Friday, November 26, 2010

Old Welsh Song

Certain English-born writers of Welsh descent have sometimes overcompensated by going a bit native. John Cowper Powys, for instance, moved to Corwen and wrote books about Merlin and Owain Glyndwr that were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages long. Richard Hughes, author of A High Wind in Jamaica, could often be found on Welsh rivers piloting a coracle. Henry Treece, on the other hand, re-connected with his Cymric roots by writing the lyric, Old Welsh Song. In 1968 it was set to music by folk queen, Joan Baez, the track both opening and concluding her Baptism album. Lovely in a melancholy kind of a way her version is available as a ring tone for Welsh depressives everywhere. Here are those lyrics in full:

I take with me where I go a pen and a golden bowl;
Poet and beggar step in my shoes, or a prince in a purple shawl.
I bring with me when I return to the house that my father's hands made,
A crooning bird on a crystal bough and, o, a sad, sad word!