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Diary of a Literature Student: medieval Celtic poetry

It has been longer than I care to admit, but my ability to engage with a piece of literature has faltered the longer I’ve been in my degree. Losing a passion for something you love becomes increasingly easy when you can’t connect with what you are doing, especially during times such as these.

Throughout these last few weeks, I’ve felt as though I have been brought back to life and all it took was poetry and prose from medieval Gaelic and Welsh to do so.

The history and struggle of Wales has always been a curiosity of mine that I sought to understand properly. It wasn’t until I read the poems written by great Welsh poets such as Taliesin and Aneirin that I found myself weeping for the suffering that had taken place. Poems of warriors and battles, of those who had lost their lives fighting for their land and stories of those who got left behind in the wake of conquest and of defeat.

In ​The Gododdin, ​poems​ ​that are said to have been written by Aneirin, convey great symbolism and imagery and you find yourself on the battlefield along with them. However, it wasn’t their ‘blood stained’ swords or ‘certain meeting with death’ that drew me to them, but their idea of unity and brotherhood, and that ‘in hardship, in ease, they fought for their land.’

Often, I find that poetry has the power to ease the mind of worry and stress. When I find myself unable to cope, I read the words of Maya Angelou and Rupi Kaur, Wordsworth and Yeats. But I have a newfound appreciation for literature ever since I’ve had the pleasure of reading medieval Welsh poetry.

In a time when my own country is fighting political battles every day and where women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg are put to rest, it is these words that echo through my mind.

I only hope that the bravery and resilience of warriors in the kingdoms of Gododdin and Rheged run through me in the upcoming weeks and I have the courage to do what is right for my country and my people, through to the bitter end.

Image: IslesPunkFan via Flickr

By Ece Kucuk

Ece Kucuk served as President of The Student in 2021/22 and is currently a regular contributor to the paper. She was previously Head Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor, she has also been a writer at The Student for over two years. She is going into her Fourth Year of a Master of Arts with Honours in English Language and Literature and plans to do her Postgraduate in Education and Child Development. She has written for every section of the paper as well as written for The Rattlecap and other publications. Some of her favourite works include her reflection on being the child of an immigrant, her piece on introducing ice hockey, as well as her interview with children’s author Mariam James.