I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Celts vs. Saxons whitewash

Just back from north-west Wales where we celebrated Mrs LdP’s n’ty n’th at “a restaurant with rooms” which served us roast suckling pig, Pelorus rosé (Pelorus is the branch of Cloudy Bay that makes the fizz) and a 2005 Meerlust merlot. But where’s the music in all that?

True there was a distorted, very quiet muzak-y buzz, so bass-slanted that the vocals were an undecodable whisper, one step up from white noise. Luckily, 50 metres away were the ruins of Harlech Castle and we had our tune.

A very good tune. For hundreds of years England treated Wales like dirt; latterly Wales has hit back by beating us at rugby and via songs like:

Shall the Saxon army shake you,
Smite, pursue you, overtake you?
Men of Harlech God shall make you,
Victors, blow for blow.


Yes, there are other versions. But this is ours. Over the glorious mountain road between Dolgellau and Welshpool, we sang it aloud. Mrs LdP’s favourite two verses are:

Now avenging Briton,
Smite as he has smitten
Let your rage on history's page
In Saxon blood be written.

His lance is long, but yours is longer.
Strong his sword, but yours is stronger.
One stroke more, and now your wronger
At your feet, lies low.


I get the feeling if Avus reads this post he’ll accuse me of treachery. So be it. My patriotism – a wobbly quality at best – always takes second place to a good song with good words. Starts well too:

Fierce the beacon's light is flaming
With its tongues of fire proclaiming…


I mean, what have we got? The British Grenadiers? “With a tow, row, row, row, row, row…” Feeble!

7 comments:

earlybird said...

I don't think I've ever paid much attention to the words. They are, indeed, gloriously strong stuff.

On a par with the Marseillaise.

Plutarch said...

There is a moment Dylan Thomas' radio play Under Milk Wood when, following the plaintive song from First Voice which concludes

"O Tom Dick and Harry were three fine men
And I'll never have such loving again
But little Willy Wee who took me on his knee
Little Willy Weezle is the man for me",

The Reverend Eli Jenkins proclaims
with suitable intonations, "Praise the Lord we are a musical nation".

It invariably and rightly earns a cheer from the Welsh benches.

herhimnbryn said...

Cymru am byth!

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

EB: Proof that hatred of the English can be a powerful inspiration.

Plutarch: Polly Garter's garden which only grew babies, the policeman's helmet, the drawer "marked pyjamas" - so many quotes. But never a better one than Butcher Beynon's dream (or was it a nightmare?) when he finds himself running down the street with a finger ("not his own") in his mouth.

Lucy said...

I love the longer/stronger/wronger rhyme!

We had a version we sang in the car as kids about Ancient Britons wearing woad, which had the lines

'Romans keep your armours
Saxons your pyjamas...'

'Climb up Snowdon
With your woad on
Never mind if you get rained or blowed on...'

One of the minor benefits of spending my student years in Cardiff was getting to hear 'Land of My Fathers' on the crackly portable b/w telly at closedown, when you'd just smoked the last Silk Cut in the packet and you still had your assignment on Beowulf to finish before the next morning. Better than GSTQ anyway. Oh,and Sospan Vach belting out of the Arms Park when you went shopping on Saturday mornings.

Belated happy birthday to Mrs LdP!

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

Lucy: You rarely mention Beowulf on Box Elder. May I infer it never took?

I've just picked out Land of My Dads on my keyboard to see whether there are clues to its quality. One reason may be it's a sequence of small jumps whereas porridge-y lugubrious GSTQ is mainly a series of adjacencies. That isn't of course the real answer which lies in the way Welsh tenors, baritones and basses automatically split off into their designated lines even when drunk and unable to find the loo. The song's got texture.

As to maverick versions of established songs Richard, my musical mentor, didn't share my enthusiasm for France and used to irritate me with a hand-me-down Marseillaise starting with:

The Frenchman went to the lavatory

and ending with

Ou est le papier?.

He had several blindspots did Richard but not as many as my other musical mentor whom I blogged about more recently.

Avus said...

I accuse you of treachery, LdP.
But very quietly since my wife is half Welsh.
However, "David of the White Rock" (can't be bothered to look up the Welsh)always moves me.