A Familiar Voice

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A Familiar Voice
written by William Henry Davies
Nature Poems (1908) Link to further information




Ah, what fond memories that voice doth bring!
Even to strangers sweet: no others sing
Their common speech, like men of Cambria's race;
How much more sweet to me then was that voice!
It filled me with sweet memories; as when
I heard one hum the March of Harlech Men,
Dying, five thousand miles from home! Now we
Lived in a city dark, where Poverty,
More hard than rocks, and crueller than foam,
Keeps many a great Ulysses far from home,
With neither kings nor gods to help him forth.
Tell me, sweet voice, what part of that dear earth
Thou callest thine? I asked, to please my whim:
His answer could not cool my pride in him.
For Wales is Wales; one patriotic flame
From North to South, from East to West the same;
There is no difference in our Cymric breed
Of Highlander and Lowlander; no creed
Can enter there to make their hearts divide;
Nay, Wales is Wales throughout, and of one pride.
So, in that city, by stone walls confined,
We of our native land spake with one mind.
We could breathe in vast spaces there: the eye
Could lead proud Fancy in captivity
Mile after mile adown the valleys long,
The kindest hearts in all the world among.
One woman's tears could moisten all the land,
As in that very hour was known: band upon band
Of Cymry swarming from their collieries
To search the hills, in hours of sleep and ease,
For one lost child; a woman's grief could claim
The fiery hearts that tyrants ne'er could tame.
The noblest hearts on earth are in those hills,
For they make national their local ills;
Theirs are the hearts of oak, in truth they are,
So soft in peace, yet knotted hard in war;
Of such an oak as, smoothed down by Pain,
Shows flowers of Pity deep in its clear grain.
We did compare this City dame with neat
And simple Jenny Jones, with her charms sweet
As are shy berries under shady leaves,
Hiding from light to sweeten of themselves;
This City dame, with plumes and satin trail -
An empty craft that carries finer sail
Than one whose hull is full of pearls and gold;
For, save in song, our Jenny is not bold.
And so we talked till, with an oath, we swore
We would return and never wander more.

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