Romany Queen and Born by the Roadside - two poems by Dee Cooper

20 February 2023
Dee Cooper

The two poems by Dee Cooper celebrates two generations of Romany Gypsy women from her own family.

The first poem is called Romany Queen and is about her Great Granny Betsy Ward (pictured above and below).

The second poem is called Born by the Roadside and is about her Granny Daisy Cooper.

Betsy Ward
Betsy Ward

Romany Queen

Her hairs all rolled up in a bun 

 A pin holding it in place. 

She’s got the bluest eyes 

And a weather-beaten face.


Her arms they are like solid rock

As she gathers firewood 

Stacking logs as she goes 

To build a Kushti Yog 


She can chant like a songbird

 She can eat like a Grai

She’s as strong as an Ox 

and I’ve never seen her cry. 


When she holds ya, she squeezes tight 

Like she’s never letting go 

She brushes me long dark hair 

With a steady gentle flow. 


I get to call her ‘granny’

She smiles when I do 

She winks at me and as says 

my baby gal 

There’s nowt as sweet as you  


She, really do love me 

And she’s not as hard as what she seems 

But she puts on a brazen face 

So, the world as never seen 


One day she sat me down 

And told me, don’t let them 

See ya pain 

Smile in the sunshine 

Smile through the rain 


Hold your head up high my gal 

Be proud of who are 

Our ancestors have travelled roads 

And we have come this far 


Keep moving forward 

And you’ll find an acthin tan

Let them 

Romany roads lead you 

Round this precious land 


See that women there’s me granny 

There’s nothing she ain’t seen. 

She’s taught me all I need to know 

She’s a proper “Romany Queen” 

By Dee Cooper.G

Daisy Cooper
Daisy Cooper

Born by the Roadside


Born by the roadside by dim candlelight, I came into this world on a June summer's night. 


Swaddle and cuddled, Gypsy born with such pride, a culture, a heritage that I will not hide.


I travelled the land from Surrey to Kent; I stopped in a wagon or an old bender tent. 


Days spent in hops fields and working the land, the picking of fruit for cash in the hand. 


 Nights round the yog filled with stories of old, with warmth in our hearts, we could never be cold. 


We shared what we had; we got by day by day, there were so many days, we got turned away. 


We stood proud of our culture, our way of life, days were not without trouble and strife. 


We stuck close together and stood our ground, us Gypsies we are, and this is our common ground. 


They tried to take the ground from neath us, but they couldn’t take the sky, and I will wander all the land until the day I die. 


By Dee Cooper.G



Line drawing of an older Romany Gypsy lady
All photographs Dee Cooper, Drawing by @Dolly_Romany_Arts