Gwalia Deserta XV

The poem on which the folk song The Bells of Rhymney was based

by Idris Davies (1905-1953)
O what can you give me?
Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Is there hope for the future?
Cry the brown bells of Merthyr.

Who made the mineowner?
Say the black bells of Rhondda.

And who robbed the miner?
Cry the grim bells of Blaina.

They will plunder willy-nilly,
Say the bells of Caerphilly.

They have fangs, they have teeth
Shout the loud bells of Neath.

To the south, things are sullen,
Say the pink bells of Brecon.

Even God is uneasy,
Say the moist bells of Swansea.

Put the vandals in court,
Cry the bells of Newport.

All would be well if - if - if -
Say the green bells of Cardiff.

Why so worried, sisters, why
Sing the silver bells of Wye.

Idris Davies, who had been a miner at Mardy Colliery, Rhymney, South Wales, from the age of 14, wrote this during a four-year period on the dole in his early 20s.

He was encouraged by Dylan Thomas and T S Eliot and in 1938 Eliot published a collection of Davies’ work, in a collection titled Gwalia Deserta (Wasteland if Wales).

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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