The Project Gutenberg eBook of Welsh Poems and Ballads

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Welsh Poems and Ballads

Translator: George Borrow

Editor: Ernest Rhys

Release date: June 5, 2017 [eBook #54851]

Language: English


Transcribed from the 1915 Jarrold & Sons edition by David Price, email

Reproduced from Borrow’s original manuscript of “Glendower’s Mansion.”



Decorative graphic, Sans Peur et san Reproche





p. 4TO
Bibliophile, Bibliographer and
Good Borrovian
(at whose instance
this Norfolk Budget
of Welsh Verse
was brought






Glendower’s Mansion.  By Iolo Goch.  Borrow MSS.


Ode to the Comet.  By Iolo Goch.  Borrow MSS.


Ode to Glendower.  By Iolo Goch.  Borrow MSS


“Here’s the Life I’ve sighed for long.”  By Iolo Goch.  “Wild Wales”


The Prophecy of Taliesin.  “Targum”


The History of Taliesin.  “Targum”


The Mist.  By Dafydd ab Gwilym.  “Wild Wales”


The Cuckoo’s Song in Meiron.  By Lewis Morris o Fon.  Borrow MSS.


The Snow on Eira.  “Wild Wales”


The Invitation.  By Goronwy Owen.  “Targum”


The Pedigree of the Muse.  Goronwy Owen.  Borrow MSS.


The Harp.  Goronwy Owen.  Borrow MSS


Epigram on a Miser.  “Targum”


Griffith ap Nicholas.  By Gwilym ab Ieuan Hen.  “Wild Wales”


Riches and Poverty.  By Twm o’r Nant.  “Wild Wales”


The Perishing World.  By Elis Wynn.  “The Sleeping Bard”


Death the Great.  By Elis Wynn.  “The Sleeping Bard”


The Heavy Heart.  By Elis Wynn.  “The Sleeping Bard”


p. 6Ryce of Twyn.  By Dafydd Nanmor


Llywelyn.  By Dafydd Benfras.  “Quarterly Review”


Plynlimmon.  By Lewis Glyn Cothi.




Chester Ale.  By Sion Tudor



Englyn: Dinas Bran.  By Roger Cyffyn.  “Gone, gone are thy Gates”



Madoc’s Epitaph



Epitaph on Elizabeth Williams



The Last Journey.  By Huw Morus



The Four and Twenty Measures.  By Edward Price



Mona: By Robert Lleiaf



Mona: Englyn.  From “Y Greal”






Eryri.  From Goronwy Owen



Ellen.  From Goronwy Owen



Mon.  By Robin Ddu



Mon.  From Huw Goch



Lewis Morris of Mon.  By Goronwy Owen



The Grave of Beli



The Garden.  By Gwilym Du



The Satirist.  From Gruffydd Hiraethog



On Gruffydd Hiraethog.  By Wm. Lleyn



Llangollen Ale.  (George Borrow)


p. 7XX.

Tom Evans.  By Twm Tai



The Waterfall



Dafydd Gam.  Attributed to Owain Glendower



Llawdden.  By Lewis Meredith



Twm o’r Nant



Severn and Wye



Glamorgan.  By D. ab Gwilym



Dafydd ab Gwilym.  From Iolo Goch



The Yew Tree.  After Gruffydd Gryg



Hu Gadarn.  By Iolo Goch



Earth in Earth.  Epitaph



God’s Better than All



The Sun in Glamorgan.  By Dafydd ab Gwilym




The Age of Owen Glendower



The Spider



The Seven Drunkards


Sir Rhys ap Thomas.  Borrow MSS.


Hiraeth.  Borrow MSS.


Pwll Cheres: The Vortex of Menai.  Borrow MSS.


The Mountain Snow


Carolan’s Lament.  “Targum”


Epigrams by Carolan.  “Targum”


The Delights of Finn Mac Coul.  “Targum”


Icolmcill.  “Targum”


The Dying Bard.  “Targum”


The Song of Deirdra.  Borrow MSS.


The Wild Wine.  “Wild Wales”



In a collection of unedited odds and ends from Borrow’s papers bearing upon Wales, and dating from various periods of his career, there is one insignificant-looking sheet on whose back some lines are pencilled, beginning “The mountain snow.”  They are reproduced in the text, but deserve notice here because of the evidence they bring of Borrow’s long-continued Welsh obsession and his long practice as a Welsh translator.  Apparently they date from the time when he was writing “Lavengro,” since the other side of the leaf contains a draft in ink of the preface to that book.  Other sheets of blue foolscap in the same bundle—folded small for the pocket—are devoted to unnumbered chapters of “Wild Wales.”  Yet another scrap, from a much earlier period, is so closely packed in a microscopic hand that it reminds one at a first glance of the painfully minute script of the Brontë sisters in their earliest attempts.  p. 10Its matter is only a footnote on the Celts, Gaels and Cymry, and its substance often reappears in later pages; but other items both in the early script of a fine minuscule, and in the later bold, untidy scrawl, serve to carry on the Welsh account, with references to Pwll Cheres and Goronwy Owen; and the upshot of them all goes to show that Borrow, whether he was at Norwich or in London, was not only a stout Celtophile, but much inclined, early and late, to be a Welsh idolater.  And since the days when the monks of the Priory at Carmarthen wrote the “Black Book” in a noble script, I suppose no copyist ever took more pains than Borrow did in his early years in transcribing the lines of the Welsh poets, as the facsimile page given in this volume can tell.

Of the bards and rhymers that he attempted in English, he gave most care to translating Iolo Goch, four of whose odes open the present collection.  He was tempted to dilate on Iolo, or “Edward the Red,” because of that poet’s association with Owen Glendower, a hero in whose exploits he greatly delighted.  The tribute to Owen in “Wild Wales” is, or should be, familiar enough to Borrovians.  In p. 11Chapter XXIII. there is an account of the landmark which Borrow calls “Mont Glyndwr” (though I have never heard it so called in my Welsh wanderings); while in Chapter LXVI. a description of the other mount at Sycharth accompanies a translation of the Ode by Iolo, which in a slightly different earlier text is printed on page eight.  It was after repeating these lines, Borrow tells us, that he exclaimed, “How much more happy, innocent and holy” he was in the days of his boyhood, when he translated the ode, than “at the present time.”  And then, covering his face with his hands, he wept “like a child.”  If one re-reads the ode in the light of this confession, one observes that there is a strong vein of personal feeling about its lines, and a certain pilgrim strain in its opening, which would lend themselves readily to Borrow’s mood and the idea, never far away from his thoughts, that in his wanderings he too was a bard doing “Clera.”  It need hardly be said that he was wrong in estimating Iolo’s age as “upwards of a hundred years,” when the ode was written.  In other details of the poem he is more picturesque than literal; but the English copy of the Welsh sketch is in essentials near enough p. 12for all ordinary purposes; and the achievement in a boy of eighteen, living at Norwich, far from Wales, is an extraordinary one.  The sort of error that he fell into was a very natural one to occur; for instance, misled by his mere dictionary knowledge, he omits the reference to St. Patrick’s clock-tower and the cloisters of Westminster.  The words “Kloystr Wesmestr,” only lead in one text to the line, “A cloister of festivities,” and in the other to the yet freer rendering—“muster the merry pleasures all.”  Again, the original has no mention of “Usquebaugh,” though the Shrewsbury ale is in order.  In medieval Wales, I may add, the bragget mentioned in these lines was made by mixing ale with mead, and spicing the mixture—a decidedly heady liquor, one gathers, when it was kept awhile.

Iolo Goch, like the greater—indeed one may say the greatest Welsh poet, Dafydd ab Gwilym, used a form of verse in his odes which it is not easy to imitate or follow in English, keeping all its subtle graces and assonances.  It is termed the “Cywydd,” which may be taken to signify a verse in which the words are well knit and finely co-ordinated; or, as Sir John p. 13Rhys puts it, “elegantly, artistically put together.”  The verse, it should be said, is written in couplets, and the lines are required also to follow a definite symphonic pattern.  Try for example Dafydd’s lines, which Borrow has translated (see page 59), upon the mist.  In Welsh they run:

“Och! it ’niwlen felen-fawr
Na throet ti, na therit awr:
Casul yr awyr ddu-lwyd,
Carthen anniben iawn wyd,
Mwg ellylldan o annwn,
Abid teg ar y byd hwn.
Fal tarth uffern-barth ffwrn-bell;
Mwg y byd yn magu o bell.”

The second and last of these verses well show the use of what is called the “cynghanedd” or consonancy of echoing syllables required in the cywydd metre.  Borrow, in getting his own rhyme, rather loses the force of the original.  For instance, he omits the “awyr ddu-lwyd” in verse three—the air black-grey—and he spoils in expanding the idea of the verse—“carthen anniben,” etc.  Here the Welsh poet suggests that the mist is an endless cloth, p. 14woven perpetually in space.  The packed lines of the cywydd, and the concreteness of the imagery, set the translator, however, a hard task.  Borrow, in the “Wild Wales” version, omits the opening of the poem, whose last lines lead up to the apostrophe; but the MS. has enabled Mr. Wise to complete it in his Bibliography.  More literally, the Welsh might be rendered thus:—

“Before I had gone a step of the way,
I no longer saw a place in the land:
Neither birchclad cliff, nor coast;
Neither hill’s-breast, mountain-side, nor sea.”

Then it is he turns in his humorous rage:

“Och! confound thee, great yellow thing,
That neither turns lighter, nor clears a bit;
Black-grey chasuble of the air;
An endless woven clout, thou art!”

Borrow’s difficulty in attacking the Welsh of a poet so rapid and easy and light-footed, was that of a Zeppelin in pursuit of a Farman.  He was over-weighted from the start.  His early awkwardness in verse, his rhetoric learnt from the artificial style of the generation before him, were in his p. 15way.  Iolo Goch was much nearer to him, with the admiring inventory of a chieftain’s house, than was the art of the poet of the leaves, the birch-grove and the love-tryst.

But as time went on Borrow returned on his old steps, and he took up some of his former handiwork, and smoothed away some of its crudities.  Mr. Wise, indeed, maintains that the Borrow of 1826 was a much less finished verseman than the Borrow of 1854–60; and his Bibliography illustrates some of the changes made for the better in Borrow’s verse.  Thus, in one Norse ballad, he changes “gore” into “blood,” and we remark in many lines an attempt to get at a more natural style in verse.  The account of “The Sleeping Bard” in the Bibliography, shows that the improvement in Borrow’s craftsmanship went on after 1860, in which year the book was printed at Yarmouth (a very limited edition, 250 copies at 5s. a copy).  For instance, in the poem, “Death the Great,” the seventh stanza ran originally:

“The song and dance afford, I ween,
Relief from spleen, and sorrow’s grave;
How very strange there is no dance
Nor tune of France, from Death can save.”

p. 16In 1871 the four lines were recast as follows:—

“The song and dance can drive, they say,
The spleen away, and humour’s grave;
Why hast thou not devised, O France
Some tune and dance from Death to save?”

Here again, we see, he purges his poetic diction, and turns “I ween” into “they say.”  It is remarkable that in translating these lines by Elis Wynn he is not content to get the end-rhymes only, but accepts to the full the difficulty of following the Welsh in the interned rhymes throughout—as shown by the words italicised.

In his interesting account of “George Borrow and his Circle,” Mr. Shorter quotes a letter from Professor Cowell to a Norwich correspondent, Mr. James Hooper, which betrays some disappointment over Borrow’s Welsh interest at the close of his life.  Cowell had been inspired by “Wild Wales” to learn Welsh, and even nursed a wish to do so under Borrow himself.  He found his way to Oulton Hall one autumn day, and its master—now an old man close on eighty—opened the door in person.  The ardent visitor talked to him of Ab Gwilym, but his interest was languid; and even the news that the Honourable Cymmrodorion p. 17were about to publish the poems of Iolo Goch did not rouse him.  Cowell himself, it may be added, afterwards wrote an excellent appreciation of Ab Gwilym in the Transactions of the same society.  In his letter, Cowell speaks of Borrow’s carelessness as a translator, and declares the very title—“Visions of the Sleeping Bard”—to be wrong; it should be, not the “Sleeping Bard,” but the “Bard Sleep.”  However, in this case, Borrow’s instinct was truer than his critic’s.  For “Cwsg” is used as a noun-adjective by Elis Wynn; and the latest translator of the book—Mr. Gwyneddon Davies [17]—adopts the same title precisely.

Borrow’s record as a Welsh translator would not be complete without a page or so of his version of the prose text of the same work.  Elis Wynn, I may explain, was, after the tale-writers of the Mabinogion, the best author of Welsh narrative prose that the language possesses.  He was at once idiomatic and exact in style.  He knew how to get the golden epithet; his diction was bold and biblical, his vocabulary could be at times startling and Rabelaisean.  Borrow’s p. 18efficiency in rendering him may be tested by a couple of passages.  The first takes us to the City of Destruction and its streets:—

“‘What are those streets called,’ said I.  ‘Each is called,’ he replied, ‘by the name of the princess who governs it: the first is the street of Pride, the middle one the street of Pleasure, and the nearest, the street of Lucre.’  ‘Pray, tell me,’ said I, ‘who are dwelling in these streets?  What is the language which they speak?  What are the tenets which they hold?  To what nation do they belong?’  ‘Many,’ said he, ‘of every language, faith and nation under the sun are living in each of those vast streets below; and there are many in each of the three streets alternately, and everyone as near as possible to the gate; and they frequently remove, unable to tarry long in the one, from the great love they bear to the princess of some other street; and the old fox looks slyly on, permitting everyone to love his choice, or all three if he pleases, for then he is most sure of him.’

“‘Come nearer to them,’ said the angel, and hurried with me downwards, shrouded in his impenetrable veil, through much noxious vapour which was rising from the city; presently, we descended in the street p. 19of Pride, upon a spacious mansion open at the top, whose windows had been dashed out by dogs and crows, and whose owners had departed to England or France, to seek there for what they could have obtained much easier at home; thus, instead of the good, old, charitable, domestic family of yore, there were none at present but owls, crows, or chequered magpies, whose hooting, cawing, and chattering were excellent comments on the practices of the present owners.  There were in that street myriads of such abandoned palaces, which might have been, had it not been for Pride, the resorts of the best, as of yore, places of refuge for the weak, schools of peace and of every kind of goodness; and blessings to thousands of small houses around.”

This comes from the first of the Three Dreams, that of the World; and a further quotation from the same dream-book touches what is Borrow’s high-water mark as a translator:—

“Thereupon we turned our faces from the great city of Perdition, and went up to the other little city.  In going along, I could see at the upper end of the streets many turning half-way from the temptations of the gates of Perdition and seeking for the p. 20gate of Life; but whether it was that they failed to find it, or grew tired upon the way, I could not see that any went through, except one sorrowful faced man, who ran forward resolutely, while thousands on each side of him were calling him fool, some scoffing him, others threatening him, and his friends laying hold upon him, and entreating him not to take a step by which he would lose the whole world at once.  ‘I only lose,’ said he, ‘a very small portion of it, and if I should lose the whole, pray what loss is it?  For what is there in the world so desirable, unless a man should desire deceit, and violence, and misery, and wretchedness, giddiness and distraction?  Contentment and tranquillity,’ said he, ‘constitute the happiness of man; but in your city there are no such things to be found.  Because who is there here content with his station?  Higher, higher! is what everyone endeavours to be in the street of Pride.  Give, give us a little more, says everyone in the street of Lucre.  Sweet, sweet, pray give me some more of it, is the cry of everyone in the street of Pleasure.

“‘And as for tranquillity, where is it? and who obtains it?  If you be a great man, flattery and envy are killing you.  p. 21If you be poor, everyone is trampling upon and despising you.  After having become an inventor, if you exalt your head and seek for praise, you will be called a boaster and a coxcomb.  If you lead a godly life and resort to the Church and the altar, you will be called a hypocrite.  If you do not, then you are an infidel or a heretic.  If you be merry, you will be called a buffoon.  If you are silent, you will be called a morose wretch.  If you follow honesty, you are nothing but a simple fool.  If you go neat, you are proud; if not, a swine.  If you are smooth speaking, then you are false, or a trifler without meaning.  If you are rough, you are an arrogant, disagreeable devil.  Behold the world that you magnify!’ said he; ‘pray take my share of it.’”

In the foregoing extract Borrow makes a few obvious errors.  For instance, he turns the Welsh word “dyfeiswr” into “inventor,” whereas the sense here implies a schemer, or intriguer (the last is the rendering adopted by Mr. Gwyneddon Davies), and the translation suffers a corresponding lapse in the same clause.  But on the whole Borrow’s rendering is good of its kind, and it gains by its freedom at times, as in the page where he turns “dwylla p. 22o’th arian a’th hoedl hefyd,” into “chouses you of your money and your life.”

The fact is, Borrow was vital in prose, while the shackles of verse often weighed on him.  It was only in mid-career that he learnt to move at all easily in them—how much more easily we should not have known had not Mr. Wise, with his bibliographical intrepidity, set about printing for his own library some of the unpublished matter.  In the light of those green quartos, Borrow is seen to be a translator of more force than grace, who generally contrived to give a flavour of his own to whatever he touched.  Because of the subtleties of the prosody, he was rather less effective in dealing with Welsh and Celtic than with Norse and Gothic verse.  But he managed to create an English that was undoubtedly rare in his day, and is now unique because the Borrovian accent is in it, and the masculine voice of Borrow—like the cry of Vidrik in the ballad—is unmistakable.  He knew the art of giving a name to things; and, again like Vidrik, who called his sword “mimmering,” and his shield “skrepping,” this Cornish East Anglian, who dabbled in gipsy lore and learnt Welsh, made his weapons part of himself, whether p. 23they consisted of his pen, his portentous umbrella, or his father’s silver-handled blade:—

“Thou’st decked old chiefs of Cornwall’s land
   To face the fiend with thee they dared;
Thou prov’dst a Tirfing in their hand,
   Which victory gave whene’er ’twas bared.

“Though Cornwall’s moors ’twas ne’er my lot
   To view, in Eastern Anglia born,
Yet I her sons’ rude strength have got,
   And feel of death their fearless scorn.”

Little need be added about the various sources of the following text.  The first three poems are from a quarto MS. owned by Mr. Gurney of Norwich, who has kindly lent it to the publishers.  Its title runs:

With a Metrical English Translation.

Some former owner has pencilled below, “By Mr. Borrer of Norwich” (sic).  From Mr. Wise’s green quartos, already referred to, or from MSS. in his library, come the two Goronwy Owen poems, “The Pedigree of the Muse,” and “The Harp.”   Also Lewis Morris the Elder’s lines, “The Cuckoo’s Song in Meirion,” or Merion, according to Borrow.  The Epigrams by p. 24Carolan and “Song of Deirdra” are Irish items from the same source; while “Pwll Cheres, the Vortex of Menai,” and “The Mountain Snow,” are two Welsh ones, which have not, I believe, been printed in any other form.  The familiar pages of “Wild Wales,” and the less-known volume, “Targum,” account for the bulk of the remaining poems and fragments; while Borrow’s “Quarterly Review” article on Welsh Poetry (January, 1861) provides us with four more translations.  The versions are printed with all their faults on their head; and if he put a whiting into a fresh-water fish-pond (in the Ode on Sycharth, original text), or mistook a saint for a secular detail, the collector of his works will be glad to have the plain evidence under his hand, and will not wonder a bit the less at the boyish achievement of this East-country Celt.  It remains to be said that, being Borrow, he was duly astonished at himself, and under the Sycharth poem wrote in Welsh a footnote which runs in effect: “The English translation is the work of George Borrow, an English lad of the City of Norwich, who has never been in Wales, and has never in all his life heard a word of Welsh from man or woman.”


Iolo Goch was a celebrated Bard of North Wales, and flourished about the end of the fourteenth and commencement of the fifteenth century.  He was the contemporary of the celebrated Owain Glendower, and one of the most devoted and not the least effectual of his partisans; for by his songs he kindled the spirit of his countrymen against the English, and by his praises of Glendower increased their pre-existing enthusiasm for that chieftain.  The present poem was composed some years previous to the insurrection of Glendower against Henry the Fourth, and describes with the utmost possible minuteness his place of residence at Sycharth, to which place Iolo, after receiving frequent invitations from its owner, repaired to reside in his old age.

A PROMISE has been made by me
Twice of a journey unto thee;
His promises let every man
Perform, as far as e’er he can.
Easy is done the thing that’s sweet,
And sweet this journey is and meet;
I’ve vow’d to Owain’s court to go,
p. 28To keep that vow no harm will do;
And thither straight I’ll take the way,
A happy thought, and there I’ll stay,
Respect and honor whilst I live
With him united to receive.
My Chief of long-lin’d ancestry,
Can harbour sons of poesy.
To hear the sweet Muse singing bold
A fine thing is when one is old;
And to the Castle I will hie,
There’s none to match it ’neath the sky;
It is a Baron’s stately court,
Where bards for sumptuous fare resort.
The Lord and star of powis land,
He granteth every just demand.
Its likeness now I will draw out:
Water surrounds it in a moat;
Stately’s the palace with wide door,
Reach’d by a bridge the blue lake o’er;
It is of buildings coupled fair,
Coupled is every couple there;
A quadrate structure tall it is,
A cloister of festivities.
Conjointly are the angles bound;
In the whole place no flaw is found.
Structures in contact meet the eye
Grottoways, on the hill on high.
Into each other fasten’d, they
The form of a hard knot display.
p. 29There dwells the Chief, we all extoll,
In fair wood house on a light knoll.
Upon four wooden columns proud
Mounteth his mansion to the cloud.
Each column’s thick, and firmly bas’d,
And upon each a loft is plac’d.
In these four lofts, which coupled stand,
Repose at night the minstrel band:
These four lofts, nests of luxury
Partition’d, form eight prettily.
Tiled is the roof, on each house top
Chimneys, where smoke is bred, tower up.
Nine halls in form consimilar,
And wardrobes nine to each there are,
Wardrobes well stock’d with linen white
Equal to shops of London quite.
A church there is, a cross which has,
And chapels neatly paned with glass.
All houses are contained in this,
An orchard, vineyard ’tis of bliss.
Beside the Castle, ’bove all praise,
Within a park the red deer graze.
A coney park the Chief can boast,
Of ploughs and noble steeds a host;
Meads, where for hay the fresh grass grows,
Cornfields which hedges trim enclose;
Mill a perennial stream upon,
And pigeon tower fram’d of stone;
A fish pond deep and dark to see,
p. 30To cast nets in when need there be;
And in that pond there is no lack
Of noble whitings and of jack.
Three boards he keeps, his birds abound,
Peacocks and cranes are seen around.
All that his household-wants demand
Is order’d straight by his command:
Ale he imports from Shrewsbury far,
Glorious his beer and bragget are.
All drinks he keeps, bread white of look,
And in his kitchen toils his cook.
His castle is the minstrels’ home,
You’ll find them there whene’er you come.
Of all her sex his wife’s the best,
Her wine and mead make life thrice blest.
She’s scion of a knightly tree,
She’s dignified, she’s kind and free;
His bairns come to me pair by pair,
O what a nest of chieftains fair!
There difficult it is to catch
A sight of either bolt or latch;
The porter’s place there none will fill—
There handsels shall be given still,
And ne’er shall thirst and hunger rude
In Sycharth venture to intrude.
The noblest Welshman, lion for might,
The Lake possesses, his by right,
And ’midst of that fair water plac’d,
The Castle, by each pleasure grac’d.


Which appeared in the Month of March, A.D. 1402.


This piece appears to have been written at the period when Glendower had nearly attained the summit of his greatness; the insurrection which he commenced in September, 1400, by sacking and burning the town of Ruthin, having hitherto sustained no check whatever.  In the present poem his bard hails the appearance of the Comet as a divine prognostic of the eventual success of the Welsh Hero, and of his elevation to the throne of Britain.

Bout the stars’ nature and their hue
Much has been said, both false and true;
They’re wondrous through their countenance—
Signs to us in the blue expanse.
p. 34The first that came, to merit praise,
Was that great star of splendid rays,
From a fair country seen of old
High in the East, a mark of gold;
Conveying to the sons of Earth
News of the King of glory’s birth.
In the advantage I had share,
Though some to doubt the event will dare,
That Christ was born from Mary maid,
A merciful and timely aid,
With his veins’ blood to save on high
The righteous from the enemy.
The second, a right glorious lamp,
Of yore went over Uther’s camp.
There as it flam’d distinct in view
Merddin amongst the warrior crew
Standing, with tears of anguish, thought
Of the dire act on Emrys wrought, [34]
And he caus’d Uther back to turn,
The victory o’er the foe to earn;
From anger to revenge to spring
Is with the frank a common thing.
Arthur the generous, bold and good,
Was by that comet understood.
p. 35Man to be cherish’d well and long,
Foretold through ancient Bardic song:
With ashen shafted lance’s thrust
He shed his foe’s blood on the dust.
The third to Gwynedd’s hills was born
By time and tempest-fury worn,
Similar to the rest it came,
In origin and look the same,
Powerfully lustrous, yellow, red
Both, both as to its beam and head.
The wicked far about and near
Enquire of me, who feel no fear,
For where it comes there luck shall fall,
What means the hot and starry ball?
I know and can expound aright
The meaning of the thing of light:
To the son of the prophecy
Its ray doth steel or fire imply;
There has not been for long, long time
A fitting star to Gwynedd’s clime,
Except the star this year appearing,
Intelligence unto us bearing;
Gem to denote we’re reconcil’d
At length with God the undefil’d.
How beauteous is that present sheen,
Of the excessive heat the queen;
A fire upmounting ’fore our face,
Shining on us God’s bounteous grace;
For where they sank shall rise once more
p. 36The diadem and laws of yore.
’Tis high ’bove Mona in the skies,
In the angelic squadron’s eyes;
A golden pillar hangs it there,
A waxen column of the air.
We a fair gift shall gain ere long,
Either a pope or Sovereign strong;
A King, who wine and mead will give,
From Gwynedd’s land we shall receive;
The Lord shall cease incens’d to be,
And happy times cause Gwynedd see,
Fame to obtain by dint of sword,
Till be fulfill’d the olden word.

After His Disappearance.


Fortune having turned against Glendower, he fought many unsuccessful battles, in which all his sons perished, bravely maintaining the cause of their father.  His adherents being either slaughtered or dispirited, the Welsh Chieftain retired into concealment—but where, no mortal at the present day can assert with certainty, but it is believed that he died of grief and disappointment in the year 1415, at the house of his daughter, the wife of Sir John Scudamore, of Monington in Herefordshire.  The fall of Glendower was a bitter mortification to the Bards, whom he had so long feasted in the watery valley [39] from which he derived his surname; many poetical compositions are still preserved, written with the view of reviving the hopes of his dispirited friends.  Amongst these the following by Iolo p. 40Goch is perhaps the most remarkable.  He hints that the Chieftain has repaired to Rome, from which he will return with a warrant under the seal of the Pope, to take possession of his right.  Then he flings out a surmise that he has travelled to the Holy Sepulchre, and will re-appear, with a Danish and Irish fleet to back his cause.  Notwithstanding the little regard paid to truth and probability in this piece, and notwithstanding its strange metaphors and obscure allusions, it displays marks of no ordinary poetic talent, and is a convincing proof that the fire and genius of the author had not deserted him at fourscore, to which advanced age he had attained when he wrote it.

Tall man, whom Harry loves but ill,
Thou’st had reverses, breath’st thou still?
If so, with fire-spear seek the fray,
Come, and thy target broad display.
From land of Rome, which glory’s light
Environs, come in armour dight,
With writ, which bears the blest impression
Of Peter’s seal, to take possession.
Big Bull! from eastern climates speed,
Bursting each gate would thee impede.
p. 41Flash from thy face shall fiery rays,
On thee shall all with reverence gaze.
Fair Eagle! earl of trenchant brand!
Betake thee to the Lochlin land,
Whose sovereign on his buckler square,
Sign of success, is wont to bear
Three lions blue, through fire to see
Like azure, and steel-fetters three.
We’ll trust, far casting black despair,
Hence in the peacock, hog and bear!
For O the three shall soon unite,
A dread host in the hour of fight.
Launch forth seven ships, do not delay,
Launch forth seven hundred, tall and gay;
From the far north, at Mona’s pray’r,
To verdant Eirin’s shore repair.
To seek O’Neil must be thy task,
And at his hand assistance ask;
Ere feast of John we shall not fail
To hear a rising of the Gael:
Through the wild waste to Dublin town
Shall come a leader of renown.
Prepare a fleet with stout hearts mann’d
From Irishmen’s dear native land.
Come thou who did’st by treachery fall,
Where’er thou art my soul is all.
Yellow and red, before a feast,
The colours are, the Erse love best,
Deck with the same, their hearts to win,
p. 42The banner old of Llywellin.
Call Britain’s host (may woe betide
England for treachery!) to thy side;
Come to our land, tough steel, and o’er
The islands rule, an Emperor;
A fire ignite on shore of Mon
Staunch Eagle! ere an hour be flown.
The castles break, retreats of care,
Conquer of Caer Ludd’s dogs the lair!
Mona’s gold horn! the Normans smite,
Kill the mole and his men outright:
A prophecy there stands from old,
That numerous battles thou shalt hold;
Where’er thou’st opportunity
Fight the tame Lion furiously;
Fierce shall thy hands’ work prove, I trow,
Dying and dead shall Merwyg strow;
War shall my Chief through summer wage,
That the wheel turn, my life I’ll gage;
Like to the burst of Derri’s stream
The onset of his war shall seem.
With Mona’s flag through Iaithon’s glen
Shall march a host of armed men:
Nine fights he’ll wage and then have done,
Successful in them every one.
Come heir of Cadwallader blest,
And thy sire’s land from robbers wrest:
Take thou the portion that’s thine own,
Us from the chains ’neath which we groan.



Here’s the life I’ve sigh’d for long:
Abash’d is now the Saxon throng,
And Britons have a British lord
Whose emblem is the conquering sword;
There’s none I trow but knows him well
The hero of the watery dell.
Owain of bloody spear in field,
Owain his country’s strongest shield;
A sovereign bright in grandeur drest,
Whose frown affrights the bravest breast.
Let from the world upsoar on high
A voice of splendid prophecy!
All praise to him who forth doth stand
To ’venge his injured native land!
Of him, of him a lay I’ll frame
Shall bear through countless years his name:
In him are blended portents three,
Their glories blended sung shall be:
There’s Owain, meteor of the glen,
The head of princely generous men;
Owain, the lord of trenchant steel,
Who makes the hostile squadrons reel;
Owain besides, of warlike look,
A conqueror who no stay will brook;
p. 46Hail to the lion leader gay,
Marshaller of Griffith’s war array;
The scourger of the flattering race,
For them a dagger has his face;
Each traitor false he loves to smite,
A lion is he for deeds of might;
Soon may he tear, like lion grim,
All the Lloegrians limb from limb!
May God and Rome’s blest father high
Deck him in surest panoply!
Hail to the valiant carnager,
Worthy three diadems to bear!
Hail to the valley’s belted King!
Hail to the widely conquering,
The liberal, hospitable, kind,
Trusty and keen as steel refined!
Vigorous of form he nations bows,
Whilst from his breast-plate bounty flows.
Of Horsa’s seed on hill and plain
Four hundred thousand he has slain.
The cope-stone of our nation’s he,
In him our weal, our all we see;
Though calm he looks his plans when breeding,
Yet oaks he’d break his clans when leading.
Hail to this partisan of war,
This bursting meteor flaming far!
Where’er he wends Saint Peter guard him,
And may the Lord five lives award him!


From the Ancient British.

   Within my mind
   I hold books confin’d,
Of Europa’s land all the mighty lore;
   O God of heaven high!
   With how many a bitter sigh,
I my prophecy upon Troy’s line [49b] pour:

   A serpent coiling,
   And with fury boiling,
From Germany coming with arm’d wings spread,
   Shall Britain fair subdue
   From the Lochlin ocean blue,
To where Severn rolls in her spacious bed.

   And British men
   Shall be captives then
To strangers from Saxonia’s strand;
   From God they shall not swerve,
   They their language shall preserve,
But except wild Wales, they shall lose their land.


From The Ancient British.

Taliesin was a foundling, discovered in his infancy lying in a coracle, on a salmon-weir, in the domain of Elphin, a prince of North Wales, who became his patron.  During his life he arrogated to himself a supernatural descent and understanding, and for at least a thousand years after his death he was regarded by the descendants of the ancient Britons in the character of a prophet or something more.  The poems which he produced procured for him the title of “Bardic King;” they display much that is vigorous and original, but are disfigured by mysticism and extravagant metaphor; one of the most spirited of them is the following, which the author calls his “Hanes” or history.

p. 54The head Bard’s place I hold
To Elphin, chieftain bold;
The country of my birth
Was the Cherubs’ land of mirth;
I from the prophet John
The name of Merddin won;
And now the Monarchs all
Me Taliesin call.

I with my Lord and God
On the highest places trod,
When Lucifer down fell
With his army into hell.
I know each little star
Which twinkles near and far;
And I know the Milky Way
Where I tarried many a day.

My inspiration’s [54a] flame
From Cridwen’s cauldron came;
Nine months was I in gloom
In Sorceress Cridwen’s womb;
Though late a child—I’m now
The Bard of splendid brow; [54b]
When roar’d the deluge dark,
I with Noah trod the Ark.

p. 55By the sleeping man I stood
When the rib grew flesh and blood.
To Moses strength I gave
Through Jordan’s holy wave;
The thrilling tongue was I
To Enoch and Elie;
I hung the cross upon,
Where died the . . . (only son)

A chair of little rest
’Bove the Zodiac I prest,
Which doth ever, in a sphere,
Through three elements career;
I’ve sojourn’d in Gwynfryn,
In the halls of Cynfelyn;
To the King the harp I play’d,
Who Lochlyn’s sceptre sway’d.

With the Israelites of yore
I endur’d a hunger sore;
In Africa I stray’d
Ere was Rome’s foundation laid;
Now hither I have hied
With the race of Troy to bide;
In the firmament I’ve been
With Mary Magdalen.

I work’d as mason-lord
When Nimrod’s pile up-soar’d;
I mark’d the dread rebound
When its ruins struck the ground;
p. 56When stroke to victory on
The men of Macedon,
The bloody flag before
The heroic King I bore.

I saw the end with horror
Of Sodom and Gomorrah!
And with this very eye
Have seen the . . . (end of Troy;)
I till the judgment day
Upon the earth shall stray:
None knows for certainty
Whether fish or flesh I be.

p. 59THE MIST.

A tryste with Morfydd true I made,
’Twas not the first, in greenwood glade,
In hope to make her flee with me;
But useless all, as you will see.
I went betimes, lest she should grieve,
Then came a mist at close of eve;
Wide o’er the path by which I passed,
Its mantle dim and murk it cast.
That mist ascending met the sky,
Forcing the daylight from my eye.
I scarce had strayed a furlong’s space
When of all things I lost the trace.
Where was the grove and waving grain?
Where was the mountain, hill and main?
O ho! thou villain mist, O ho!
What plea hast thou to plague me so!
I scarcely know a scurril name,
But dearly thou deserv’st the same;
Thou exhalation from the deep
Unknown, where ugly spirits keep!
Thou smoke from hellish stews uphurl’d
To mock and mortify the world!
Thou spider-web of giant race,
Spun out and spread through airy space!
Avaunt, thou filthy, clammy thing,
Of sorry rain the source and spring!
p. 60Moist blanket dripping misery down,
Loathed alike by land and town!
Thou watery monster, wan to see,
Intruding ’twixt the sun and me,
To rob me of my blessed right,
To turn my day to dismal night.
Parent of thieves and patron best,
They brave pursuit within thy breast!
Mostly from thee its merciless snow
Grim January doth glean, I trow.
Pass off with speed, thou prowler pale,
Holding along o’er hill and dale,
Spilling a noxious spittle round,
Spoiling the fairies’ sporting ground!
Move off to hell, mysterious haze;
Wherein deceitful meteors blaze;
Thou wild of vapour, vast, o’ergrown,
Huge as the ocean of unknown.
Before me all afright and fear,
Above me darkness dense and drear.
My way at weary length I found
Into a swaggy willow ground,
Where staring in each nook there stood
Of wry-mouthed elves a wrathful brood.
Full oft I sunk in that false soil,
My legs were lamed with length of toil.
However hard the case may be,
No meetings more in mist for me.


From the Welsh of Lewis Morris.

Though it has been my fate to see
   Of gallant countries many a one;
Good ale, and those that drank it free,
   And wine in streams that seemed to run;
The best of beer, the best of cheer,
   Allotted are to Merion.

The swarthy ox will drag his chain,
   At man’s commandment that is done;
His furrow break through earth with pain,
   Up hill and hillock toiling on;
Yet with more skill draw hearts at will
   The maids of county Merion.

Merry the life, it must be owned,
   Upon the hills of Merion;
Though chill and drear the prospect round,
   Delight and joy are not unknown;
O who would e’er expect to hear
   ’Mid mountain bogs the cuckoo’s tone?

p. 64O who display a mien full fair,
   A wonder each to look upon?
And who in every household care
   Defy compare below the sun?
And who make mad each sprightly lad?
   The maids of county Merion.

O fair the salmon in the flood,
   That over golden sands doth run;
And fair the thrush in his abode,
   That spreads his wings in gladsome fun;
More beauteous look, if truth be spoke,
   The maids of county Merion.

Dear to the little birdies wild
   Their freedom in the forest lone;
Dear to the little sucking child
   The nurse’s breast it hangs upon;
Though long I wait, I ne’er can state
   How dear to me is Merion.

Sweet in the house the Telyn’s [64] strings
   In love and joy where kindred wone;
While each in turn a stanza sings,
   No sordid themes e’er touched upon;
Full sweet in sound the hearth around
   The maidens’ song of Merion.

p. 65And though my body here it be
   Travelling the countries up and down;
Tasting delights of land and sea,
   True pleasure seems my heart to shun;
Alas! there’s need home, home to speed—
   My soul it is in Merion.


Cold is the snow on Snowdon’s brow,
   It makes the air so chill;
For cold, I trow, there is no snow
   Like that of Snowdon’s hill.

A hill most chill is Snowdon’s hill,
   And wintry is his brow;
From Snowdon’s hill the breezes chill
   Can freeze the very snow.


By Goronwy Owen.

From the Cambrian British.

[Sent from Northolt, in the year 1745, to William Parry, Deputy Comptroller of the Mint.]

Parry, of all my friends the best,
Thou who thy Maker cherishest,
Thou who regard’st me so sincere,
And who to me art no less dear;
Kind friend, in London since thou art,
To love thee’s not my wisest part;
This separation’s hard to bear:
To love thee not far better were.

But wilt thou not from London town
Journey some day to Northolt down,
Song to obtain, O sweet reward,
And walk the garden of the Bard?—
But thy employ, the year throughout,
Is wandering the White Tower about,
Moulding and stamping coin with care,
The farthing small and shilling fair.
Let for a month thy Mint lie still,
Covetous be not, little Will;
p. 74Fly from the birth-place of the smoke,
Nor in that wicked city choke;
O come, though money’s charms be strong,
And if thou come I’ll give thee song,
A draught of water, hap what may,
Pure air to make thy spirits gay,
And welcome from an honest heart,
That’s free from every guileful art.
I’ll promise—fain thy face I’d see—
Yet something more, sweet friend, to thee:
The poet’s cwrw [74] thou shalt prove,
In talk with him the garden rove,
Where in each leaf thou shalt behold
The Almighty’s wonders manifold;
And every flower, in verity,
Shall unto thee show visibly,
In every fibre of its frame,
His deep design, who made the same.—
A thousand flowers stand here around,
With glorious brightness some are crown’d:
How beauteous art thou, lily fair!
With thee no silver can compare:
I’ll not forget thy dress outshone
The pomp of regal Solomon.

I write the friend, I love so well,
No sounding verse his heart to swell.
The fragile flowerets of the plain
Can rival human triumphs vain.
p. 75I liken to a floweret’s fate
The fleeting joys of mortal state;
The flower so glorious seen to-day
To-morrow dying fades away;
An end has soon the flowery clan,
And soon arrives the end of man;
The fairest floweret, ever known,
Would fade when cheerful summer’s flown;
Then hither haste, ere turns the wheel!
Old age doth on these flowers steal;
Though pass’d two-thirds of autumn-time,
Of summer temperature’s the clime;
The garden shows no sickliness,
The weather old age vanquishes,
The leaves are greenly glorious still—
But friend! grow old they must and will.

The rose, at edge of winter now,
Doth fade with all its summer glow;
Old are become the roses all,
Decline to age we also shall;
And with this prayer I’ll end my lay,
Amen, with me, O Parry say;
To us be rest from all annoy,
And a robust old age of joy;
May we, ere pangs of death we know,
Back to our native Mona go;
May pleasant days us there await,
United and inseparate!
p. 76And the dread hour, when God shall please
To bid our mutual journey cease,
May Christ, who reigns in heaven above,
Receive us to his breast of love!


From Goronwy Owen.

Old Homer, Grecian bard divine,
He Muses had, the tuneful Nine,
Of Goddesses a lovely quire,
Full like to Jove their heavenly Sire;
But their inventing song and strain
Is but a minstrel vision vain,
Nor in their birth, so proud and high,
I ween is more reality.

One Muse there was and one alone,
No fabled lustre round her shone,
With this fair girl the maiden band
Of Homer unconnected stand.

A different birth I claim for her,
Far older she than Jupiter;
The youths of heaven felt her power
In heavenly residence of yore;
And from her dwelling blest may she
To a vile man propitious be.
Grant to me, Lord, of her a share,
That I to sing her praise may dare.
Better thy help it were to gain
Than thousand, thousand tongues obtain.
p. 80I’ll tell ye where a strain was sung
Ere in its orb earth’s bullet swung,
Ere ocean had obtain’d its doors
Which hold confin’d its watery stores,
And of the world th’ Almighty made
The firm foundation yet was laid.

When at the word th’ Almighty said
The heaven above abroad was spread,
The morning stars in beauty bold,
Arose a concert high to hold.
Yes, yes, the beauteous morning train
Arose to sing a triumph strain.
When ended was the work sublime
They rose to sing a second time.
Thousands of heaven’s brightest powers
Assembled from their azure bowers.
The sons of heaven unitedly
Pour’d out a hymn of harmony.

Completed is thy work, O God;
Wise are the courses by Thee trod,
Master of all Eternity.
O who is great and wise like Thee?
No organ’s voice in sacred fane
E’er rivall’d that celestial strain;
A million accents all divine,
But different all, therein combine.
p. 81Of angel voices the accord
Downward pierc’d and upward soar’d.
The wandering stars who heard the strain
Into their orbits leapt again.
And louder, louder as it peal’d,
The arch of heaven shook and reel’d.
Down from the heaven’s lofty blue
To this low world the accents flew,
In Paradise’s blissful bound.
Our Father Adam heard the sound;
Delighted man’s first father hears
The praise and music of the spheres;
To imitate the strain he tries,
And soon succeeds in gallant guise.
Delighted was his Eva dear
His good and pleasant song to hear;
Eva sang, so fair of feature;
Adam sang, tall noble creature.
Both sang from their green retreat
To God until the hour of heat.
From five past noon descanted they
Till disappeared the orb of day.

Young Abel’s song was clear and mild,
And free from bursts of passion wild;
But fiercely harsh the ditty rang
Which Cain, red-handed ruffian, sang.
The gentle Muse you’ll never find
United to a cruel mind;
p. 82The Almighty God this gift bestows
On breasts alone where virtue glows.
A thing of ancient date is song,
A muse to Moses did belong;
A muse—a sample of its power
He gave when quitting Egypt’s shore.
A hundred sang, and with renown,
Ere we arrive at David down;
He sang like heaven’s minstrel prime,
And harmony compos’d sublime.
’Twas he who framed the blessed psalms,
To souls distrest those sovereign balms;
He also many a deathless air
Produc’d from harp and dulcimer;
Mov’d with his hand the Muse along,
That hand so fair and yet so strong.
Soon as the blush of morn appear’d,
The anointed poet’s voice was heard:
“Awake, my harp,” so sang the King,
“A sweet and fitting song to sing;
Glory I’ll give with tongue and chord,
Glory and praise to heaven’s Lord.”
His like ne’er was, and ne’er will be,
For music and for minstrelsy.

A Muse, and wondrous sweet its tone,
There was again to Solomon.
He sang in Judah’s brightest days
A wondrous song, the lay of lays.
p. 83His Rose of Sharon all must love,
The lily and the hawthorn grove.
To his effusion sweet belongs
A station next to David’s songs.
The offspring of a pious Muse
The Almighty God will not refuse,
Showing his loving kindness clear
To us his lowly children here.

In halls of heaven so bright and sheen
The power of song is great, I ween;
When there above in mighty quire
With us shall join heaven’s host entire,
The one high God to glorify,
Commingle then shall earth and sky.

O what a blest employ to raise
Our voices in our Maker’s praise!
Let’s learn, my friends, the fitting song,
To sing it we may hope ere long
Above in courts where angels be,
Above where all is harmony,
And ne’er shall cease our anthem then
Of Holy, Holy Praise.  Amen.

p. 87THE HARP.

From Goronwy Owen.

The harp to every one is dear
   Who hateth vice, and all things evil;
Hail to its gentle voice so clear,
   Its gentle voice affrights the Devil!

The Devil can not the Minstrel quell—
   He by the Minstrel is confounded;
From Saul was cast the spirit fell,
   When David’s harp melodious sounded.


On a Miser who had built a stately Mansion.

From the Cambrian British.

Of every pleasure is thy mansion void;
To ruin-heaps may soon its walls decline.
O heavens, that one poor fire’s but employ’d,
One poor fire only for thy chimneys nine!

Towering white chimneys—kitchen cold and drear—
Chimneys of vanity and empty show—
Chimneys unwarm’d, unsoil’d throughout the year—
Fain would I heatless chimneys overthrow.

Plague on huge chimneys, say I, huge and neat,
Which ne’er one spark of genial warmth announce;
Ignite some straw, thou dealer in deceit—
Straw of starv’d growth—and make a fire for once!

p. 92The wretch a palace built, whereon to gaze,
And sighing, shivering there around to stray;
To give a penny would the niggard craze,
And worse than bane he hates the minstrel’s lay.


By Gwilym ab Ieuan Hen.

Griffith ap Nicholas, who like thee
For wealth and power and majesty!
Which most abound, I cannot say,
On either side of Towy gay,
From hence to where it meets the brine,
Trees or stately towers of thine?
The chair of judgment thou didst gain,
But not to deal in judgments vain—
To thee upon thy judgment chair
From near and far do crowds repair;
But though betwixt the weak and strong
No questions rose of right and wrong,
The strong and weak to thee would hie;
The strong to do thee injury,
And to the weak thou wine wouldst deal
And wouldst trip up the mighty heel.
A lion unto the lofty thou,
A lamb unto the weak and low.
Much thou resemblest Nudd of yore,
Surpassing all who went before;
p. 96Like him thou’rt fam’d for bravery,
For noble birth and high degree.
Hail, captain of Kilgarran’s hold!
Lieutenant of Carmarthen old!
Hail chieftain, Cambria’s choicest boast!
Hail Justice, at the Saxon’s cost!
Seven castles high confess thy sway,
Seven palaces thy hands obey.
Against my chief, with envy fired,
Three dukes and judges two conspired,
But thou a dauntless front did’st show,
And to retreat they were not slow.
O, with what gratitude is heard
From mouth of thine the whispered word;
The deepest pools in rivers found
In summer are of softest sound;
The sage concealeth what he knows,
A deal of talk no wisdom shows;
The sage is silent as the grave,
Whilst of his lips the fool is slave;
Thy smile doth every joy impart,
Of faith a fountain is thy heart;
Thy hand is strong, thine eye is keen,
Thy head o’er every head is seen.


By Twm o’r Nant.

Enter Captain Poverty.

O RICHES,—thy figure is charming and bright,
And to speak in thy praise all the world doth delight,
But I’m a poor fellow all tatter’d and torn,
Whom all the world treateth with insult and scorn.


However mistaken the judgment may be
Of the world which is never from ignorance free,
The parts we must play, which to us are assign’d,
According as God has enlighten’d our mind.

Of elements four did our Master create,
The earth and all in it with skill the most great;
Need I the world’s four materials declare—
Are they not water, fire, earth, and air?

Too wise was the mighty Creator to frame
A world from one element, water or flame;
p. 100The one is full moist and the other full hot,
And a world made of either were useless, I wot.

And if it had all of mere earth been compos’d,
And no water nor fire been within it enclos’d,
It could ne’er have produc’d for a huge multitude
Of all kinds of living things suitable food.

And if God what was wanted had not fully known,
But created the world of these three things alone,
How would any creature the heaven beneath,
Without the blest air have been able to breathe?

Thus all things created, the God of all grace,
Of four prime materials, each good in its place.
The work of His hands, when completed, He view’d,
And saw and pronounc’d that ’twas seemly and good.


In the marvellous things, which to me thou hast told
The wisdom of God I most clearly behold,
p. 101And did He not also make man of the same
Materials He us’d when the world He did frame?


Creation is all, as the sages agree,
Of the elements four in man’s body that be;
Water’s the blood, and fire is the nature
Which prompts generation in every creature.

The earth is the flesh which with beauty is rife,
The air is the breath, without which is no life;
So man must be always accounted the same
As the substances four which exist in his frame.

And as in their creation distinction there’s none
’Twixt man and the world, so the Infinite One
Unto man a clear wisdom did bounteously give
The nature of everything to perceive.


But one thing to me passing strange doth appear:
Since the wisdom of man is so bright and so clear,
p. 102How comes there such jarring and warring to be
In the world betwixt Riches and Poverty?


That point we’ll discuss without passion or fear,
With the aim of instructing the listeners here;
And haply some few who instruction require
May profit derive like the bee from the briar.

Man as thou knowest, in his generation
Is a type of the world and of all the creation;
Difference there’s none in the manner of birth
’Twixt the lowliest hinds and the lords of the earth.

The world which the same thing as man we account
In one place is sea, in another is mount;
A part of it rock, and a part of it dale—
God’s wisdom has made every place to avail.

There exist precious treasures of every kind
Profoundly in earth’s quiet bosom enshrin’d;
There’s searching about them, and ever has been,
And by some they are found, and by some never seen.

p. 103With wonderful wisdom the Lord God on high
Has contriv’d the two lights which exist in the sky;
The sun’s hot as fire, and its ray bright as gold,
But the moon’s ever pale, and by nature is cold.

The sun, which resembles a huge world of fire,
Would burn up full quickly creation entire
Save the moon with its temp’rament cool did assuage
Of its brighter companion the fury and rage.

Now I beg you the sun and the moon to behold,
The one that’s so bright, and the other so cold,
And say if two things in creation there be
Better emblems of Riches and Poverty.


In manner most brief, yet convincing and clear,
You have told the whole truth to my wond’ring ear,
p. 104And I see that ’twas God, who in all things is fair,
Has assign’d us the forms, in this world which we bear.

In the sight of the world doth the wealthy man seem
Like the sun which doth warm everything with its beam;
Whilst the poor needy wight with his pitiable case
Resembles the moon which doth chill with its face.


You know that full oft, in their course as they run,
An eclipse cometh over the moon or the sun;
Certain hills of the earth with their summits of pride
The face of the one from the other do hide.

The sun doth uplift his magnificent head,
And illumines the moon, which were otherwise dead,
Even as Wealth from its station on high,
Giveth work and provision to Poverty.

p. 105Poverty.

I know, and the thought mighty sorrow instils,
The sins of the world are the terrible hills
An eclipse which do cause, or a dread obscuration,
To one or another in every vocation.


It is true that God gives unto each from his birth
Some task to perform whilst he wends upon earth,
But He gives correspondent wisdom and force
To the weight of the task, and the length of the course.



I hope there are some, who ’twixt me and the youth
Have heard this discourse, whose sole aim is the truth,
Will see and acknowledge, as homeward they plod,
Each thing is arrang’d by the wisdom of God.


[From “The Sleeping Bard,” by Elis Wynn.]

O MAN, upon this building gaze,
The mansion of the human race,
The world terrestrial see!
Its Architect’s the King on high,
Who ne’er was born and ne’er will die—
The blest Divinity.
The world, its wall, its starlights all,
Its stores, where’er they lie,
Its wondrous brute variety,
Its reptiles, fish, and birds that fly,
And cannot number’d be,
   The God above, to show His love,
Did give, O man, to thee.
For man, for man, whom He did plan,
God caus’d arise
This edifice,
Equal to heaven in all but size,
Beneath the sun so fair;
Then it He view’d, and that ’twas good
For man, He was aware.

Man only sought to know at first
Evil, and of the thing accursed
p. 110Obtain a sample small.
The sample grew a giantess,
’Tis easy from her size to guess
The whole her prey will fall.
Cellar and turret high,
Through hell’s dark treachery,
Now reeling, rocking, terribly,
In swooning pangs appear;
The orchards round, are only found
Vile sedge and weeds to bear;
The roof gives way, more, more each day,
The walls too, spite
Of all their might,
Have frightful cracks down all their height,
Which coming ruin show;
The dragons tell, that danger fell,
Now lurks the house below.
O man! this building fair and proud,
From its foundation to the cloud,
Is all in dangerous plight;
Beneath thee quakes and shakes the ground;
’Tis all, e’en down to hell’s profound,
A bog that scares the sight.
The sin man wrought, the deluge brought,
And without fail
A fiery gale,
Before which everything shall quail,
His deeds shall waken now;
Worse evermore, till all is o’er,
p. 111Thy case, O world, shall grow.
There’s one place free yet, man for thee,
Where mercies reign;
A place to which thou may’st attain.
Seek there a residence to gain
Lest thou in caverns howl;
For save thou there shalt quick repair,
Woe to thy wretched soul!

Towards yon building turn your face!
Too strong by far is yonder place
To lose the victory.
’Tis better than the reeling world;
For all the ills by hell up-hurl’d
It has a remedy.
Sublime it braves the wildest waves;
It is a refuge place
Impregnable to Belial’s race,
With stones, emitting vivid rays,
Above its stately porch;
Itself, and those therein, compose
The universal Church.
Though slaves of sin we long have been,
With faith sincere
We shall win pardon there;
Then in let’s press, O brethren dear,
And claim our dignity!
By doing so, we saints below
And saints on high shall be.


[From “The Sleeping Bard,” by Elis Wynn.]

Leave land and house we must some day,
   For human sway not long doth bide;
Leave pleasures and festivities,
   And pedigrees, our boast and pride.

Leave strength and loveliness of mien,
   Wit sharp and keen, experience dear;
Leave learning deep, and much-lov’d friends,
   And all that tends our life to cheer.

From Death then is there no relief?
   That ruthless thief and murderer fell,
Who to his shambles beareth down
   All, all we own, and us as well.

Ye monied men, ye who would fain
   Your wealth retain eternally,
How brave ’twould be a sum to raise,
   And the good grace of Death to buy!

p. 116How brave! ye who with beauty beam,
   On rank supreme who fix your mind,
Should ye your captivations muster,
   And with their lustre King Death blind.

O ye who are of foot most light,
   Who are in the height now of your spring,
Fly, fly, and ye will make us gape,
   If ye can scape Death’s cruel fling.

The song and dance afford, I ween,
   Relief from spleen and sorrow’s grave;
How very strange there is no dance,
   Nor tune of France, from Death can save!

Ye travellers of sea and land,
   Who know each strand below the sky;
Declare if ye have seen a place
   Where Adam’s race can Death defy!

Ye scholars, and ye lawyer crowds,
   Who are as gods reputed wise;
Can ye from all the lore ye know,
   ’Gainst death bestow some good advice?

The world, the flesh, and Devil, compose
   The direst foes of mortals poor;
But take good heed of Death the Great,
   From the Lost Gate, Destruction o’er.

p. 117’Tis not worth while of Death to prate,
   Of his Lost Gate and courts so wide;
But O reflect! it much imports,
   Of the two courts in which ye’re tried.

It here can little signify
   If the street high we cross, or low;
Each lofty thought doth rise, be sure,
   The soul to lure to deepest woe.

But by the wall that’s ne’er re-pass’d,
   To gripe thee fast when Death prepares,
Heed, heed thy steps, for thou may’st mourn
   The slightest turn for endless years.

When opes the door, and swiftly hence
   To its residence eternal flies
The soul, it matters much, which side
   Of the gulf wide its journey lies.

Deep penitence, amended life,
   A bosom rife of zeal and faith,
Can help to man alone impart,
   Against the smart and sting of Death.

These things to thee seem worthless now,
   But not so low will they appear
When thou art come, O thoughtless friend!
   Just to the end of thy career.

p. 118Thou’lt deem, when thou hast done with earth,
   These things of worth unspeakable,
Beside the gulf so black and drear,
   The gulf of Fear, ’twixt Heaven and Hell.


[From “The Sleeping Bard,” by Elis Wynn.]

Heavy’s the heart with wandering below,
And with seeing the things in the country of woe;
Seeing lost men and the fiendish race,
In their very horrible prison place;
Seeing that the end of the crooked track
      Is a flaming lake
      Where dragon and snake
      With rage are swelling.
I’d not, o’er a thousand worlds to reign,
      Behold again,
      Though safe from pain,
      The infernal dwelling.

Heavy’s my heart, whilst so vividly
The place is yet in my memory;
To see so many, to me well known,
Thither unwittingly sinking down.
To-day a hell-dog is yesterday’s man,
      And he has no plan,
      But others to trepan
      p. 122To Hell’s dismal revels.
When he reached the pit he a fiend became,
      In face and in frame,
      And in mind the same
      As the very devils.

Heavy’s the heart with viewing the bed,
Where sin has the meed it has merited;
What frightful taunts from forked tongue,
On gentle and simple there are flung!
The ghastliness of the damned things to state,
      Or the pains to relate
      Which will ne’er abate
      But increase for ever,
No power have I, nor others I wot:
      Words cannot be got;
      The shapes and the spot
      Can be pictured never.

Heavy’s the heart, as none will deny,
At losing one’s friend, or the maid of one’s eye;
At losing one’s freedom, one’s land or wealth;
At losing one’s fame, or alas! one’s health;
At losing leisure; at losing ease;
      At losing peace
      And all things that please
      The heaven under.
p. 123At losing memory, beauty and grace,
      For a little space
      Can cause no wonder.

Heavy’s the heart of man when first
He awakes from his worldly dream accursed;
Fain would he be freed from his awful load
Of sin, and be reconciled with his God;
When he feels for pleasures and luxuries
      Disgust arise,
      From the agonies
      Of the ferment unruly,
Through which he becomes regenerate,
      Of Christ the mate,
      From his sinful state
      Springing blithe and holy.

Heavy’s the heart of the best of mankind,
Upon the bed of death reclined;
In mind and body ill at ease,
Betwixt remorse and the disease,
Vext by sharp pangs and dreading more.
      O mortal poor!
      O dreadful hour!
      Horrors surround him!
To the end of the vain world he has won;
      And dark and dun
      The Eternal One
      Beholds beyond him.

p. 124Heavy’s the heart, the pressure below,
Of all the griefs I have mentioned now;
But were they together all met in a mass,
There’s one grief still would all surpass;
Hope frees from each woe, while we this side
      Of the wall abide—
      At every tide
      ’Tis an outlet cranny.
But there’s a grief beyond the bier;
      Hope will ne’er
      Its victims cheer,
      That cheers so many.

Heavy’s the heart therewith that’s fraught;
How heavy is mine at merely the thought!
Our worldly woes, however hard,
Are trifles when with that compared:
That woe—which is not known here—that woe
      The lost ones know,
      And undergo
      In the nether regions;
How wretched the man who, exil’d to Hell,
      In Hell must dwell,
      And curse and yell
      With the Hellish legions!

p. 125At nought, that may ever betide thee, fret
If at Hell thou art not arrived yet;
But thither, I rede thee, in mind repair
Full oft, and observantly wander there;
Musing intense, after reading me,
      Of the flaming sea,
      Will speedily thee
      Convert by appalling.
Frequent remembrance of the black deep
      Thy soul will keep,
      Thou erring sheep,
      From thither falling.


[“I’ll bet a guinea that however clever a fellow you may be, you never sang anything in praise of your landlord’s housekeeping equal to what Dafydd Nanmor sang in praise of that of Ryce of Twyn four hundred years ago.”]

For Ryce if hundred thousands plough’d,
The lands around his fair abode;
Did vines of thousand vineyards bleed,
Still corn and wine great Ryce would need;
If all the earth had bread’s sweet savour,
And water all had cyder’s flavour,
Three roaring feasts in Ryce’s hall
Would swallow earth and ocean all.


By Dafydd Benfras.

Llywelyn of the potent hand oft wrought
Trouble upon the kings and consternation;
When he with the Lloegrian monarch fought,
Whose cry was “Devastation!”
Forward impetuously his squadrons ran;
Great was the tumult ere the shout began;
Proud was the hero of his reeking glaive,
Proud of their numbers were his followers brave.
O then were heard resounding o’er the fields
The clash of faulchions and the crash of shields!
Many the wounds in yonder fight receiv’d!
Many the warriors of their lives bereaved!
The battle rages till our foes recoil
Behind the Dike which Offa built with toil,
Bloody their foreheads, gash’d with many a blow,
Blood streaming down their quaking knees below.
p. 134Llywelyn, we as our high chief obey,
To fair Porth Ysgewin extends his sway;
For regal virtues and for princely line
He towers above imperial Constantine.


By Lewis Glyn Cothi.

From high Plynlimmon’s shaggy side
Three streams in three directions glide,
To thousands at their mouth who tarry
Honey, gold and mead they carry.

Flow also from Plynlimmon high
Three streams of generosity; [137]
The first, a noble stream indeed,
Like rills of Mona runs with mead;

The second bears from vineyards thick
Wine to the feeble and the sick;
The third, till time shall be no more,
Mingled with gold shall silver pour.



Chester ale, Chester ale!  I could ne’er get it down,
   ’Tis made of ground-ivy, of dirt, and of bran,
’Tis as thick as a river below a huge town!
   ’Tis not lap for a dog, far less drink for a man.


Gone, gone are thy gates, Dinas Bran on the height!
   Thy warders are blood-crows and ravens, I trow;
Now no one will wend from the field of the fight
   To the fortress on high, save the raven and crow.

p. 142III.

Here, after sailing far, I, Madoc, lie,
Of Owain Gwynedd lawful progeny:
The verdant land had little charms for me;
From earliest youth I loved the dark-blue sea.
God in his head the Muse instill’d,
And from his head the world he fill’d.


Though thou art gone to dwelling cold,
   To lie in mould for many a year,
Thou shalt, at length, from earthy bed,
   Uplift thy head to blissful sphere.

V.  THE LAST JOURNEY.  From Huw Morus.

Now to my rest I hurry away,
To the world which lasts for ever and aye,
To Paradise, the beautiful place,
Trusting alone in the Lord of Grace.

p. 143VI.  THE FOUR AND TWENTY MEASURES.  From Edward Price.

I’ve read the master-pieces great
Of languages no less than eight,
But ne’er have found a woof of song
So strict as that of Cambria’s tongue.

VII.  MONA.  By Robert Lleiaf.

Av i dir Mon, er dwr Menai,
Tros y traeth, ond aros trai.

I will go to the land of Mona, notwithstanding the water of the Menai, across the sand, without waiting for the ebb.

VIII.  MONA.  From “Y Greal.”

I got up in Mona as soon as ’twas light,
   At nine in old Chester my breakfast I took;
In Ireland I dined, and in Mona, ere night,
   By the turf fire sat, in my own ingle nook.


Easy to say, “Behold Eryri!”
   But difficult to reach its head;
Easy for him whose hopes are cheery
   To bid the wretch be comforted.

p. 144X.  ERYRI.  From Goronwy Owen.

Ail i’r ar ael Eryri,
Cyfartal hoewal a hi.

The brow of Snowdon shall be levelled with the ground, and the eddying waters shall murmur round it.

XI.  ELLEN.  From Goronwy Owen.

Ellen, my darling,
Who liest in the churchyard of Walton.

XII.  MON.  From the Ode by Robin Ddu.

Bread of the wholesomest is found
   In my mother-land of Anglesey;
Friendly bounteous men abound
   In Penmynnydd of Anglesey. . . .

Twelve sober men the muses woo,
   Twelve sober men in Anglesey,
Dwelling at home, like patriots true,
   In reverence for Anglesey. . .

Though Arvon graduate bards can boast,
Yet more canst thou, O Anglesey.

XIII.  MON.  From Huw Goch.

Brodir, gnawd ynddi prydydd;
Heb ganu ni bu ni bydd.

p. 145A hospitable country, in which a poet is a thing of course.  It has never been and will never be without song.

XIV.  LEWIS MORRIS OF MON.  From Goronwy Owen.

“As long as Bardic lore shall last, science and learning be cherished, the language and blood of the Britons undefiled, song be heard on Parnassus, heaven and earth be in existence, foam be on the surge, and water in the river, the name of Lewis of Mon shall be held in grateful remembrance.”


Who lies ’neath the cairn on the headland hoar,
His hand yet holding his broad claymore,
Is it Beli, the son of Benlli Gawr?

XVI.  THE GARDEN.  From Gwilym Du o Eifion.

In a garden the first of our race was deceived;
In a garden the promise of grace he received;
p. 146In a garden was Jesus betray’d to His doom;
In a garden His body was laid in the tomb.

XVII.  THE SATIRIST.  From Gruffydd Hiraethog.

He who satire loves to sing,
On himself will satire bring.


In Eden’s grove from Adam’s mouth
Upsprang a muse of noble growth;
So from thy grave, O poet wise,
Cross Consonancy’s boughs shall rise.

XIX.  LLANGOLLEN ALE.  (George Borrow).

Llangollen’s brown ale is with malt and hop rife;
   ’Tis good; but don’t quaff it from evening till dawn;
For too much of that ale will incline you to strife;
   Too much of that ale has caused knives to be drawn.

p. 147XX.  TOM EVANS alias Twm o’r Nant.  By Twm Tai.

Tom Evan’s the lad for hunting up songs,
Tom Evan to whom the best learning belongs;
Betwixt his two pasteboards he verses has got,
Sufficient to fill the whole country, I wot.


Foaming and frothing from mountainous height,
   Roaring like thunder the Rhyadr falls;
Though its silvery splendour the eye may delight,
   Its fury the heart of the bravest appals.

XXII.  DAVID GAM.  Attributed to Owain Glyndower.

Shouldst thou a little red man descry
   Asking about his dwelling fair,
Tell him it under the bank doth lie,
   And its brow the mark of the coal doth bear.

p. 148XXIII.  LLAWDDEN.  From Lewis Meredith.

Whilst fair Machynlleth decks thy quiet plain,
Conjoined with it shall Lawdden’s name remain.


Tom O Nant is a nickname I’ve got,
My name’s Thomas Edwards, I wot.


O pleasantly do glide along the Severn and the Wye;
But Rheidol’s rough, and yet he’s held by all in honour high.

XXVI.  GLAMORGAN.  From Dafydd ab Gwilym.

If every strand oppression strong
Should arm against the son of song,
The weary wight would find, I ween,
A welcome in Glamorgan green.

p. 149XXVII.  DAFYDD AB GWILYM.  From Iolo Goch (?).

To Heaven’s high peace let him depart,
And with him go the minstrel art.

XXVIII.  TO THE YEW TREE on the Grave of Dafydd ab Gwilym at Ystrad Flur.  After Gruffydd Grug.

Thou noble tree; who shelt’rest kind
The dead man’s house from winter’s wind:
May lightnings never lay thee low,
Nor archer cut from thee his bow;
Nor Crispin peel thee pegs to frame,
But may thou ever bloom the same,
A noble tree the grave to guard
Of Cambria’s most illustrious bard!
O tree of yew, which here I spy,
By Ystrad Flur’s blest monast’ry,
Beneath thee lies, by cold Death bound,
The tongue for sweetness once renown’d.

* * *

Better for thee thy boughs to wave,
Though scath’d, above Ab Gwilym’s grave,
Than stand in pristine glory drest
Where some ignobler bard doth rest;
p. 150I’d rather hear a taunting rhyme
From one who’ll live through endless time,
Than hear my praises chanted loud
By poets of the vulgar crowd.

XXIX.  HU GADARN.  From Iolo Goch.

The Mighty Hu who lives for ever,
Of mead and wine to men the giver,
The emperor of land and sea,
And of all things that living be,
Did hold a plough with his good hand,
Soon as the Deluge left the land,
To show to men both strong and weak,
The haughty-hearted and the meek,
Of all the arts the heaven below
The noblest is to guide the plough.


Thou earth from earth reflect with anxious mind
That earth to earth must quickly be consigned,
And earth in earth must lie entranced, enthralled,
Till earth from earth to judgment shall be called.

By Vicar Pritchard of Llandovery.

God’s better than heaven or aught therein,
Than the earth or aught we there can win,
Better than the world or its wealth to me—
God’s better than all that is or can be.

Better than father, than mother, than nurse,
Better than riches, oft proving a curse,
Better than Martha or Mary even—
Better by far is the God of heaven.

If God for thy portion thou hast ta’en
There’s Christ to support thee in every pain,
The world to respect thee thou wilt gain,
To fear the fiend and all his train.

Of the best of portions thou choice didst make
When thou the high God to thyself didst take,
A portion which none from thy grasp can rend
Whilst the sun and the moon on their course shall wend.

p. 152When the sun grows dark and the moon turns red,
When the stars shall drop and millions dread,
When the earth shall vanish with its pomps in fire,
Thy portion still shall remain entire.

Then let not thy heart though distressed, complain!
A hold on thy portion firm maintain.
Thou didst choose the best portion, again I say—
Resign it not till thy dying day.

From Dafydd ab Gwilym.

Each morn, benign of countenance,
Upon Glamorgan’s pennon glance!
Each afternoon in beauty clear
Above my own dear bounds appear!
Bright outline of a blessed clime,
Again, though sunk, arise sublime—
Upon my errand, swift repair,
And unto green Glamorgan bear
Good days and terms of courtesy
From my dear country and from me!
Move round—but need I thee command?—
Its chalk-white halls, which cheerful stand—
Pleasant thy own pavilions too—
Its fields and orchards fair to view.

O, pleasant is thy task and high
In radiant warmth to roam the sky,
To keep from ill that kindly ground,
Its meads and farms, where mead is found,
A land whose commons live content,
Where each man’s lot is excellent.
p. 154Where hosts to hail thee shall upstand,
Where lads are bold and lasses bland;
A land I oft from hill that’s high
Have gazed upon with raptur’d eye;

Where maids are trained in virtue’s school,
Where duteous wives spin dainty wool;
A country with each gift supplied,
Confronting Cornwall’s cliffs of pride.



One thousand four hundred, no less and no more,
Was the date of the rising of Owen Glendower;
Till fifteen were added with courage ne’er cold
Liv’d Owen, though latterly Owen was old.

p. 158II.  THE SPIDER.

From out its womb it weaves with care
   Its web beneath the roof;
Its wintry web it spreadeth there—
   Wires of ice its woof.

And doth it weave against the wall
   Thin ropes of ice on high?
And must its little liver all
   The wondrous stuff supply?


O WHERE are there seven beneath the sky
Who with these seven for thirst can vie?
But the best for good ale these seven among
Are the jolly divine and the son of song.


“Great Rice of Wales.”

Y Brenin biau’r ynys,
Ond sy o ran i Syr Rys.

The King owns all the island wide
Except the part where Rice doth bide.

* * *

Y Brenin biau’r ynys;
A chyriau Frank, a chorf Rys.

The King owns all the island wide,
A part of France, and Rice beside.

Rhys Nanmor a’i Kant.

p. 167HIRAETH. [167]
A Short Elegy.

“ . . . An old bard, who wrote a short elegy on the death of the governor of — and his dame, and who says that he himself was fading with longing on their account.”

Borrow MS.

Longing for them doth fade my cheek;
He was a man, and she was meek;
A lion was he, she full of glee;
He handsome was, she fair to see.
A wondrous concord here was view’d;
He was wise, and she was good;
He liberal was, she kind of mood;
To heaven he went, she him pursued.


Pwll Cheres, the dread whirlpool of Menai,
Twisteth the waves, as if a knot should tie:
A hideous howling hollow, an abyss
Enough to scare the heart is Pwll Cheres.


The mountain snow: the stag doth fly,
The wind about the roofs doth sigh.
Love cannot in concealment lie.

The mountain snow: the grove is dark,
The raven black; the hound doth bark.
God keep you from all evil work.

The mountain snow: the crust is sound;
The wind doth twist the reeds around.
Where ignorance is, no grace is found.


From the Irish.

The arts of Greece, Rome, and of Eirin’s fair earth,
If at my sole command they this moment were all,
I’d give, though I’m fully aware of their worth,
Could they back from the dead my lost Mary recall.

I’m distrest every noon, now I sit down alone,
And at morn, now with me she arises no more:
With no woman alive after thee would I wive,
Could I flocks and herds gain, and of gold a bright store.

Awhile in green Eirin so pleasant I dwelt,
With her nobles I drank to whom music was dear;
Then left to myself, O how mournful I felt
At the close of my life, with no partner to cheer.

p. 180My sole joy and my comfort wast thou ’neath the sun,
Dark gloom, now I’m reft of thee, filleth my mind;
I shall know no more happiness now thou art gone,
O my Mary, of wit and of manners refin’d.


On Friars.

Would’st thou on good terms with friars live,
   Ever be humble and admiring;
All they ask of thee freely give,
   And in return be nought requiring.

On a Surly Butler,
who had refused him admission to the cellar.

O Dermod Flynn, it grieveth me
   Thou keepest not Hell’s portal;
As long as thou should’st porter be,
   Thou would’st admit no mortal.


From the Ancient Irish.

Finn Mac Coul ’mongst his joys did number
To hark to the boom of the dusky hills;
By the wild cascade to be lull’d to slumber,
Which Cuan Na Seilg with its roaring fills.
He lov’d the noise when storms were blowing,
And billows with billows fought furiously;
Of Magh Maom’s kine the ceaseless lowing,
And deep from the glen the calves’ feeble cry;
The noise of the chase from Slieve Crott pealing,
The hum from the bushes Slieve Cua below,
The voice of the gull o’er the breakers wheeling,
The vulture’s scream, over the sea flying slow;
p. 188The mariners’ song from the distant haven,
The strain from the hill of the pack so free,
From Cnuic Nan Gall the croak of the raven,
The voice from Slieve Mis of the streamlets three;
Young Oscar’s voice, to the chase proceeding,
The howl of the dogs, of the deer in quest.
But to recline where the cattle were feeding
That was the delight which pleas’d him best.


From the Gaelic of MacIntyre.

On Icolmcill may blessings pour!
It is the island blest of yore;
Mull’s sister-twin in the wild main,
Owning the sway of high Mac-Lean;
The sacred spot, whose fair renown
To many a distant land has flown,
And which receives in courteous way
All, all who thither chance to stray.

There in the grave are many a King
And duine-wassel [191] slumbering;
And bodies, once of giant strength,
Beneath the earth are stretch’d at length;
It is the fate of mortals all
To ashes fine and dust to fall;
I’ve hope in Christ, for sins who died,
He has their souls beatified.

Now full twelve hundred years, and more,
On dusky wing have flitted o’er,
Since that high morn when Columb grey
Its wall’s foundation-stone did lay;
p. 192Images still therein remain
And death-memorials carv’d with pain;
Of good hewn stone from top to base,
It shows to Time a dauntless face.

A man this day the pulpit fill’d,
Whose sermon brain and bosom thrill’d,
And all the listening crowd I heard
Praising the mouth which it proffer’d.
Since death has seiz’d on Columb Cill,
And Mull may not possess him still,
There’s joy throughout its heathery lands,
In Columb’s place that Dougal stands.


From the Gaelic.

O FOR to hear the hunter’s tread
With his spear and his dogs the hills among;
In my aged cheek youth flushes red
When the noise of the chase arises strong.

Awakes in my bones the marrow whene’er
I hark to the distant shout and bay;
When peals in my ear, “We’ve kill’d the deer”—
To the hill-tops boundeth my soul away;

I see the slug-hound tall and gaunt,
Which follow’d me, early and late, so true;
The hills, which it was my delight to haunt,
And the rocks, which rang to my loud halloo.

I see Scoir Eild by the side of the glen,
Where the cuckoo calleth so blithe in May,
And Gorval of pines, renown’d ’mongst men
For the elk and the roe which bound and play.

p. 196I see the cave, which receiv’d our feet
So kindly oft from the gloom of night,
Where the blazing tree with its genial heat
Within our bosoms awak’d delight.

On the flesh of the deer we fed our fill—
Our drink was the Treigh, our music its wave;
Though the ghost shriek’d shrill, and bellow’d the hill,
’Twas pleasant, I trow, in that lonely cave.

I see Benn Ard of form so fair,
Of a thousand hills the Monarch proud;
On his side the wild deer make their lair,
His head’s the eternal couch of the cloud.

But vision of joy, and art thou flown?
Return for a moment’s space, I pray,—
Thou dost not hear—ohone, ohone,—
Hills of my love, farewell for aye.

Farewell, ye youths, so bold and free,
And fare ye well, ye maids divine!
No more I can see ye—yours is the glee
Of the summer, the gloom of the winter mine.

p. 197At noon-tide carry me into the sun,
To the bank by the side of the wandering stream,
To rest the shamrock and daisy upon,
And then will return of my youth the dream.

Place ye by my side my harp and shell,
And the shield my fathers in battle bore;
Ye halls, where Oisin and Daoul [197] dwell,
Unclose—for at eve I shall be no more.


Farewell, grey Albyn, much loved land,
   I ne’er shall see thy hills again;
Upon those hills I oft would stand
   And view the chase sweep o’er the plain.

’Twas pleasant from their tops, I ween,
   To see the stag that bounding ran;
And all the rout of hunters keen,
   The sons of Usna in the van.

The chiefs of Albyn feasted high,
   Amidst them Usna’s children shone;
And Nasa kissed in secrecy
   The daughter fair of high Dundron.

To her a milk-white doe he sent,
   With little fawn that frisked and played,
And once to visit her he went,
   As home from Inverness he strayed.

The news was scarcely brought to me
   When jealous rage inflamed my mind;
I took my boat and rushed to sea,
   For death, for speedy death, inclined.

p. 202But swiftly swimming at my stern
   Came Ainlie bold and Ardan tall;
Those faithful striplings made me turn
   And brought me back to Nasa’s hall.

Then thrice he swore upon his arms,
   His burnished arms, the foeman’s bane,
That he would never wake alarms
   In this fond breast of mine again.

Dundron’s fair daughter also swore,
   And called to witness earth and sky,
That since his love for her was o’er
   A maiden she would live and die.

Ah, did she know that slain in fight,
   He wets with gore the Irish hill,
How great would be her moan this night,
   But greater far would mine be still.


From the Gaelic of MacIntyre.

The wild wine of nature,
Honey-like in its taste,
The genial, fair, thin element
Filtering through the sands,
Which is sweeter than cinnamon,
And is well-known to us hunters.
O, that eternal, healing draught,
Which comes from under the earth,
Which contains abundance of good
And costs no money!




[17]  “The Visions of the Sleeping Bard:” Being Ellis Wynne’s “Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg,” Translated by Robert Gwyneddon Davies.  Carnarvon (Welsh Publishing Co., Ltd.), 1909.

[34]  Emrys, King of Britain, lying sick at Canterbury, a Saxon of the name of Eppa disguised himself as a religious person, and pretending to be versed in medicine, obtained admission to the Monarch and administered to him a poisoned draught, of which he died.

[39]  Glyndwr signifies watery valley.

[49a]  Written in the fifth century.

[49b]  The British, like many other nations, whose early history is involved in obscurity, claim a Trojan descent.

[54a]  Awen, or poetic genius, which he is said to have imbibed in his childhood, whilst employed in watching the cauldron of the Sorceress Cridwen.

[54b]  I was but a child, but am now Taliesin,—Taliesin signifies: brow of brightness.

[64]  The harp.

[74]  Ale.

[137]  The “streams of generosity” were those of Dafydd ab Thomas Vychan.  (See “Wild Wales,” chap. lxxxviii.)—Ed.

[167]  “What is hiraeth?  Hiraeth is longing, the mourning, consuming feeling which one experiences for the loss of a beloved object.”—G.B.

[187]  The personage who figures in the splendid forgeries of MacPherson under the name of Fingal.

[191]  The Gaelic word for nobleman.

[197]  Ancient bards, to whose mansion, in the clouds, the speaker hopes that his spirit will be received.