Saturday, 15 October 2011

On being Welsh

I was born and bred in Wales and I’m intensely proud. I grew up singing in Eisteddfods, writing poetry and prose and performing choral recitals at the Urdd. I cry every time I hear the national anthem. I am Welsh and I am proud.

My children are English and will be brought up here. Yet somehow I think they’ll never feel pride for their country, in the same way that I feel so overwhelmed to be part of mine. In England you don’t teach your kids to be proud of their heritage. You don’t teach them about your culture and why you are who you are. But you should. And I will.

They say that to be born Welsh is to be born with music in your heart and poetry in your soul. If you ever wondered where that came from, here’s the full poem. On today of all days – when Wales showed what a proud nation they are in the Rugby World Cup – this will probably make you cry.

In Passing by Brian Harris

To be born in Wales,
Not with a silver spoon in your mouth,
But, with music in your blood
And with poetry in your soul,
Is a privilege indeed.

Your inheritance is a land of Legend,
Of love and contrast.
A land of beauty so bright it burns the eyes.
Of ugliness that scars the Spirit
As the Earth.

Wales is an old land with wounds
That weep in hills.
They wept before in the bodies of men
And in the hearts of women
And time will never heal them.

The stigmata of sorrow,
Of pain and poverty,
Of lonely crucifixion in the dark,
Remain our lives to feed.

This Land of our Fathers was built on coal.
Its rivers of mingled blood and sweat
Have forever darkened it,
Relieved only by death.

We are a sad people.
Our sadness being wrapped in harps and music
And praise to God,
For the lovely, yearning light
That feeds the Spirit as well as the eyes.