Of Dante and Chile and Idris Davies……and Rhodri’s Uncle..

Thanks to Siwsan, of this parish, for sending me this:
In Chile, love moves the sun and the stars. Read it all but here’s a great bit:
“The first miner, Florencio Avalos, appears–like a newborn. His kid and wife are there. He hugs them. He looks fine. After 68 days under the Earth, his eyes, with sunglasses though, are the first to look up at the stars.

And we feel, with old Dante, that on this night in Chile, love moves the sun and all the other stars.
Sometimes, after all, life is as it should be.” (Love that last sentence).

Our First Minister has written to Chile’s President,  Dr Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique, as Betsan reports:

“Dr Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique
President of the Republic of Chile
Palacio de La Moneda

Dear President Piñera

I write to congratulate you and the people of Chile on the remarkable rescue of Los 33 at the San José copper-gold mine near Copiapó.

As a nation with a history of mining dating back to the Bronze Age, the people of Wales have followed the events of the last ten weeks with great admiration and solidarity.

We have memories of many mining disasters where sadly the outcome proved very different. The names of these tragedies – Senghennydd, Gresford, Cilfynydd and many, many more – are part of our national consciousness. Those experiences mean we feel a deep sympathy with mining communities worldwide.

We have admired the courage of those trapped and shared the emotions of their families. It has been a joy for us to witness the skill and determination of the rescuers and to join the celebrations of your people.

One of our country’s poets, Idris Davies, once wrote of how the bells of Wales echoed the feelings of our people:

“O what will you give me?

Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Is there hope for the future?

Cry the brown bells of Merthyr”

As the terrible events of the 5th August unfolded to the world, the bells recovered from the Cathedral of Santiago disaster in 1863 were travelling between Wales and Chile.

Just as the words of our poet provide a link with events of the past, today, they reflect the spirit of your miners and the resolve of all involved in their rescue.

You have shown how hope can triumph over adversity – and on behalf of the people of
Wales, we offer you our best wishes and congratulations.

Yours truly


Well said Carwyn.

Update – Rhodri Morgan from today’s Western Mail:

“…Everyone in Wales will feel a special sense of solidarity with the 33 of them because most of us have an uncle of father or grandfather who worked underground and some will recall the two worst disasters in British mining history, both in Wales, Senghenydd before the First World War and Gresford before the second.

That consciousness of what might happen if there was a roof fall or an explosion is what makes miners so special. You can’t work underground with someone who would let you down if the worst happened.

My father’s older brother Gwyn was a coal-miner until the dust got to him.

He was a man of few words, certainly far fewer than my professor father.

But he had a withering way of summing up his fellow human beings, especially those who didn’t pull their weight or who had ideas about their own importance and status in life.

I remember my father giving him a lift to the Globe, his favourite pub in Glais in the Swansea Valley.

As we drove the few hundred yards to the pub, we passed a few men in Dai caps and mufflers doing nothing in particular, chatting by the roadside. Gwyn would always speak to me in Welsh but would sometimes turn to English for extra emphasis.

Pointing to one of the men in caps and mufflers, he said: “That’s Watty Jenkins there. Wonderful side-step but never over fond of work.””

Welsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…