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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Celebrating Wales: A fairy-tale of the Welsh Sea

Some of you may be following my Russian Fairytales feature, well today I am particpating in Asamum Booktopia's celebration of St David's Day and everything Welsh and so I decided to read a Welsh fairytale and see how it evokes the landscape of Wales.

The story I chose to read was The Salt Welsh Sea from the collection Stories from Wales by Gwyn Jones. It stood out to me because I love the sea and have spent many a summer day on the Welsh coast around the Mumbles and little bays near by.

The Salt Welsh Sea is the story of three brothers. They were born in a yellow-washed house on Welsh Tramping Road. Each brother grew up and had a different career. Glyn ploughed the land. Lyn ploughed the sea. But the youngest brother Maldwyn ploughed only his own worries. He spent his days with his wife wandering the highways. When they happened to pass the family home, they would ask Glyn for a helping hand. But eventually he got fed up with them, he gave them a plump little pig and tricked them into going to Blazes.

Maldwyn didn't know what Blazes was but he soon found out. He wandered into the path of an old man who told him Mr Blazes would want to buy his pig but that he should only part with it in exchange for the special handmill.

So that is just what Maldwyn did. He and his wife returned to the old man and he taught them how to use the handmill and how to stop it. They used the handmill to grind themselves a house and many more things beside until they became very rich indeed and word of their wealth spread. Soon they received a visit from Maldwyn's brother Glyn. He got Maldwyn blind drunk until he revealed the secret power of the handmill.

Glyn stole away with the handmill and had it grind him maids and ale. He didn't know how to stop it and soon he was swimming in beer as were his beautiful maids. Maldwyn soon realised what had happened and took the mill back and put a stop to the growing see of beer.

The following week Maldwyn received a visit from his other brother Lyn who ploughed the sea for salt. He too learned of the power of the mill and sang to it to grind salty salt. He was upon his boat when this happened and the salt spilled over into the sea.

A while later the old man who had advised Maldwyn to bargain for the handmill came past. He saw the mermaids swimming in the salty ocean. he reflected on own his power to move in mysterious ways.

The author of the tale then tells us this is why the Welsh coast is so very salty and is apparently getting saltier.

I love the Welsh coast. I can easily believe there are mermaids swishing their tales through changing waters. I have no idea if the sea is getting saltier but I love how this tale interprets the idea.


Asamum said...

What a fantastic tale. Thank you for the terrific review.
It also shows that the welsh like their drink lol :D

Vivienne said...

I love the Welsh names.Maldwyn is just such an unusual name. What a great Welsh short story.