Sosban Fach

The Poxy Boggards and Sosban Fach

More Music from the World Famous Poxy Boggards

This is a Welsh nonsense song detailing trouble in the household. Yet it has an interesting history.From 1908 to 1914 Britain was in the grip of the “Great Unrest” as it became known. Industrial unrest gripped the island and Wales, with its steel and coal was at the forefront of these troubles. In the summer of 1911 a national railway strike almost paralyzed the country. Troops were called in to keep the trains running but in many cases this only escalated the situation.

Thursday, August 17th 1911, at a railway crossing in the town of Llanelli, a train was held up by protesters. The next day troops came to clear the line. Things got out of hand and two men were killed, Leonard Worsell and John John. Somewhere in the riot that caused the death of these two men, someone started singing “Sosban Fach” there was trouble in the household after all.Here are the words with my translation;

Mae bys Mari-Ann wedi brifo, A Dafydd y gwas ddim yn iach. Mae'r baban yn y crud yn crio, A'r gath wedi sgrapo Joni bach.

Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân, Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr, A'r gath wedi sgrapo Joni bach.

Dai bach y sowldiwr, Dai bach y sowldiwr Dai bach y sowldiwr, A chwt ei grys e mas.

Mae bys Mari-Ann wedi gwella, A Dafydd y gwas yn ei fedd; Mae'r baban yn y crud wedi tyfu, A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.

Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.

Dai bach y sowldiwr, Dai bach y sowldiwr, Dai bach y sowldiwr, A chwt ei grys e mas

English;

Mary-Ann has hurt her finger, And David the servant is un-well. The baby in the crib is crying, And the cat has scratched little Johnny.

A little saucepan is boiling on the fire, A big saucepan is boiling on the floor, And the cat has scratched little Johnny.

Little Dai the soldier, Little Dai the soldier, Little Dai the soldier, And his shirt tail is hanging out.

Mary-Ann's finger has got better, And David the servant is in his grave; The baby in the cradle has grown up, And the cat sleeps in peace.

A little saucepan is boiling on the fire, A big saucepan is boiling on the floor, And the cat sleeps in peace.

Little Dave the soldier, Little Dave the soldier, Little Dave the soldier And his shirt tail is hanging out

One subtle little point here. The chorus of “Dai bach y Sowldiwr” was added after the riot and refers to the soldiers being surprised by the rioters and not having time to dress properly. Hence the “Shirt tail hanging out” In Welsh the word for “Tail” is Cwt. In the chorus we usually sing it as “Chwt” this lenition of the first consonant renders it feminine. A subtle insult to the soldiers.

From that time on the song became associated with Llanelli. It was, and is, the theme song of the Scarletts the regional rugby team, and Llanelli Rugby Club. Heard in the pubs and on the sports fields it has become Llanelli’s battle cry.

The rugby goalposts of the Scarletts are topped by red saucepans and the official magazine of the Scarletts is titled “Sosban”

In the 70’s the Welsh folk singer and all round entertainer, Max Boyce used Sosban Fach as his theme song. He added the “Uggie” shout to the song. It caught on and now it is almost impossible to hear Sosban Fach without the Uggie shout at the end.

A personal note;

Living in Southern California these days I met and became friends with members of a Rennaissance singing group, the World famous Poxy Boggards. One of the members is Matt Cadwaladr. I taught him Sosban Fach and the group put their own unique style to the song. Now it is an often requested and popular item at their gigs.

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Comments 18 comments

Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

lol - as a rugby fan, I remember this one well. A Welsh crowd in full song is very intimidating.

New Zealand can keep their Haka - the Welsh also know the power of calling on their ancestors! :)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 7 years ago from Sunny California Author

It's good to meet a fellow Rugby fan. I was at the game where llanelli beat the All Blacks 9-3. I remember the incredible scene throughout the town. Everyone was singing Sosban fach and even the police directing traffic were getting a little tipsy.

great memories.


David Williams 6 years ago

That was beautiful boyo!

(David - born and bred a Welshman)


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello David;

Thanks for stopping by. Since moving to California I've learned to speak Spanish. So--Gracias boyo!


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 6 years ago from South Wales

Well done Ianto. Reminds me of the heart- wrenching and tear jerking song that Max sang entitled, 9 - 3


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

ScaryTaff; I was there that day. Every pub in a 5 mile radius of Stradey was drunk dry. Good times.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

What ho Boyo, you're making me homesick!


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Hello Gypsy; A girl from the Capital!

Thank you for reading my Hubs. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. They do help with the Hiraeth.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Its interesting how the language and music are not similar at all to Irish or Scots Gaelic- my impression is the song has a very Germanic/Austrian influence.

I could read and understand the Scottish language(not when they speak it though!)-but I wouldn't have a clue with Welsh.

Great hub-I love the music.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

Celtic languages are divided into two stocks; Gaelic is spoken in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Brythonic, is spoken in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany (North West France)

That is the reason the song sounds different. You won't find much to compare with Germanic languages though. Welsh goes way back, the earliest poetry in Welsh dates from the 6th century. English is a Germanic language.

Thank you for your interest. The old language and the pre-christian religion of my ancestors is of special interest to me which is why I write about it so much.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

It's actually more the beat of the music I thought was quite Germanic/Austrian-it has that folksy air about it.

Keep writing -I find the info fascinating.


nomoretrucks profile image

nomoretrucks 6 years ago from scotland

Cool ianto-sorry! -Oeri! you taught That guy sosban fach. I reckon you should get royalties. Da iawn! ive looked at this hub ages ago but i missed that fact. Splendigedig!


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Nomoretrucks; Diolch yn fawr. yes I taught it to matt and helped the rest of the group with the pronounciation. It still is a great favorite at their gigs and I find it really cool to watch a crowd of Americans shout "Uggie Uggie Uggie"

Ydy mae'n splendigedig iawn.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

I enjoyed this hub. Da iawn ti ianto a dal ati.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Diolch Eiddwen. Y peth pwysicaf i mi yw fod nhw sy'n ddarllen yn fwynhau.

Pob Bendith.........Ianto


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I’m so glad I found your hub. I grew up in Wales, and still remember happily singing “Sosban Fach” as a child on many occasions, with no idea what it meant or its significance, even though we were taught Welsh at school. Diolch yn fawr.


iantoPF profile image

iantoPF 6 years ago from Sunny California Author

Shw mae Alicia; Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub. I've written a number of Hubs about Wales, it helps with the "Hiraeth" California is a long way from the mountains and valleys of home.

Best Wishes..........ianto


Redraven01 profile image

Redraven01 4 years ago

29 Oct 12

Hi Ian,

I came across Sosban Fach when I heard Only Boys Aloud perform the song. It is a most energetic and inspiring song which teenage boys globally should strive to emulate.

Well done.

Christopher

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