There was no war in the bells' world; there was no dispute among men to prevent the dawn of Christmas. There was no discord among those who listened to the anthem of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Had they been listening, the bells of Parma would have been pealing in the ears of Hitler and Mussolini and Churchill and Roosevelt and Stalin, just as they rang out for me. For a few minutes I felt the situation to be too much for me. I couldn't understand how it was that the years had so injected poison into the veins of mankind as to allow the sound of gunfire to mingle with the ringing of bells. My leaping mind turned to my home in Wales, and I failed to understand what complexity of life it was that bade the bells of Parma ring so gleefully while the tongues of the bells at Llandrillo-yn-Rhos had been tied and were mute.
I gave up thinking about it, puny and helpless in my clean white bed. Soon afterwards I heard strange, new, different notes, as if at last they had succeeded in bringing the merriment to order. Some pretty carillon was sending messages over the city and they fell on my ears from the open window above my bed:
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Perhaps this was Experience. If so, I had to make the most of it, for it wasn't likely ever to recur. The tender hands of the Sorella and her pride in her city, and Christmas morning, and the bells — they would never come together again. I could never hold on to them, to savour them again and again whenever the desire arose. For they were things that belonged to the moment, to one place. Flowers of one night.
Mesur Byr (Gwasg Gomer, 1977)
Often have I listened to panel members on a radio programme or in some cultural society having to answer the question, 'Who has been