BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 15:10 GMT
Hedd Wyn 'poppy' letter on show
Hedd Wyn
Hedd Wyn won the eisteddfod chair in 1917 six weeks after his death
A wartime letter by poet Hedd Wyn in which the symbolism of the Remembrance Day poppy is evoked and predicted is on display at Bangor University.

It is part of an exhibition on the shepherd and writer from Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd who died in World War I.

In it he describes life "behind the lines" of the Western Front.

A draft of his Yr Arwr (The Hero) composition which won the 1917 National Eisteddfod chair just six weeks after his death is also in the display.

Handwritten "from somewhere in France", the letter does not reveal the horrors of the trenches but focuses on what the university describes as "small moments of beauty" around him such as trees and flowers.

Hedd Wyn, whose real name was Ellis Humphrey Evans, writes in Welsh that the most beautiful thing he had seen was some flowers growing out of an empty shell.

Hedd Wyn's letter
Hedd Wyn's letter focuses on the beautiful things he saw on the front

He also writes that France's flowers "will be doleful in the future and a sad wind will blow over her acres because the colour of blood will be in one and the sound of sorrow will be in another".

"(It) almost predicts the symbolism of the Remembrance Day poppy," said a university spokesperson.

Professor Gerwyn Williams, head of the university's school of Welsh, said the letter offered a "direct and unique connection with the poet".

"It's an excellent example of the treasures to be found at Bangor University's archive, a rare manuscript which brings to life the experience of studying the work of an important man of letters," he said.

Hedd Wyn was one of more than 8,500 soldiers, sailors and airmen from north Wales who died in World War I.

He was awarded the eisteddfod chair in Birkenhead and is still the only person to have won one of the festival's major awards after their death.

A film about his life was nominated for a foreign language Oscar in 1994.

The exhibition at the Shankland Reading Room in the university's main arts library can be viewed seven days a week.

Great War memorial arch appeal
05 Nov 07 |  North West Wales


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific