Hedd Wyn

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Hedd Wyn (born Ellis Humphrey Evans) (13 January 1887  – 31 July 1917) was a Welsh language poet of World War I. He was posthumously awarded the Chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod, having been killed at the Battle of Passchendaele.


Early life

Ellis Humphrey Evans was born on 13 January 1887 in Pen Lan, a house in the middle of Trawsfynydd, Meirionydd, North Wales. He was the eldest of 11 children born to Evan and Mary Evans. In the spring of 1887 the family moved to the isolated hill-farm of Yr Ysgwrn, a few miles from Trawsfynydd.[1]

Ellis Evans received a basic education at elementary and Sunday school. He left school at fourteen and began work as a shepherd on his father’s farm.[2] He had not been a particularly brilliant student but he had a natural gift for poetry. He had already composed his first poems by the age of eleven.

He took part in eisteddfodau from the age of 19 and won his first bard’s chair at Bala in 1907. In 1910 he took the bardic name Hedd Wyn, Welsh for "Blessed Peace"[3],a reference to the sun’s rays penetrating the mists in the valleys of Meirionydd. Hedd Wyn's main influence was the Romantic poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and themes of nature and religion dominated his work. In 1913 he won the chairs at Pwllheli and Llanuwchllyn and in 1915 he was successful at Pontardawe and Llanuwchllyn. The same year he wrote his first poem for the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Eryri an ode to Snowdon. In 1916 he took second place at the Aberystwyth National Eisteddfod with Ystrad Fflur ("Strata Florida"), an awdl written in honour of the Medieval Cistercian abbey ruins in Ceredigion.[4] He determined to win the National Eisteddfodd chair the following year.

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