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Travelling on My Own Errands: Voices of Women from The Mabinogi, poems by Margaret Lloyd

Travelling on My Own Errands: Voices of Women from The Mabinogi.

Lloyd succeeds in reimagining and reanimating the old tales in a startlingly original and intimate way. A scholar’s meticulousness is visible here, enhanced by an almost uncanny and creative empathy which the poet has for these characters.


   — Katie Gramich, Professor of English Literature, Cardiff University


The voices here have an elemental quality, grounding the poems in the permanent features of Welsh landscape and its creatures - sea and sky, the seasons, beasts and birds and flowers. With these poems we see clearly the depths of women’s experience within a lovingly rendered Wales.


   — Jeremy Hooker, poet and critic; Emeritus Professor, University of South Wales


The voices in Travelling on My Own Errands are, as it were, ‘Janus-faced’, coming from a remote past, yet speaking to us in terms that the modern mind can readily understand.


   — John Barnie, poet and critic; former editor of Planet


These poems go way beyond their sources and stand alone as a compelling expression of elemental human experience.


   — Dafydd Johnston, Director, Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth


Y mae’r casgliad hwn o safon uchel. Mae Margaret Lloyd yn feistr ar ei chyfrwng, yn gynnil ac yn gall wrth ein tywys drwy guddfeddyliau ac emosiynau’r gwahanol gymeriadau. Ni ellid gwell man cychwyn na’r Pedair Cainc ar gyfer project fel hwn, na gwell hebryngydd ar y daith.


   Marged Haycock, Emeritus Professor of Welsh, Aberystwyth University


Translation from Welsh:

(This collection is of a high standard. Margaret Lloyd is a master of her medium, skillful and

dexterous at leading us through the hidden thoughts and emotions of the different characters.

There can be no better starting point than the Four Branches for a project like this, nor a better

guide on the journey.)


I have arrived to tell you all  

there is some relief

from leaving off being

human and becoming

what runs in the fields

or sleeps in the stable,

eats grasses and carries

the burdens of the world.  

It is a relief, I tell you.  

The way shame releases us

from grandiosity, from showing

only pride. Let those who want

to take things away from you

have their way.  Let people

who wish to save themselves

by using you, save themselves.

The truth is, I became more

than human, not less,

when I became the horse

carrying others on my back.


A feast always follows a sacrifice,

but how long can it last?


Death, do not leave me behind.


I cannot accept the consolation—  

fire built by the sea at night,

singing of birds over the waters,

the companionship and history to come. 


My heart is too full or too empty.

And now I know that death

is the place where too much

feeling and no feeling meet.


And now that it is over,

who will see me out?  


Who will do something with my body

for the last time? Burn it or bury it.  


Who will touch me while I am still warm

with my bereft and broken heart

on the green banks of the river Alaw.




Any creation complies only so far,

and then can’t be controlled.


Ask yourself—who cradled me

in their arms when I was small

and needed comfort?  Who said


dear Blodeuedd and rocked me?

No one.  All that happens,

happens without history.


Something is missing in me.

Or is something added?  Or both?


I whisper to myself at night, I say

sweet white bones, sweet skin,

sweet love, dear Blodeuedd.

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