Thursday, January 04, 2007


Toll, O bells of Rhymney

Throw the vandals in court, Say the bells of Newport. All will be well if, if, if, Cry the green bells of Cardiff. Why so worried, sisters why? Sang the silver bells of Wye. And what will you give me? Say the sad bells of Rhymney? --from "Gwalia Deserta" by Idris Davies, popularized by Pete Seeger (Image by Gren of the South Wales Echo, reproduced in the BBC) From the BBC Gren, one of Wales' best-known and long-serving newspaper cartoonists, has died aged 72. Gren - real name Grenfell Jones - drew daily cartoons for the South Wales Echo for more than 35 years. His cartoons depicted south Wales valleys life, centred on the fictional village of Aberflyarff.... Gren's humour concentrated on traditional valleys life in south Wales, with rugby, tightly-packed terraced streets and Nigel and Neville the message-bearing sheep, frequently recurring images.

I am interested in learning about the Poem/Song "The Bells of Rhymney". I first heard it sung by Joan Baez approximately 40 years ago. I would be appreciative if you would explain its meaning. Thank you.
The poem by Idris Davies refers to a mining accident, Nick. The volume Gwalia Deserta (Gwalia is an ancient term for Wales) was published in 1938. Here's a brief bio.

The song itself was set to the pattern of Oranges and Lemons, according to Wikipedia. .

Here's a discussion thread with more information.

Thanks for asking. :-)
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