Anna Lewis

Asquith, John

The Bards of Wales

In the colourful weft of European literature, the traditions of two utterly dissimilar countries, Wales and Hungary, are woven together.

The most famous ballad in the Hungarian language, learnt by heart by all school students at age 14, is János Arany's "A Walesi Bárdok" ("The Bards of Wales"). The long poem calls for national resistance at a time when Hungarian independence had been crushed, and to avoid censorship this message is disguised in a description of the conquest of Wales by Edward I of England, and the slaughter of 500 bards of Wales for refusing to sing the King's praises at a banquet in Montgomery Castle.

John’s part in the project was to rehearse choirs and soloists for performances, to give dramatic readings of the poem and to give lectures to raise awareness both of the poem itself and also of Wales and Hungary in each other's countries.

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