Beside the Grave of Abram Wood by Frances Roberts Reilly

Frances Roberts Reilly is of mixed heritage Welsh-Romany and English, a direct descendent of Abram Wood the Welsh Romany family of harpists, fiddlers and storytellers.

She began writing in 1972, while working at the BBC in London. After making documentaries on human rights, she earned an honours degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto. Frances is a full-time writer. Her poetry is published internationally and she has been a guest author on CBC radio and WSQR Talk Radio, Sarasota. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

She is currently working on her memoir ‘Underground Histories’, recovering her Romany heritage, hidden for over 100 years.


The photo of the harpist (bottom left) is of Frances’ great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann Roberts, playing the triple harp.

beside the grave of abram wood

king of the gypsies

Old Cymru’s harp plays the tune

and here in the quiet valley

I hear a song in the sound of the breeze.

Seven centuries came together

and memories are dripping from the leaves


Harp of the wind once more awake,

Cheers the mind when peace departs.

The poet’s pen recounts

what moves the tongues of seers.


Songs we’ve learned beneath the bushes,

Let our meeting and our parting.

Be like harpist’s hands in music’s embrace.

A stone and book shall tell the tale.


As Abram’s spirit touch’d her hand

Her harp was wet with tears –

The pagan wonders to our gypsy tribe –

Harp of the mountain,

do not be silent now?


Here’s where he’s laid, there so low

looks over at old Bardsey’s sleeping saints.

And we remember the charm of that string

that could turn a winter day into spring.

Echoes of him whose harp could move the dead.


frances Roberts reilly



Below, Llangelynin church where Abram Wood is buried.