'Rewriting the Law-Books': The Poetry of Welsh Pop Music DAMIAN WALFORD DAVIES Note: Robert Frost described poetry as that which is lost in translation. Much of the art of the Welsh poems analysed below will indeed be lost in this English translation; at best, it will be greatly impaired. An unavoidably prosaic and seemingly lifeless English translation of a sophisticated Welsh original appearing 'naked' without the dress of music is something to which the translator must reconcile himself. Since, moreover, much of this paper focuses on fundamentally linguistic subtleties, any attempt to translate meaningfully such individual frissons will necessarily traduce the art of the original. Puns, to take an obvious example, are not transferable across language boundaries; their life is restricted to the genius of a specific language. Where relevant, therefore, an attempt has been made to convey the linguistic life of the Welsh in ex- planatory prose glosses in the body of the text. With the translations proper, I have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the Welsh while at the same time giving some sense at least of the linguistic flavour of the original. Everyone approaches pop music blinkered by prejudice and blinded by an unthinking acceptance of received canons of taste. Welsh pop music, being both 'popular' and marginal (an interesting paradox), contends with even greater prejudices. A stubborn stigma of inferiority, based on presuppositions about what 'culture' and 'art' entail, marks both the music and the language of the popular song. It is a stigma which even pop music's most ardent proselytes who pray at the altar of Siôn Aled's 'Almighty RockV tend silently to accept in spite of the conviction that the medium is an undeniably relevant part of our culture, and that pop music can display much musical and 'literary' talent. But there's the rub those inverted commas which allow the 'literary' to flirt with pop music but which will not allow pop lyrics to achieve the status of poetry. They jealously hold 'Literature' and 'Poetry' in the realm of polite élitism, affixing pre- scriptive, restrictive meanings to those terms. Something far removed