Niclas y Glais, Thomas Evan Nicholas (1879-1971), showed how it is possible to be a both a socialist and a patriot, to stuggle for internationalism and your own country. Today Niclas y Glais is considered alongside Ireland and Scotland’s great leaders James Connolly and John Maclean.
He was a close comrade of Independent Labour Party leader Keir Hardie and edited the Welsh language page of the Merthyr Pioneer, before joining the Communist Party on its foundation in 1920. He debated passionately with Saunders Lewis the first Plaid Cymru leader, who held a far more conventional views.
His poems rage against capitalism, imperialism, monarchism and all kinds of kind of injustice and oppression.
‘Niclas y Glais’, to use his bardic name, was imprisoned by the pro-fascist Chief Constable of Cardiganshire near the beginning of the Second World War – but was released following a big all-party campaign.
His poems demonstrate not only his internationalism (he wrote about Russia, Spain, Cuba), but also his patriotism, and his love for the people of Pembrokeshire and the coal valleys of Glamorgan where he was born, worked as a brewer and a dentist, and preached Christianity and then Communism.
Cymdeithas Niclas (Nicolas Society) was launched at the National Eisteddod in August, in Ebbw Vale in 2009 to celebrate the life, ideas and work of this famous Communist poet.
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