Saturday, 22 October 2011

A walesi bárdok (The Bards Of Wales)

János Arany March 2, 1817—October 22, 1882)

Today October 22 id the  129 anniversary of the death of János Arany  the Hungarian journalist, writer, poet, and translator . Who is one of that country's  foremost literary figures.

This of course would not have led me to make a comment except for the fact that Arany was responsible for a link between Wales and Hungary that we do not really share with any other Nation.

In 187 Arany was asked to write a poem of praise for the visit of Franz Joseph I of Austria, as were other Hungarian poets. Arany instead wrote a poem about the tale of the 500 Welsh bards sent to the stake by Edward I of England in 1277,  Where he got this from I don't know but he used it  as a metaphor to criticise the tyrannic Habsburg rule over Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. 

The poem was not  published for  6 years. But  later in 1863, disguised as a translation of an Old English ballad, so as to conceal the real meaning from the Austrian censor.

The poem is considered to be a manifesto of the passive resistance which led to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. Arany wrote his own preface to the poem:

"The historians doubt it, but it strongly stands in the legend that Edward I of England sent 500 Welsh bards to the stake after his victory over the Welsh (1277) to prevent them from arousing the country and destroying English rule by telling of the glorious past of their nation."

It soon became and remains one of the major literary works in the Hungarian language.

In the 6th grade of elementary school, every Hungarian student is required to learn The Bards of Wales as it has an important role in both Hungarian history and literature.

So it seems that Hungarian Children may have more knowledge of Wales than any other country in Europe and Indeed even if you dispute the accuracy of the slaughter of the Bards they may more knowledge of the cconquest of Wales than our own 6th graders.

In September 2007 an English copy of this poem, translated by Peter Zollman, was donated to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. which you can read here.


  1. If you are sad, like me, the website of the Hungarian Parliament (a magnificent gothic confection) contains a reference to this..... seems a central part of Hungarian Culture.

  2. Stirring stuff!

    Puts it in a nutshell really.

    What a weak lily-livered lot we've been down the centuries. We've failed to stand up for ourselves - afraid of the consequences.

    I suppose we (and our forefathers) have to accept the responsibility for the state Wales is in today.

    Wake up, Wales!

    Fe godwn ni eto!

  3. Cubwr.

    Yes it shows that it is almost a National Poem.

  4. How ironic that the Hungarians may know a little more about Welsh history (even if the central event didn't happen) than do the people of Wales.

  5. I heard Hitler invaded Alaska. If you don't agree, you like Hitler.