Tim Saunders is a Cornish-language poet who resides in Cardiff, Wales. He also works as a journalist, writing in Breton, Cornish, Irish, Welsh, and English. A Bard of Gorseth Kernow, he is also editor of The Wheel, an anthology of modern Cornish poetry.
Cornish is recognized as an official minority language of Great Britain, spoken by roughly 2000 speakers. Since the early 1900s it has been one of the most heavily revitalized languages of Europe, and its literary champions, like Saunders, continue to promote its use as a language of daily life and culture.
Not unlike haiku, Saunders brief poems call places into being and recount the power of nature. Though, as he writes, “crag becomes gravel,” Cornish literature defies that attrition, as its writers shape gravel into crag.
Kleger dhe row kepar ha kyns;
tewes an myns a nos amal pow:
garm an gwanegow a worthyp dhe’n gwyns.
Crag becomes gravel just as formerly;
sand is all that marks the edge of a country:
it is the shout of the breakers that answers the wind.
Ewyn war row, trumm dhe lyr klys;
kerdh skwith a-brys, dewdhen ryb tan glow:
y kanav golow dhe beswar bann bys.
Foam on coarse sand, keel into sheltered waters;
a tired and timely walk, a couple by a coal fire:
I sing light to the four quarters of the world
Pan bowes roev, pan bowes pal,
yth hedh an howl yntra heyl ha hal:
ot anall glor yn-tromm war ow thal
When oar rests, when shovel rests,
the sun pauses between estuary and moor:
suddenly there is a cool breath on my forehead.