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The Bendithion Chronicles, Page 15

"My time in Wales was binary and distinct. There was the university, which turned out to be, despite notable exceptions, a very English experience in Wales, and thus a mere backdrop to the tale I am telling in Bendithion.[1]

"…And then there was jewelled and fragrant Wales, where we danced and sang, spun and laughed, ate and tumbled in animaled fields and secret rooms and told each other tales deep into the night, beside our splendid hearths, blood warm and rising, with hand-hot tumblers of wine and dark-cherried cake. Well hidden were we then, from the English and everyone else by those sentries at the invisible threshold – those stonepeople, those carregwerin,[2] as I would call them ever after."[3]

We all belong to tribes. Some are of our own choosing, some we are born into, and some we create.  This is the story of the last stop on a pilgrimage, in a history of tribal migration – from the sugar plantations of Hawaii, to an early precocity in the cultural urbanity of San Francisco, within the canonical sophistication of a classical Jesuit education, into the heady freedom of convent life and out into the tight restrictive enclosure of English expatriate society in Canada, far back along the wild shores of Nova Scotia, right through the centre of Hollywood, into the living, breathing organism of Chassidism and out again. And deep into the heart of Wales.

I no longer belong to any of those tribes. I am what my friend calls a ‘floater’ and what my novice mistress once called a pilgrim. This I choose. No one has the whole truth. My tribes oppose one another and so I oppose them.

My mother taught me to read when I was three. That may have been a mistake, but it is one for which I thank her daily – for literature has led me to this fictional land.  I live here. This is my story.

 

~Excerpt from my PhD Dissertation

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[1] It is of course, a place in which I worked professionally, as a lecturer in the English Department, Writer in Residence and an executive in the Vice Chancellor’s Office (and with/in other departments on various academic projects and issues) during my years in Wales, as well as the source of a rich network of Welsh-speaking Welsh friends, largely from the Welsh-speaking support staff of the university. My initiation and immersion in the invisible Welsh world (and the one beneath that) took place almost entirely off-campus.

[2] Carreg means stone in Welsh. Gwerin has a long and complex history as a word. When it is translated as ‘folks’ or ‘countryfolk’ or ‘the common people’, as it often is, it implies a social class in English that does not exist in Wales. “Gwyn A. Williams in a recent work has put it precisely: “… they came to think of themselves as classless, a gwerin, to use the popular term. Everything outside them came to seem only half-Welsh. They were the real Welsh.” Prys Morgan, in ‘The Gwerin of Wales – Myth and Reality’ in The Welsh and Their Country, I. Hume & W.T.R. Pryce, eds. (Gomer Press, 1986 Llandysul), p. 136.

Mr Williams’ definition is closest to my experience, in which the word was used to evoke the highest degree of Welshness – the most honourable state that exists in Wales – keepers of the language and culture who actually live in the language and culture with little, if any, influence from the English (language, culture or people).

[3] Harrison Solow, unpublished manuscript, 2008.

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Interesting blog, Harrison.

Interesting blog, Harrison. Carraig means rock in Gaelic. Nowadays, one will often see tract housing estates with the word Carraig in the title, as in Carraig Mór i.e. big rock or Carraig Donn i.e. brown rock. Unfortunately, they lack the character of the true meaning of Carraig as the carraig in the bog, the lack of stone or rock, the weave of integrity. m

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Thank you, Mary.

"The weave of integrity..." -  you do put things so beautifully.  I know what you mean - and appreciate your curation of meaning. Thanks for the kind response. ~ H