Week 196: Queen Street, Cardiff, by Idris Davies

The Welsh poet Idris Davies (1905-1953) is probably best known now for his poem ‘The Bells of Rhymney’, which was set to music by Pete Seeger and has entered the folk tradition. Davies is not the most subtle of poets: the mainspring of his work is a fine socialist anger (he worked for some years as a miner and participated in the General Strike of 1926), but it is also characterised by a poignant urban lyricism, a genuine sense of identification with his fellow men and a deep rootedness in his time and place, Wales between the wars.

Queen Street, Cardiff

When the crowds flow into Queen Street from the suburbs and the hills
And the music of the hour is the music of the tills,
I sometimes gaze and wonder at my fellows passing by
Each one with dreams and passions, each one to toil and die.

And I almost hear the voices of a throng I never knew
That passed through this same Queen Street, and under skies as blue,
And they too had their laughter, their sorrow, in their day
And they too went a journey with an unreturning way.

And other generations in distant years to be
Shall walk and crowd through Queen Street, in joy or misery,
And they shall laugh and grumble and love and hate and lust,
Their living flesh oblivious of our eternal dust.

But banish all such brooding, for May is in the air,
And Jack from Ystrad Mynach loves Jill from Aberdare,
And however Life shall use them, they shall talk in years to be
Of when they were young in Queen Street in the city by the sea.

Idris Davies


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