This polemic and tour de force, written in supple Welsh of a quality which could have graced Y Llenor, demolishes the Labourite myth that Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru during the pre-war years when led by Saunders Lewis was a fascist party. It describes this as a Big Lie born of internecine and sectarian conflict in the 1930s between a liberal and nonconformist Welsh-language estab-lishment and the new, upstart Welsh nationalism informed by Catholicism and Francophile leanings which sought to replace it...
In 1996, Phoenix Press published R.S. Thomas: Love Poems. Readers familiar with the lore surrounding the ‘Ogre of Wales’ must have found the title inten-tionally provocative, even oxymoronic. If so, the book’s opening line would have done nothing to change their minds: ‘I am the farmer, stripped of love…’ The book contained extraordinary work, but it was not clear in what sense it was to be thought of as love poetry. As a result, Love Poems did little to combat the idea of ‘R.S.’ perpetuated by many reviewers and columnists, who often cast him in the very image of that narrow, love-starved farmer.
The appearance of the second edition of this book co-incides with the most significant and transformational constitutional cha-nge in Wales since the age of the Tudors. And constitutional cha-nge has inspired a debate on the legal future of Wales. Should Wales be a separate jurisdiction? Does Wales have the legal capacity, culture and tradition to develop its own legal institutions and nurture its own legal identity in the post-devolution era? To help address these questions, this edition includes an updated final chapter on devolution which takes into account developments in the recent legal and constitutional history of Wales.
There are moments in The Roaring Boys when John Barnie’s poetry seems to hit a particularly fine sweet-spot, when his language and thought seem to run together to flow with what I find an especially appealing ease. The end of his Aberystwyth coastal poem ‘Did you see that?’ is a case in point. This piece considers goldfinches, ravens, and ‘a backdrop of implacable waves’, and concludes with the observation that ‘there are two kinds of gold worth hoarding,/ the flashes on finches’ wings, and gorse/ spilling its coinage on the banks of Pen Dinas’. There it is, in those final two lines: nothing fussy; no straining after stand-out words; a quietly effective but unshowy moment of metaphor (that ‘coinage’) to help bring an image sharply into mental sight.
Read more in the latest issue - click here to buy