Celebrating a Gifted Welsh Poet

The story of Hedd Wyn, one of the many artists killed in the Great War.

The judges of the Eisteddfod, which was held at Birkenhead near Liverpool that year, were unaware that Hedd Wyn had died of his wounds at the age of 30 on July 31 at Pilkem Ridge during the battle of Passchendaele.

At the award ceremony the archdruid rose to summon the poet, in the traditional fashion, to come to take the chair, calling him three times to make himself known. But it then had to be revealed, to the consternation of the gathering, which included the prime minister, David Lloyd George, that Hedd Wyn had fallen while fighting with the Royal Welch Fusiliers “somewhere in France.” The empty chair was draped with a black shroud, and the festival of that year has ever since been called Eisteddfod y Gadair Ddu (The Eisteddfod of the Black Chair).