Obituary: Dyfnallt Morgan

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The Independent Online
Dyfnallt Morgan, poet, dramatist, literary critic, translator and lecturer: born Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil 4 May 1917; married Eleri Eirug Davies (one son); died Bangor 6 October 1994.

DYFNALLT MORGAN had a unique role in 20th-century Welsh literature as a poet of national distinction, a dramatist, a literary critic and an outstanding translator from Welsh into English and English into Welsh.

He was brought up in the oldest industrialised settlement in South Wales, Merthyr Tydfil. Summer holidays spent with his aunt Miss Evans and her friend Miss Hawes in the picturesque village of Llanddewi Brefi in Cardiganshire ensured that in the end his poetry would be written in the oldest living tongue in Europe rather than the Anglo-Welsh of so many of his Merthyr contemporaries. Morgan won an open scholarship to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1935 and became a student in the Welsh department of Sir Thomas Henry Parry-Williams and David Gwenallt Jones.

Morgan wrote with great understanding on both poets: his study of Parry-Williams was published in 1971 and his essay on Gwenallt Jones appeared in the 'Writers of Wales' series in 1972.

During the Second World War Morgan was a conscientious objector and worked in a hospital and in the forestry industry before spending three years with the Friends' Ambulance Unit in Italy, Austria and China. He came home to Wales in 1947 with a paralysed arm.

In 1953 Morgan nearly won the national Eisteddfod crown at Rhyl (one of the three adjudicators, Saunders Lewis, would have given him the honour there and then) but in 1957 his metred play Rhwng Dau won him the crown at the Llangefni Eisteddfod. His collection of poetry Y Llen a Myfyrdodau Eraill was published in 1967.

Between 1954 and 1965 Morgan worked as a producer for BBC Wales and from then until his retirement in 1986 as a lecturer in Welsh literature in the extramural department of the University College of North Wales at Bangor.

As a translator Dyfnallt Morgan was a phenomenon. He translated Vaclav Cibula from the Czech and, with his wife Eleri Eirug Morgan, Chwe Chymeriad, a play by Pirandello. Among his outstanding achievements as a translator is his The Great Awakening in Wales (1985), in which he made English the exuberant Welsh of Professor Derec Llwyd Morgan's Y Diwygiad Mawr and the Welsh prose and poetry of the Methodist writers of the 18th century.