The remains of Castell Dinas Bran stand above the Welsh town of Llangollen. The brooding site is the backdrop for the sad love story of Myfanwy. She is a princess and renowned for her beauty throughout Powys in Wales. Myfanwy is proud of her looks and wants her many suitors to proclaim her beauty in song and verse. Many come to court her but are not able to compose songs that truly reflect her looks. She rejects them all.
However, in the valley beneath the castle lives a poor bard Hywel ap Einion. Taking his courage in his hands the young bard goes to the castle and sings and plays for Myfanwy. Whilst he performs his song to her she is captivated and will look at no other. Hywel ap Einion believes his love for her to be reciprocated because of this.
His hopes and dreams are thwarted when a rich, handsome and more articulate man comes to seek her affection. The dejected Hywel then wanders the forests and lands of Difrdwy and recites this sad poem to his unrequited love:
Oh fairer thou, and colder too,
Than new fallen snow on Arran’s brow
Oh lovely flower of Trevor race,
Let not a cruel heart disgrace
The beauties of thy heavenly face!
Thou art my daily thought each night
Presents Myfanwy to my sight.
Myfanwy is a popular Welsh song that is thought to derive inspiration from the story of Myfanwy of Dina Bran. It was composed by Joseph Parry in 1875 with lyrics by Richard Davies (1833 – 1877), who used as his pen name Mynyddog. Joseph Parry (21 May 1841 – 17 February 1903) was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. At the age of 13 years his family moved to United States of America. He lived in Danville, Pennsylvania where there was a significant Welsh community. When admitted to the Gorsedd at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1865 he took the bardic name "Pencerdd America". In Wales, Brittany and Cornwall a bardic name is one adopted by poets. The term Gorsedd refers to a gathering of bards in these three Celtic nations.
Joseph Parry returned from the USA and following a period studying music became Professor of Music at the University of Wales. He composed the opera Blodwen in 1878. This was the first opera written in Welsh with the libretto by Richard Davies, who had died in 1877. The birthplace of Joseph Parry, 4 Chapel Row, Merthyr Tydfil, is now a museum and open to the public from April – September.
See their website for details www.visitmerthyr.co.uk/attractions/joseph-parry's-cottage