Once upon a time, there was a woman made for a man.
She was created entirely from flowers, just for him.
But then she fell in love with someone else, and decided to kill the man, to be with her lover.
He was too powerful for that.
He turned Blodeuwedd into an owl, and killed her lover anyway.
Like Blodeuwedd, owls are on the edges of things.
They come out at night.
People may be afraid of them – but they still have a power that is not so easily controlled…
You might know something of this story from Alan Garner’s The Owl Service, or from the Mabinogi(on), the Welsh legends that shaped a people. Yes, most of them are about men fighting each other. And the ones about the women don’t tend to end too well. Yet it’s the women who have produced the best translations. Charlotte Guest’s translation, including Blodeuwedd’s story, was the first to be printed, and was published from 1838. The most recent translation, by Sioned Davies, Chair of Welsh at Cardiff University, really sings. And these stories are still being retold.
The new retellings published by Seren Press include Gwyneth Lewis’ The Meat Tree, which puts Bloedeuwedd’s story 200 years ahead of us as science fiction, or another clash in “the battle between meat and magic, between body and imagination.”
The image is from this rather lovely blog, Whistles in the Wind. Thank you.
And happy St David’s Day!