Notes, types and motifs

Notes for the story 'Burying the Sailor from a Faraway Land'

This is one of the many stories told by the tailor, John Griffiths, of Waun Gilwern, Pen-boyr parish, at Treale, Thomas Davies' home: 'I remember John Griffiths on his feet telling that story'. He looked heavenwards while reciting the verse, and his voice 'had a touch of the clergyman' about it. For more on John Griffiths, the tailor, and a description of Thomas Davies' home at Treale, see the item 'The Will of the Farmer and His Three Counsels to His Son'.

More than half a dozen versions with a degree of similarity to this story have been recorded from speakers (see tapes at MWL), especially in south-west Wales. The last three lines of the stanza (cante fable) which closes the story are almost the same in each version. The first line of the stanza refers to the stranger washed to shore: 'Dyn du wyt ti o wlad bell...' [ 'You are a black man from a faraway land...']; 'Dyn diarth wyt ti...' ['You are a stranger...' ] etc. The second couplet of the stanza also exists independently of the story and is found as an epitaph.


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