16 April, 2008

Synopsis of the great Welsh novel

Dai K lives at the end of a valley. One is not quite sure
Whether it has been drowned or not. His Mam
Loves him too much and his Dada drinks.
As for his girlfriend Blodwen, she's pregnant. So
Are all the other girls in the village-there's been a Revival.
After a performance of Elijah, the mad preacher
Davies the Doom has burnt the chapel down.
One Saturday night after a dance at the Corn Club,
With the Free Wales Army up to no goood in the back lanes,
A stranger comes to the village; he is, of course,
God, the well known television personality. He succeeds
In confusing the issue, whatever it is, and departs
On the last train before the line is closed.
The colliery blows up, there is a financial scandal
Involving all the most respected citizens; the choir
Wins at the National. It is all seen, naturally,
Through the eyes of a sensitive boy who never grows up.
The men emigrate to America, Cardiff and the moon.
The girls find rich and foolish English husbands. Only daft Ianto
Is left to recite the Complete Works of Sir Lewis Morris
To puzzled sheep, before throwing himself over
The edge of the abandoned quarry. One is not quite sure
Whether it is fiction or not.

-- Harri Webb


Simeon said...

Harri web always could make me laugh.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well he doen't make me laugh at all! This poem is ridiculous. I have to study it believe it or not for GCSE and I have nothing at all to say about it except its rubbish. And incidentally nobody has anything to say about it as there is no analysis available at all.

debbie said...

i have to study it for my GCSES too and cant find any analysis about it but my english teacher is great and he made it understandable.

It just about the valley way of life and webb it taking the mick out of it. bit like jasper carrot and his songs on his comedy sketches.

he takes the mick out of how every village has the nutta "the mad preacher" and the tales of the village life and noone knows whether it is all made up or for real.

i think its great

debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy P said...

I'm glad it made Simon laugh. It made me laugh too but my English students didn't agree with me. I see it as being very "Vicar of Dibleyish" (Yes, I'm an English teacher and know that's not a word)

Cathy P said...

Sorry - it was Simeon

Anonymous said...

i don't get this poem

Anonymous said...

i am studying this poem for my english GCSE, and have found it almost imposible to find any analysis of this poem but this is what i know.

Webb here uses satire to juxtapose the ridiculous in the poem with actual serious problems linked to the decline of Welsh culture.

The 'Revival' here has a double meaning between reference to all the girls being pregnant and also a revival being a traditional welsh religious gathering with the point being that the culture has moved away from the religious, hence all the girls being pregnant and immoral.

Anonymous said...

The reference to the Wales free army is a nod towards the welsh nationalists burning down the english holiday homes in the 70's.... i'm not sure the ins and out of that situation so google it.

'God the well known tv personality' is the idea that religion has been replaced in culture by the tv in culture and the reference to leaving on the last train means that there is nothing to stay for

Anonymous said...

also note later on 'The Choir' is in capitals and refers to a horse in the Welsh National...

'The sensitive boy' is a reference to a play called ‘How Green was my Valley’ by Richard LLewellyn. The irony here is that despite the authors welsh name he was english and never ever visited wales except to research his book. the 'sensitive boy' in question in the play is a boy from a welsh mining villiage who's potential is noticed by his english teacher and he is sent to uni in england therefore escaping his terrible life in the welsh mining village

The reference to 'America, Cardiff and the moon' means that anywhere is better than where they are .

The last bit i know is that 'Ianto' is a petform welsh version of the name 'Ifan' which is the welsh rendering of 'John' another biblical message. The part about sheep satirises the fact that people have no understanding of or no weish to understand welsh culture or literature and therefore ianto kills himself. Its also a nod to the longstanding joke that there are more sheep in wales than people and also that the sheep are the only people left.

the final line means that fact is often stranger than fiction.

Anonymous said...

its important to understand that Harri Webb is a proud Welsh patriot

This poem is a satire of life in the Welsh mining villages following the collapse of the mining industry in the 1980s. The Great Welsh Novel in the title refers to literature which revealed the hardship of life in these communities and the stoic attitude towards the unrelenting grind of life and work.

Anonymous said...

i hope i've helped... i've got my exam today and this is a prime candidate for the higher.. i was sick when they did this in lesson and its been a real whore to get info on it lol... good luck all

c. cook
Crawley college 2009/2010

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