Friday, April 16, 2010

Men of Harlech 2

Watching rugby, Wales vs Aust, with two exiled Welshmen, I was surprised that I was the only one of the three who knew the Welsh national anthem - "O Land of My Fathers" - learned at primary school, of course.
"Men of Harlech", also...but my memory has been short circuited by university songs.

Learned in primary school:
"Men of Harlech in the hollow, Do you hear the ---......ow,Wave on wave, like rushing billow? Battle's distant sound.
"Tis the sound of Saxon foemen, Saxon spearmen, Saxon bowmen. Be they knights, or hinds or yeoman, They shall bite the ground".

Now, I used to know the rest, as I learned it, but, as the melody changes, the memory has been totally supplanted by University songs:
"Some of us are mining. Some in Arts reclining. More and more embrace the law and revel in its method of refining.
Some are fools and some are clever, Faculties divide and sever,
Still, we all belong for ever, to our varsity."

That, in the 15th century, Harlech was beseiged by Saxons, sums up about all I know of Wesh history, so thank you to those who prescribed that song back then.

Universities have changed immeasurably since the 60s. I assume that "university songs" may be a part of history also.


Relatively Retiring said...

Oh,wonderful stuff - these Celtic songs to stir the the soul of the nation being adapted to bond the undergraduates!

Frances said...

Lovely to connect, Recently Retiring. Thank you so much for visiting, and I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Susannah said...

Bizarre that you know the welsh national anthem.
ANU had no university songs that I was aware of.
Uppsala in contrast had dozens that were well entrenched in its history since 1477 - I loved it, even though I often had no idea what the words meant, I just knew that I was part of something big and magnificent.

Frances said...

That's a Welsh song, not the anthem, which begins: "O, Land of my fathers/ In great days of yore/Our...fought for freedom/On Mona's green shore./Thy speech, thy song/ To thee belong/Oh may they live always in Wales."

I don't know that it was bizarre: it was passing on a british heritage, that we were regarded as part of...(yes, I know that I've muddled that up). Nowadays, I don't think that they particularly pass on even an Australian heritage. Perhaps I am wrong.

Frances said...

I meant British, not british, of course.