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The old mansion of Cefn Ydfa, in the parish of Llangynwyd, now lies in ruins. It was once home to Ann Thomas (1704-27), better known these days as 'The Maid of Cefn Ydfa'. Her sad story was immortalized by her true love, Will Hopkyn a local labourer and poet in the poem and song 'Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn', 'Shepherding the White Wheat'.
Anne and Will Hopkyn were in love, but the difference in their social status made marriage impossible. Anne was the heiress to her father's lands, the mansion and grounds of Cefn Ydfa. Her father, William Thomas, arranged a good marriage for her with Anthony Maddocks, the son of a well to do lawyer of Cwmrisga. She was forbidden from ever seeing Will Hopkyn again, and against her will, was married to Anthony Maddocks on the 4th of May 1725.
Will Hopkyn left the parish, driven away by his anguish, unable to see Anne married to another man, and sometime soon after penned the poem 'Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn in which he relates their sad tale. But the story doesn't end there. Within two years of her marriage, Anne's grief at being parted turned into a sickness. Within two years she was evidently dying, most say of a broken heart. Her last wish was to see Will again, and he was sent for. He arrived just in time to take her in his arms for one last embrace. According to the tale, she died in his arms, and was buried in June 1727 under the chancel of St Cynnwyd's Church in Llangynnwyd. Will Hopkyn was buried close by in the churchyard upon his death in 1741.
Additional stories and anecdotes were added to the romance of Ann and Wil Hopkyn by Isaac Craigfryn Hughes in his novel The Maid of Cefn Ydfa (1881).
All that is left now of their romance is this story and of course Will's beautiful song. Here it is.
BUGEILIO'R GWENITH GWYN
Mi sydd fachgen ieuanc ffôl
Yn byw yn ôl fy ffansi
Myfi'n bugeilio'r gwenith gwyn,
Ac arall yn ei fedi.
Pam na ddeui ar fy ôl,
Rhyw ddydd ar ôl ei gilydd?
Gwaith 'rwyn dy weld, y feinir fach,
Yn lanach, lanach beunydd!
Glanach, lanach wyt bob dydd,
Neu fi â'm ffydd yn ffolach,
Er mwyn y Gŵr a wnaeth dy wedd,
Gwna im drugaredd bellach.
Cwnn dy ben, gwêl acw draw,
Rho i mi'th law wen dirion;
Gwaith yn dy fynwes bert ei thro
Mae allwedd clo fy nghalon!
Tra fo dŵr y môr yn hallt,
A thra fo 'ngwallt yn tyfu
A thra fo calon yn fy mron
Mi fydda'n ffyddlon iti:
Dywed imi'r gwir dan gel
A rho dan sel d'atebion,
P'un ai myfi neu arall, Ann,
Sydd orau gan dy galon.
I am a young and foolish lad
Who lives as I please
I lovingly tend the ripening wheat
And another reaps it.
Why not follow me
Some day after another?
Because I see you little lass,
Purer and purer each day!
Purer and purer are you every day,
Or I with my faith more foolish,
For the One that created your countenance,
Be compassionate towards me now.
Lift your head, look over there,
Give me your dear white hand;
Because in your lovely breast
Is the key to the lock of my heart!
Whilst the water of the sea is salty,
And whilst my hair is growing
And whilst there is a heart in my bosom
I will be faithful to you:
Tell me the truth in secret
And give under seal your answers,
Whether it is I or another, Ann,
Which is preferred by your heart.