Chapter 34


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Conclusion

The tiny country of Wales has proved itself. It is a country determined to survive as a cultural entity despite having been treated for so long as a mere bothersome adjunct to its powerful neighbor, who for hundreds of years has wished to ignore it, with its tricky, indecipherable language and customs (and even trickier, indecipherable people).

The author, born in Wales, was very rarely made aware of the glorious heritage of his people. At an English school in Chester, right on the border, Wales was regarded as a mysterious land to the west that could be conveniently ignored: its history was considered non-important; the history of Britain meant the history of England; British literature meant English literature.

Even in school in Wales, we were told of the poetry of Chaucer, but not of Dafydd ap Gwilym; that of Wordsworth, but not of Ceiriog; the accomplishments of Alfred the Great, but not those of Hywel Da; the military exploits of Edward the Black Prince, but not of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd or Llywelyn ap Iorwerth; the events of the Peterloo Massacre, but not those of the Newport Rising; the martyrdom of Wat Tylor, but not that of Dic Penderyn; the heroics of Hereward battling the Normans to preserve his Saxon heritage, but not of Owain Glyndwr, battling the armies of England to save his Welsh nation. We studied the joys of French literature, but not those of living Celtic; the history of the Union Jack, but never that of the Red Dragon; the Assize of Northampton, but not the Statute of Rhuddlan.

I hope that this brief and necessary condensed study of almost 13 centuries of struggle has demolished the idea that since the Acts of Union Wales has ceased to exist. Almost three hundred years ago, Rhys Jones, in his "Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru" (The Exploits of the Bards of Wales, 1773), wrote the following:
God has shown more love and favour to the Welsh than to almost any other nation under the sun.... Although we were conquered by the Romans, and driven by the Saxons from the lowlands of England to the Welsh highlands, and later conquered by the Normans; and although laws were passed specifically to delete our language totally from the face of the earth; yet the Most High has given us strength and resilience to withstand all the incursions of our enemies, however frequent they have been, and to retain our language and some of our possessions, also, despite them all; and let us hope that we shall remain so forever more.
From Hywel Da to Gwynfor Evans, the leaders of Wales have shown their adaptability and courage, their resilience and their courage, their grandiose dreams and their eloquent hopes. They have long shown that an independent Wales belongs in the councils of Europe. Its time has been long overdue. In the meantime, "In spite of all and everything," as Dafydd Iwan so searchingly reminds us in his patriotic song Yma O Hyd, "We are still here."
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