Neath brightest sunshine ever stay And may good health like blushing roses Bring beauty to thy cheek each day Forget those idly broken pledges That o’er my heart did cast their spell Stretch forth thy hand my dear Myfanwy That I might say one word .......Farewell

In popular culture[edit]

The song features in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley and also in the last scene of the Swansea-based movie Twin Town, where it is sung by members of many local choirs, including the Pontarddulais Male Choir. At a key moment of the plot, the protagonist in the 1992 Welsh-language film Hedd Wyn, which was nominated for an Academy Award, sings it to his former fiancee.

It is both played and discussed in the episode "Death and Dust" of the show Midsomer Murders, during a visit to Wales by detectives from an English village.


External links[edit]

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  • ^ "Joseph Parry". BBC Wales. 18 November 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
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  • ^ Talk:Myfanwy