A fascinating piece of quirkiness on Pont Rhyd-y-Gwaed, over the River Clywedog at Rhewl. Built in 1819, the bridge was inscribed with a poem at the time of its creation. Written in the Englyn style, a traditional form of short poem, in which quantitive metres are used, involving a strict counting of syllables with rigid patterns of rhyme. Each line of the poem will have a repeating pattern of consonants, and an accent known as a ‘cynghanedd’. As such, the poem poses issues in producing an easy translation, which retains the rhyme…but of course, it was never really meant to be translated. A translation of sorts is given below, and is to be found in Gordon Emery’s rather wonderful, ‘Curious Clwyd 2’, and does an excellent job in maintaining the meaning of the poem and something of the rhyme.
‘Blood ford bridge, truth mantle making – On bedrock
Its foundation withstand shaking
So well it will be waiting
For generations waking.’
The poem seems to be accurate, since while other bridges in the district have suffered from flood damage in the past, the Pont Rhyd-y-Gwaed has resolutely survived.