Thursday, 15 May 2014

Tony Conran (7/4/31 -14/7/13) - Becca At The Gate

On the 175th anniversary this week of the Rebecca Riots thought I'd post this poem written by the late great Tony Conran, for the late Paul Davies, founder of the Becca group of artists, that was named after 19th Century Rebecca Riots against tollgates that were seen as symbols of oppression.A movement that sweeped my local  countryside, a popular uprising of the oppressed peasantry. By night the countryside seemed qiet, but at night fantastically disguised horsemen careered  along highways and through narrow lanes on their  rebellious quests ,an inspiring uprising that is still remembered as one of the most famous and striking protest movements in modern Welsh history.That still strikes the imagination in our hearts,minds and deeds.

Rebecca Riots remembered:-

Becca At The Gate

You saw them shouting at Efailwen,
Preseli men round Mynachlog Ddu,
Swains of Llangolmen and Maenchlochog,
Farmhands, greybacks at Llandysilio -

You saw the wrath of Twm Carnabwth
The house-in-a-night man, who put stones
Round a hearth, a roof and a chimney
And a good fire alight by the morning

Gunfire and horsehooves in the darkness
And you saw Rebecca at the gate-
Red petticoats over ploughman's boots,
Bonnets and shawls, tall hats of women.

You were at the hosting at St Clears
Blackfaced on  steeds round about Pwll Trap.
You saw the old bent Becca hobbling
Up to the gate, stooped on a thorn stick.

You saw the stick feel in front of her.
"Daughters, there's something put up here
Across the road, I cannot go on."
Hundreds shouted, "Mother, what is it?"

Nothing should bar your path, old Mother-
Not a great gate, nor bolted custom ,
Nor opportunities taken away,
The theft that is wealth, or dumb respect.

You were with wassailers by moonlight
On familiar ground, under the stars.
Her cry rang out " Children, off with it,
Break  the gate down, it's no business here."

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