Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Remembering Welsh Poet Idris Davies - The Dreamer - "In the Mountain Dusk the Dream was Born"

Heres a virtual movie of the celebrated Welsh Coal miner poet Idris Davies reading"The Dreamer" This poem was first published in his 1938 collection of poems Gwalia Deserta (literally in English means "The Leaving of Wales"

Davies's self-division in Gwalia Deserta, as elsewhere in his work, is no better dramatized than in his attitude to "dream". "Dream", "dreaming", "dreamer" constitute one of the most important groups of words in his verse; of the thirty-six poems in the sequence, fifteen employ one or more of its variants.

We've already encountered one example: "It is bitter to know that all his dreams / Are roses that die to nourish the weeds..." Here the poet's attitude to dreams is ambiguous: their identification with roses suggests that they are both natural and beautiful: yet at the same time they're ineffectual, living and dying only to have their substance utilized by growths that are neither useful nor beautiful. Let us ask, then, what Davies means by "dreams".

He never defines the concept clearly,

but I think we can identify it as the realisation of socialist aspiration through the creation of a society in which men and women are economically and socially equal, a society in which justice can everywhere and at all times be seen to be dispensed, a society in which individual men and women can develop their talents and capacities to the full and, whatever the nature of their work, can hold up their heads with pride.

Typically Davies's narrator wanders away from the mining town into the mountains, where, in the clean air, listening to lark-song, he experiences a Wordsworthian exultancy:

Idris Davies (born 6 January 1905 Rhymney, died April 6th  1953), was a Welsh poet, originally writing in Welsh, but later writing exclusively in English. He was the only poet to cover significant events in the early 20th century in the South Wales Valleys and the South Wales coalfield, and from a perspective literally at the coalface. He is now best known for the poem Bells of Rhymney, He qualified as a teacher through courses at Loughborough College and the University of Nottingham.

He took teaching posts in London during the Second World War, and then Wales, returning to the Rhymney Valley [1] in 1947. His second collection of poems was taken by T. S. Eliot for Faber and Faber (1945). Idris Davies died from abdominal cancer in 1953, aged 48.

The Dreamer.......

There in the dusk the dreamer dreamed

Of shining lands, and love unhampered

By the callous economics of a world

Whose god is Mammon.

There in the mountain dusk the dream was born,

The spirit fired, and the calm disturbed

By the just anger of the blood.

Wilder than the politician's yellow tongue

And stronger than the demagogue's thunder,

The insistent language of the dream would ring

Through the dear and secret places of the soul.

O fresher than the April torrent, the words of indignation

Would clothe themselves with beauty, and be heard

Among the far undying echoes of the world.

And slowly the west would lose its crimson curves,

The larks descend, the hidden plover cry,

And the vast night would darken all the hills.

Jim Clark
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2011. Edited Text also from Jim Clark


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