The National Eisteddfod A Point of View. By lorwerth C. Peate, M.A. WHEN the Editor of the Welsh Outlook asked me to express my opinion on matters Eisteddfodic, I tried to sum up the many criticisms which I had heard of the Eisteddfod, as well as its many virtues, and the attempting of that simple task showed me how difficult it is to look upon the problem (for it is a problem) from a general standpoint: and I have come to the conclusion that such an attitude is unprofitable for my present purpose. My readers must forgive me therefore for de- voting the space at my disposal to a, criticism and not an appreciation, bearing in mind that there is another side and that I am cognisant of it. I must be forgiven too for expressing only a per- sonal opinion and elucidating a point of view which may not be shared completely by anybody else, but which is quite sincere and well-meant. Many will disagree very heartily with my criti- cisms that is "all to the good," but I may point out that while I do not expect anyone to agree with my point of view in toto I am bold to be- lieve, without indulging in any degree of com- placency, that I can express in part the outlook of a fair proportion of a class which has earned for itself the very honourable title of "young rebels." It seems to me that much criticism of the Eisteddfod is misdirected critics speak of the National Eisteddfod in terms of the Gorsedd. It would be quite as reasonable to assert that there are no poets except Gorsedd poets. The Gorsedd has never been an integral part of the Eisteddfod. It came into being as a rival institution that was in the days before it came to provide English visitors and Welsh enthusiasts with a splash of colour and mistaken ideas of early Welsh cos- tume. It will be well therefore to treat of the National Eisteddfod distinct from any later accretions of a different character and of incon- sequent importance. I An Eisteddfod is a meeting for competition and adjudication-in the past, concerned with poetry alone. The Eisteddfod authorities award money prizes. The result is that the elements of personal monetary gain and of struggle with fellow-artists must necessarily be prominent features in every Eisteddfod. This is fatal to real art. Competition incites the competitor to "go one better," with the result very often that National Eisteddfod realism is nothing more than an ambitious competitor's artificial attempt to be strikingly original, and consequently successful. It follows that a very large percentage of the Eisteddfod compositions (I refer more particularly to the Chair and Crown compositions) are nothing more than artificial humbug, while the best productions very often, if not generally, bear the impress of artificiality and can be reasonably defined as literary exercises. On the other hand, the money prizes in the literature section are still more baneful. I agree that prizes at local Eisteddfodau are very often a boon to a poor aspirant to fame, but in the National Eisteddfod that atmosphere should disappear, since its purpose-the advancement of the arts-is higher. But in existing circum- stances, one finds men grown gre" with age turn- ing up year after year for Eisteddfod prizes. They produce no work of art, but are capable of writing a "cywydd or a "bugeilgerdd" or a "hir- a-thoddaid" of a slightly higher standard than those of their fellows. If literature is to remain part of the Eisteddfod programme it must become less competitive in character and money prizes must be banned, unless one desires to reduce the Eisteddfod to the level of a competitive examin- ation for bursaries. II. Then there arises the question of subjects. Many of these are often local in character, and most of them are confined to one type. What is really required of the Eisteddfod is that it should help the production of a new work of art, annually if possible, of supremely national worth, in poetry, prose, drama, music or the crafts, and it would be exceedingly appropriate that the Eisteddfod Crown should be awarded for that work, whatever it might be. I believe that the Chair should remain the award for the best poem (strict or free metre) of the year- to maintain the old Eisteddfodic tradition- and it would happen, and should happen, that on some occa- sions both the Chair and Crown would be awarded for the same work. In the prose and drama section, there is room for much improvement. A period of twelve months is far too short for the writing of long detailed, technical essays such as are subjects for annual competition. It is quite absurd to ex- pect any work of real merit to be produced in twelve months on a subject such as "The In- fluence of the Celt in Western Europe," which was a subject at a recent Eisteddfod. One can only expect very superficial, and most often use- less, treatment of subjects under such conditions, with the result that in this direction the adjudi- cators have to admit very often a very low stand- ard, and the Eisteddfod gives its blessing to a method of research and a type of work which is not only lacking in true scholarship and useless to the real scholar, but creates standards of scholastic judgement, amongst the many com- petitors, fatal to the advancement of learning in our land. At times, of course, there are essays which are of very real merit, but it is safe to assert that they are usually the work of experts who have been fortunate to combine National Eisteddfod competition with the special work to