I have a neat little scrap of a house, A scrap of a house, a scrap of a house, I have a neat little scrap of a house, A windy door in the morning. Hey di ho, di hey di hey di ho A windy door in the morning.
A fraction open the door ajar, The door ajar, the door ajar, A fraction open the door ajar, You’ll see the rolling ocean. Hey di ho, di hey di hey di ho You’ll see the rolling ocean.
I went last night to my father’s house, My father’s house, my father’s house, I went last night to my father’s house To get for free my welcome. Hey di ho, di hey di hey di ho To get for free my welcome.
My mam she arose to give me some food. Dear flesh and blood, to give me some food, My mam she arose to give me some food, Dear flesh and blood, my own one. Hey di ho, di hey di hey di ho Dear flesh and blood, my own one.
My father arose, he stood on the floor, A stick he bore, he stood on the floor, My father arose, he stood on the floor, A great big stick he was holding. Hey di ho, di hey di hey di ho A great big stick he was holding.
When I’d been trounced in a scrap of a house, A scrap of a house, a scrap of a house, When I’d been trounced in a scrap of a house, A windy door in the morning. Hey di ho, do hey di hey di ho A windy door in the morning.
Traditional Welsh folk song Also often titled ‘Lazy Robin‘ or Tŷ Bach Twt (‘Tidy Little House’) translated by Tony Conran
Additonal information: Below, in Welsh, is a shorter version of the traditional folk song taught as a children’s nursery rhyme and performed at circle dances. As you can imagine there are numerous variations.
The version I learned, featured below, omits the stanzas involving the mother and father fighting and replaces them with a penultimate stanza which translates, roughly, as: “And here I’ll be happy my world / happy my world, happy my world, / And here I’ll be happy my world /With the wind blowing to the door each morning.”
Apparently, the version Tony Conran translated is from North Wales? If anyone wants to leave a comment or give the translation for the mother and father stanzas you are more than welcome as I only included the Welsh version I am familiar with.
Robin Ddiog a.k.a. Tŷ bach twt
Mae gen i dipyn o dŷ bach twt o dŷ bach twt, o dŷ bach twt Mae gen i dipyn o dŷ bach twt A’r gwynt i’r drws bob bore
Hey di ho di hey di hey di ho A’r gwynt i’r drws bob bore
Agorwch dipyn o gil y drws o gil y drws, o gil y drws Agorwch dipyn o gil y drws Cewch gweld y môr a’r tonnau.
Hey di ho di hey di hey di ho Cewch gweld y môr a’r tonnau.
Ac yma byddaf yn llon fy myd yn llon fy myd, yn llon fy myd Ac yma byddaf yn llon fy myd A’r gwynt i’r drws bob bore
Hey di ho di hey di hey di ho A’r gwynt i’r drws bob bore
Editor’s note: I don’t usually do these (well…officially… though I’ve often made comments in the ‘additional information’ sections of course) but I just wanted to wish anyone reading this on 25 December 2022 a Happy Christmas or as we say in Welsh Nadolig Llawen!
The website’s annual New Year update post will be a day early so I can keep to the Sunday upload schedule.
Men went to Catraeth. The luxury liner For three weeks feasted them. They remembered easy ovations, Our boys, splendid in courage. For three weeks the albatross roads, Passwords of dolphin and petrel, Practised their obedience Where the killer whales gathered, Where the monotonous seas yelped. Though they went to church with their standards Raw death has them garnished.
Men went to Catraeth. The Malvinas Of their destiny greeted them strangely. Instead of affection there was coldness, Splintered iron and the icy sea, Mud and the wind’s malevolent satire. They stood nonplussed in the bomb’s indictment.
Malcom Wigley of Connah’s Quay. Did his helm Ride high in the war-line? Did he drink enough mead for that journey? The desolated shores of Tegeingl, Did they pig this steel that destroyed him? The Dee runs silent beside empty foundries. The way of the wind and the rain is adamant.
Clifford Elley of Pontypridd. Doubtless he feasted He went to Catraeth with a bold heart. He was used to valleys. The shadow held him.
The staff and the fasces of tribunes betrayed him. With the oil of our virtue we have anointed His head, in the presence of foes.
Phillip Sweet of Cwmbach. Was he shy before girls? He exposed himself now to the hags, the glance Of the loose-fleshed whores, the deaths That congregate like gulls on garbage. His sword flashed in the wastes of nightmare.
Russell Carlisle of Rhuthun. Men of the North Mourn Rheged’s son in the castellated vale. His nodding charger neighed for the battle. Uplifted hooves pawed at the lightning. Now he lies down. Under the air he is dead. Men went to Catraeth. Of the forty-three Certainly Tony Jones of Carmarthen was brave. What did it matter, steel in the heart? Shrapnel is faithful now. His shroud is frost. With the dawn the men went. Those forty-three, Gentlemen all, from the streets and byways of Wales. Dragons of Aberdare, Denbigh and Neath – Figments of empire, whore’s honour, held them. Forty-three at Catraeth died for our dregs.
By Tony Conran
Additional information: It is the fortieth anniversary of the Falklands War at the time this poem is being posted.
The quote before the poem is from the Medieval Welsh poem Y Godoggin. The lines translate as: “Men went to Catraeth , keen was their company. / They were fed on fresh mead, and it proved poison.”
Tony Conran (7 April 1931 – 14 January 2013) was an Anglo-Welsh poet and translator of Welsh poetry. His own poetry was mostly written in English and Modernist in style but was very much influenced by Welsh poetic tradition, Welsh culture and history. To some extent there are parallels in Conran‘s writing with that of R. S. Thomas, but Conran can also be seen in the line of Pound, Bunting and MacDairmid.
Rheged sticks out amongst the above mentioned locations as it refers to one of the kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd (“Old North”), the Brittonic-speaking region of what is now Northern England and southern Scotland, during the post-Roman era and Early Middle Ages. It is recorded in several poetic and bardic sources, although its borders are not described in any of them. A recent archaeological discovery suggests that its stronghold was located in what is now Galloway in Scotland rather than, as was previously speculated, being in Cumbria. Rheged possibly extended into Lancashire and other parts of northern England. In some sources, Rheged is intimately associated with the king Urien Rheged and his family. Its inhabitants spoke Cumbric, a Brittonic dialect closely related to Old Welsh.
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