June 15, 2007

How to Write Anglo–Welsh Poetry by John Davies

It’s not too late I suppose…
You could sound a Last Post or two,
and if you could get away with saying
what’s been said, then do.

First, apologise for not being able
to speak Welsh. Go on: apologise.
Being Anglo-_any_thing is really tough;
any gaps you can fill with sighs.

And get some roots, juggle name like
Taliesin and ap Gwilym, weave
a Cymric web. It doesn’t matter what
they wrote. Look, let’s not be naive.

Now you can go on about the past
being more real than the present -
you’ve read your early R.S. Thomas,
you know where Welsh Wales went.

Spray place-names around. Caernarfon.
Cwmtwrch. Have perhaps a Swansea
sun marooned in Glamorgan’s troubled
skies; even the weather’s Welsh, see.

But a mining town is best, of course,
for impact, and you’ll know what to say
about Valley Characters, the heart’s dust
and the rest. Read it all up anyway.

A quick reference to cynghanedd
always goes down well; girls are cariad;
myth is in; exile, defeat, hills…
almost anything Welsh and sad.


Style now. Nothing fancy: write
all your messages as prose then chop
them up – it’s how deeply red and green
they bleed that counts. Right, stop.

That’s it, you’ve finished for now -
just brush your poems down: dead, fluffed
things but ayour own almost. Get
them mounted in magazines. Or stuffed.

in Wales: the Imagined Nation, Studies in Cultural and National Identity. Ed. Tony Curtis. Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986. 66-67.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Geoff Jones

    I love this poem for as a Welsh exile it completey & accurately sums up my feelings. The last line is strong & ironic but very true! I would like to add your blog to my Blog Roll if you agree.

    18 Aug 2007, 18:28

  2. Glad you liked the poem, Geoff. Feel free to add the blog to your Blog Roll. I liked your blog too.

    21 Aug 2007, 08:50

  3. Reeechard T

    Hi Zoe! Great poem. Is this from John Davies the currently alive Welsh poet? If so, I was wondering if you knew of any other links. He was a Fulbright Exchange teacher at my high school in 1984 and I produced a collection of poems called Chambers Creek Cantata under his tutelage. I have a new project I wanted to share with him and have had no luck finding any contact info. Any info you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers, kampai, na zdrovie, salud, yamseng, skoal, salute, a votre sante, l’chaim, proost and cheerio!

    Richard Thietje
    DoodleBug, Ink.

    25 Aug 2007, 22:16

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