The School Bag

from Hateful Old Age

Wooden staff, it is autumn.
Brown the bracken, the stubble yellow;
What once I loved I’ve said farewell to.

Wooden staff, it is winter.
Men are loud-tongued over their drink;
None puts in at my bed’s brink.
Wooden staff, it is spring.
Cuckoos are hidden, clear their plaintive call;
Girls have no use for me at all.

Wooden staff, it is early summer.
Brown the furrow, curly the young corn;
The sight of your crook makes me groan.

Welsh - 9th century - translated by Gwyn Jones