Cymdeithas Hanes Teuluoedd Clwyd
Clwyd Family History Society
Clwyd FHS

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Songs & Poems

Llangollen Market

Llangollen

It's far beyond the mountains that look so distant here,
To fight his country's battles, last Mayday went my dear;
Ah, well shall I remember with bitter sighs the day,
Why, Owen, did you leave me? At home why did I stay?

Ah, cruel was my father that did my flight restrain,
And I was cruel-hearted that did at home remain,
With you, my love, contented, I'd journey far away;
Why, Owen, did you leave me? At home why did I stay?

While thinking of my Owen, my eyes with tears do fill,
And then my mother chides me because my wheel stands still,
But how can I think of spinning when my Owen's far away;
Why, Owen, did you leave me? At home why did I stay?

To market at Llangollen each morning do I go,
But how to strike a bargain no longer do I know;
My father chides at evening, my mother all the day;
Why, Owen, did you leave me, at home why did I stay?

Oh, would it please kind heaven to shield my love from harm,
To clasp him to my bosom would every care disarm,
But alas, I fear, 'tis distant - that happy, happy day;
Why, Owen, did you leave me, at home why did stay?

This 19th century song tells the sad tale of a young girl from the Llangollen area whose boyfriend had gone off to war, never to return.

 

The Gresford Disaster

Gresford Memorial

Gresford Memorial

You've heard of the Gresford Disaster,
Of the terrible price that was paid;
Two hundred and sixty-three colliers were lost,
And three men of the rescue brigade.

It occurred in the month of September
At three in the morning the pit
Was racked by a violent explosion
In the Dennis where gas lay so thick.

Now the gas in the Dennis deep section
Was packed there like snow in a drift,
And many a man had to leave the coal-face
Before he had worked out his shift.

Now a fortnight before the explosion,
To the shotfirer Tomlinson cried,
"If you fire that shot we'll be all blown to hell!"
And no one can say that he lied.

Now the fireman's reports they are missing
The records of forty-two days;
The collier manager had them destroyed
To cover his criminal ways.

Down there in the dark they are lying.
They died for nine shillings a day;
They have worked out their shift and now they must lie
In the darkness until Judgment Day.

Now the Lord Mayor of London's collecting
To help out the children and wives;
The owners have sent some white lilies
To pay for the poor colliers' lives.

Farewell, all our dear wives and our children
Farewell, all our comrades as well,
Don't send your sons down the dark dreary mine
They'll be doomed like the sinners in hell.


The Gresford Disaster occurred on 22nd September, 1934 at Gresford Colliery on the outskirts of Wrexham, when an explosion killed 266 men and boys. Only eleven bodies were ever recovered, the remains of the other victims were left underground when the damaged sections of the mine were permanently sealed.
The song was issued as a broadsheet soon after the disaster, but the writer remains unknown. The song became more widely know when it was recorded by the Cardiff folk group, The Hennessys, in 1972.

 

The Miller of Dee

The original version of the song from Bickerstaffe's "Love in a village" (1762)

There dwelt a miller, hale and bold, beside the River Dee;
He danced and sang from morn till night, no lark so blithe as he;
And this the burden of his song forever used to be: -
"I care for nobody, no not I, if nobody cares for me.

"I live by my mill, God bless her! she's kindred, child, and wife;
I would not change my station for any other in life;
No lawyer, surgeon, or doctor e'er had a groat from me;
I care for nobody, no not I if nobody cares for me."

When spring begins his merry career, oh, how his heart grows gay;
No summer's drought alarms his fear, nor winter's cold decay;
No foresight mars the miller's joy, who's wont to sing and say,
"Let others toil from year to year, I live from day to day."

Thus, like the miller, bold and free, let us rejoice and sing;
The days of youth are made for glee, and time is on the wing;
This song shall pass from me to thee, along the jovial ring;
Let heart and voice and all agree to say, "Long live the king."

A later, and more popular, version was published in 'The Convivial Songster' in 1782.

There was a jolly miller once
Lived on the River Dee
He danced and he sang from morn till night
No lark so blithe as he.
And this the burden of his song
For ever used to be
I care for nobody, no, not I
If nobody cares for me.

I live by my mill, God bless her!
She's kindred, child, and wife
I would not change my station
For any other in life.
No lawyer, surgeon, or doctor
E'er had a groat from me
I care for nobody, no, not I,
If nobody cares for me.

When Spring begins its merry career
Oh! how his heart grows gay
No summer drought alarms his fears
Nor winter's sad decay
No foresight mars the miller's joy
Who's wont to sing and say
Let others toil from year to year
I live from day to day.

Thus like the miller, bold and free
Let us rejoice and sing
The days of youth are made for glee
And time is on the wing.
This song shall pass from me to thee
Along this jovial ring
Let heart and voice and all agree to say
Long live the King'.

A weir was built across the River Dee in the centre of the city of Chester during the Middle Ages to maintain high water levels for several water mills which stood on the banks of the river.
Bickerstaffes' poem tells the story of one of these millers. The song is usually sung to the old Welsh harp tune 'Llydaw' ('Brittany').

 

The Sands of Dee

by Charles Kingsley (1819–1875)

Dee Estuary

"O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee;"
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o'er and o'er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land:
And never home came she.

"Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair,
A tress of golden hair,
A drowned maiden's hair
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes of Dee".

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea:
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee.

The Dee Estuary has always been notorious for its shifting sands and fast encroaching tides. Kingsley's poem increased its reputation as a place of mystery and legend.

 

Cadi Ha

Cadi Ha

Hwp, ha wen!

Cadi ha, Morys stowt,
Dros yr uchle'n neidio,
Hwp, dene fo!

Fy ladal i, a'i ladal o,
A'r ladal ges i fenthyg,
Hwp, dene fo!

A chynffon buwch a chynffon llo,
A chynffon Rhisiart Parri'r go,
Hwp, dene fo!

A fi di gwr y rhuban coch,
Neidiaf dros y gafna,
Hwp, dene fo!

A traditional song from the Gŵyl Cadi Ha of Flintshire. There are several versions of the song.
In 'Cambrian Popular Antiquities', 1815, the Cadi Ha is described as a dance by nine men, decorated with ribbons and small bells. These were accompanied by a Fool and a man dressed as a woman called Megan.
The Cadi Ha is performed annually in Holywell and Caerwys on the Saturday before Mayday. This is one of the many 'Calan Haf' (equivalent to the Gael's 'Beltane') festivals in Wales which go back to ancient Celtic times.


This page was last revised 4th January 2014
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