Gwalia Deserta

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Gwalia Deserta ("Wasteland of Wales") was the first published work of poet Idris Davies. Published in 1938, it is an extended poetical work. The verses it contained were inspired partly by such mining disasters as that at Marine Colliery at Cwm near Ebbw Vale in 1927, and by the failure of the 1926 UK General Strike, the Great Depression in the United Kingdom and their combined effects on the South Wales valleys.

The "Bells of Rhymney" verses, perhaps Davies' most widely known work, appear as Part XV of the book. The stanzas follow the pattern of the well known nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons". In the late 1950s the verses were adapted into a folk song by Pete Seeger entitled "The Bells of Rhymney" and has been covered by many others since.

Part XV, Verses 1-4[1]:
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.

References

  1. Gwalia Deserta - Part XV by Idris Davies