Tra bo dau

While there are two

Music: Trad. arr. Peter Hill. Words: Trad. Anon
performance time approx 2m 15s
Range S: d' – d'' / A: b – d'' / T: g – d' / B: G – d'
Price code: C
Complexity: **

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It was the runaway success of 'Tra bo dau' and its uptake by the large Caernarfon Choir that helped give impetus to the folk song revival in Wales and the formation of the Welsh Folk Song Society in 1906. This version of the song was collected by Dr J Lloyd Williams, founder secretary of the WFSS, and was learnt from the singing of his wife and her sister, who came from Criccieth. The original choral arrangement was by Williams himself, written for a small choir at University College, Bangor, but here's a new one. Other words to the same tune are also known.

Pronunciation guide included.


Mae'r hon a gâr fy nghalon i
Ymhell oddi yma'n byw;
A hiraeth am ei gweled hi
A'm gwnaeth yn llwyd fy lliw.

Cyfoeth nid yw ond oferedd,
Glendid nid yw yn parhau;
Ond cariad pur sydd fel y dur
Yn para tra bo dau.

O'r dewis hardd ddewisais i
Oedd dewis lodes lân;
A chyn bydd 'difar gennyf fi
O rhewi wnaiff y tân.

Mae f'annwyl riain dros y lli,
Gobeithio'i bod hi'n iach!
'Rwy'n caru'r tir lle cerddo hi
Dan wraidd fy nghalon fach.

Source:Journal of the Welsh Folk Song Society: 'Caneuon traddodiadol y Cymry' selected and edited by W. S. Gwynn Williams, published 1961 by The Gwynn Publishing Co. Llangollen, N Wales (G.P.C. 8403)


It is she that my heart loves, living here far from her; and it is longing to see her that makes my colour pale.

Wealth is nothing but vanity; beauty will not last; but faithful love endures like steel, so long as two remain.

The fairest choice I ever made was the choice of a beautiful girl; and fire will freeze before I regret it.

My love is across the sea - I hope that she is well. In the depth of my heart I love the land where she walks.

Canasg editors

English singing version

A lovely girl's my heart's desire,
But I live far from my dear,
And through my longing for my love
I fade away right here.

Riches will rust and be scattered;
Beauty will wither right through;
But faithful love endures like steel,
As long as there are two.

The fairest path I ever walked
Was when I chose my mate.
And seas will boil and fire will freeze
Before I rue that fate.

My love lives far across the sea,
I wish her safe and well.
And from the very depths I know
I love my sweet-heart still.

© Peter Hill 2002

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