Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Here's to the Welsh on St. David's Day!


Wales, Wales, sweet are thy hills and vales,
Thy speech, thy song
To thee belong,
O may they live ever in Wales

- Evan James, Welsh poet (1809 – 1878)
From Land of My Fathers {1856]
Today is March 1, the feast day of St. David. St. David is the patron Saint of Wales. Although his exact date of his birth is uncertain, David was born around the year 500 A.D. and is thought to have died on March 1, about 90 or more years later. He was a church official and a native of Wales. He gained recognition as a teacher and preacher who founded monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Dumnonia and Brittany.

* David is depicted as a bishop with a dove, usually on his shoulder.

* The remains of St. David were buried at what is now the Cathedral of St. David's in Pembrokeshire, west Wales.

* In 1120, David was officially recognized by the Vatican under Pope Callixtus II.

* In Cardiff, Wales, there is an annual St. David’s Day parade. It is a very colourful and enjoyable event.

Below is a depiction of St. David on a 19th century stained glass window in Jesus College Chapel, Oxford.  Notice the dove on his shoulder.

St. David


The land of my fathers. My fathers can have it.

- Dylan Thomas
In Adam, December 1953

‘I often think,’ he continued, ‘that we can trace almost all the disasters of English history to the influence of Wales.”

- Evelyn Waugh (1903 1966), English novelist
From Decline and Fall [1928]

There is no present in Wales,
And no future
There is only the past,
Brittle with relics . . .
And an impotent people,
Sick with inbreeding,
Worrying the carcase of an old song.

- R.S. Thomas (1913–2000), Welsh poet and clergyman
From Welsh Landscape [1955]

It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole word  . . .  But for Wales - !

- Robert Bolt, English playwright
From A Man for All Seasons [1960]

Everyday when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Welsh.

- Cerys Matthews, Welsh singer
From International Velvet (1998 song)


Here is a random list of the most famous Welsh men and women I can think of, living and dead.

Actor Richard Burton (1925–1984) was born in the village of Pontrhydyfen, Neath Port Talbot, Wales.

The poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) was born in Uplands, Swansea, Wales.

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (1969- ) was born in Swansea. West Glamorgan, Wales.

Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins (1937- ) was born at Port Talbot, Glamorgan, Wales.

Singer Tom Jones (1940- ) was born at Treforest, Pontypridd, Wales.

David Lloyd George (1863-1945), former British Prime Minister, was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, England. He was, however, a Welsh-speaker and of Welsh descent – the only British Prime Minister so far to have that distinction.

Designer Laura Ashley (1925-1985) was born at Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.


* Wales has a population of approximately 3 million based on findings of the last population census (2,903,085 in 2001).

* The Welsh flag has two equal horizontal stripes, white above green, and a large red dragon passant.  The red dragon is probably of Roman origin.

 * Wales has two major emblems:

1. The Leek

The leek is known to have been displayed as a Welsh emblem in 1536 and in Henry V, Shakespeare acknowledged this as an ancient custom.

"On the evidence of Shakespeare (Henry V, VI 1), the leek was the recognised emblem of his day, and there is written evidence that it became the Welsh emblem considerably earlier. Entries in the household accounts of the Tudor Kings include payments for leeks worn by the household guards on St. David's Day. According to one legend, the leek is linked to St. David because he ordered his soldiers to wear them on their helmets when they fought a victorious battle against the pagan Saxons in a field full of leeks. It was more likely, however, that the leek was linked with St. David and adopted as a national symbol because of its importance to the national diet in days of old, particularly in Lent."

- The Welsh Tourist Board

Leek soup on St. David’s Day, anyone?

2. The Daffodil

The daffodil is another emblem of Wales. The reason is obscure because the daffodil does not have any distinctive literary or historical link to Wales. It does look attractive on a lapel on St. David’s Day.


In the year 2000, I had the pleasure of touring Wales. I rode a train on Snowdon Mountain and I visited Cardiff Castle. I also walked around the seaside town of Tenby. I remember having problems pronouncing many of the Welsh place names.


Palindrome Day

Tuesday is palindrome day on Number 16 and ten palindromes are presented for your enjoyment and edification. A palindrome is defined as a word, phrase, verse, sentence or number that reads the same backward or forward.

1. Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

2. Draw nine men inward.

3. Too bad - I hid a boot.

4. Ed is on no side.

5. Stella won no wallets.

6. Some men interpret nine memos.

7. Murder for a jar of red rum.

8. Go hang a salami. I’m a lasagna hog.

9. Rise to vote, sir.

10. Bombard a drab mob.



I’m glad that Grapefruit League baseball is underway. It’s only exhibition baseball, but the Toronto Blue Jays have lost their first 3 games. They were defeated twice by the Detroit Tigers and scored nary a run. Yesterday, they lost 6-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies and Roy Halladay. Doc pitched two shutout innings.

R.I.P. Duke Snider

Another one of the greats is gone. Edwin Donald “Duke” Snider died on Sunday (February 27, 2011) at the age of 84. The Hall of Famer and Brooklyn Dodgers legend was a contemporary of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. He was the last prominent survivor of the renowned “Boys of Summer” Brooklyn Dodgers’ teams of the 1950s.

Snider broke in with the Dodgers in 1947 and retired after the 1964 season with 407 career home runs. In 1980, he was voted into the baseball shrine at Cooperstown, New York. His health had been failing in recent years and he suffered from diabetes.