Lyra Celtica

      IV

EARLY CYMRIC AND MEDI∆VAL WELSH

    EARLY CYMRIC

                        The Soul. (67)
(From "The Black Book of Caermarthen.")

Soul, since I was made in necessity blameless
True it is, woe is me that thou shouldst have come to
            my design,
Neither for my own sake, nor for death, nor for end,
            nor for beginning.
It was with seven faculties that I was thus blessed,
With seven created beings I was placed for purification;
I was gleaming fire when I was caused to exist;
I was dust of the earth, and grief could not reach me;
I was a high wind, being less evil than good;
I was a mist on a mountain seeking supplies of stags;
I was blossoms of trees on the face of the earth.
If the Lord had blessed me, He would have placed me
            on matter.
                                                    Soul, since I was made--

LLYWARC'H HEN (68)

                        The Gorwynion.

The tops of the ash glisten, that are white and stately,
When growing on the top of the dingle:
The breast rackt with pain, longing is its complaint.

Brightly glitters the top of the cliff at the long midnight hour;
Every ingenious person will be honoured:
'Tis the duty of the fair, to afford sleep to him that is in pain.

Brightly glistens the willow tops; the fish are merry in the lakes,
Blustering is the wind over the tops of the small branches:
Nature over learning doth prevail.

Brightly glisten the tops of the furze; have confidence with the wise,
But from the unwise tear thyself afar;
Besides God there is none that sees futurity.

Brightly glisten the clover tops: the timid has no heart;
Wearied out are the jealous ones:
Cares attend the weak.

Brightly glisten the tops of reed-grass; furious is the jealous,
If any should perchance offend him:
'Tis the maxim of the prudent to love with sincerity.

Brightly glare the tops of the mountains from the blustering of winter,
Full are the stalks of reeds; heavy is oppression:
Against famine bashfulness will vanish.

Brightly glare the tops of mountains assail'd by winter cold;
Brittle are the reeds; the mead is incrusted over;
Playful is the heedless in banishment.

Bright are the tops of the oaks, bitter are the ash branches;
Before the duck, the dividing waves are seen:
Confident is deceit; care is deeply rooted in my heart.

Brightly glisten the tops of the oaks, bitter are the ash branches;
Sweet is the sheltering hedge; the wave is a noisy grinner;
The cheek cannot conceal the trouble of the heart.

Bright is the top of the eglantine; hardship dispenses with forms,
Let everyone keep his fire-side:
The greatest blemish is ill-manners.

Brightly glitters the top of the broom; may the lover have a home;
Very yellow seem the clustered branches;
Shallow is the ford; sleep visits the contented mind.

Brightly glitters the top of the apple-tree; the prosperous is circumspect.
In the long day the stagnant pool is warm;
Thick is the veil on the light of the blind prisoner.

Very glittering are the hazel-tops by the hill of Dig;
Every prudent one will be free from harm;
'Tis the act of the mighty to keep a treaty.

Glittering are the tops of the reeds; the fat are drowsy
And the young imbibe instruction;
None but the foolish will break faith.

Glittering is the top of the lily; let every bold one be a drinker;
The word of a tribe is superior;
'Tis usual for the unjust to break his word.

Bright are the tops of heath ; miscarriage attends the timid;
Boldly laves the water on its banks.
Tis the maxim of the just to keep his word.

The tops of the rushes glitter; the kine are gentle;
Running are my tears this day,
Social comfort from man there is not.

Glittering are the tops of fern, yellow is the wild marygold;
The sea is a fence for blind ones:
Swift and active are the young men.

Glittering are the tops of the service-tree; care attends the old;
The bees frequent the wilds;
Vengeance only to God belongs.

Brightly glitters the tops of the oak ; incessant is the tempest;
The bees are high in their flight, brittle is the charr'd brushwood,
The wanton is apt to laugh too frequently.

The hazel grove brightly glitters,even and uniform seem the brakes;
And with leaves the oaks envelop themselves;
Happy is he who sees the one he loves!

Glittering seems the top of the oak ; coolly purrs the stream;
I wish to obtain the top of the birchen grove;
Abruptly goes the arrow of the haughty to give pain.

Brightly glitters the top of the hard holly, that opens its golden leaves;
When all are asleep on the surrounding walls,
God slumbers not when He means to give deliverance.

Glittering are the tops of the willows, brittle and tender;
In the long day of summer the war-horse flags,
Those that have mutual friendships will not offend.

Glittering are the tops of rushes, the stems are full of prickles;
When drawn under the pillow;
The wanton mind will be haughty.

Bright is the top of the hawthorn; confident is the fight of the steed;
It behoves the dependent to be grateful;
May it be good what the speedy messenger brings.

Glittering are the tops of cresses; warlike is the steed;
Trees are fair ornaments of the ground;
Joyful is the soul with the one it loves.

Brightly glares the top of the bush, valuable is the steed;
Reason joined with strength is effectual;
Let the unskilful be void of strength.

Glittering are the tops of the brakes, birds are their fair jewels;
The long day is the gift of the radiant light,
Mercy was formed by God, the most beneficent.

Glittering are the elmwood tops, sweet the music of the grove;
Boisterous among the trees the wind doth whistle;
Interceding with the obdurate will not avail.

Glittering are the tops of elder-trees; bold is the solitary songster;
Accustomed is the violent to oppress;
By want of care the food in hand may be lost.

The Tercets of Llywarc'h.

Entangling is the snare, clustered is the ash;
The ducks are in the pond; white breaks the wave;
More powerful than a hundred is the counsel of the heart.

Long the night, boisterous is the sea-shore;
Usual a tumult in a congregation;
The vicious will not agree with the good.

Long the night, boisterous is the mountain,
The wind whistles over the tops of trees;
Ill-nature will not deceive the discreet.

The saplings of the green-topped birch
Will extricate my foot from the shackle;
Disclose not thy secret to a youth.

The saplings of oaks in the grove
Will extricate my foot from the chain;
Disclose no secret to a maid.

The saplings of the leafy oaks
Will extricate my foot from the prison;
Divulge no secret to a babbler.

The saplings of bramble have berries on them;
The thrush is on her nest;
The liar will never be silent.

Rain without, the fern is drenched;
White the gravel of the sea; there is spray on the margin;
Reason is the fairest lamp for man.

Rain without, near is the shelter,
The furze yellow; the cow-parsnip withered and dry;
God the Creator! why hast thou made me a coward?

Rain without, my hair is drenched;
Full of complaint is the feeble; steep the cliff;
Pale white is the sea; salt is the brine.

Rain without, the ocean is drenched;
The wind whistles over the tops of the reeds;
After every feat, still without the genius.

 

TALIESIN (73)

Song to the Wind.

Discover thou what is
The strong creature from before the flood,
Without flesh, without bone,
Without vein, without blood,
Without head, without feet;
It will neither be older nor younger
Than at the beginning;
For fear of a denial,
These are no rude wants
With creatures.
Great God! how the sea whitens
When first it comes!
Great are its gusts
When it comes from the south;
Great are its evaporations
When it strikes on coasts.
It is in the field, it is in the wood,
Without hand and without foot,
Without signs of old age,
Though it be co-eval
With the five ages or periods;
And older still,
Though they be numberless years.
It is also so wide;
As the surface of the earth
And it was not born,
Nor was it seen.
It will cause consternation
Wherever God willeth.
On sea, and on land,
It neither sees, nor is seen.
Its course is devious,
And will not come when desired
On land and on sea
It is indispensable.
It is without an equal,
It is four-sided;
It is not confined,
It is incomparable;
It comes from four quarters;
It will not be advised,
It will not be without advice.
It commences its journey
Above the marble rock.
It is sonorous, it is dumb,
It is mild,
It is strong, it is bold,
When it glances over the land.
It is silent, it is vocal,
It is clamorous,
It is the most noisy
On the face of the earth.
It is good, it is bad,
It is extremely injurious.
It is concealed,
Because sight cannot perceive it.
It is noxious, it is beneficial;
It is yonder, it is here
It will discompose,
But will not repair the injury;
It will not suffer for its doings,
Seeing it is blameless.
It is wet, it is dry,
It frequently comes,
Proceeding from the heat of the sun,
And the coldness of the moon.
The moon is less beneficial,
Inasmuch as her heat is less.
One Being has prepared it,
Out of all creatures,
By a tremendous blast,
To wreck vengeance
On Maelgwn Gwynedd.

ANEURIN (75)

Odes of the Months.

Month of January--smoky is the vale;
Weary the wine-bearer; strolling the minstrel;
Lean the cow; seldom the hum of the bee;
Empty the milking fold; void of meat the kiln;
Slender the horse; very silent the bird;
Long to the early dawn; short the afternoon;
Justly spoke Cynfelyn,
"Prudence is the best guide for man."

Month of February--scarce are the dainties;
Wakeful the adder to generate its poison;
Habitual is reproach from frequent acknowledgment;
The hired ox has not skill to complain
Three things produce dreadful evils,
A woman's counsel, murder, and way-laying;
Best is the dog upon a morning in spring;
Alas! to him who murders his maid!

Month of March--great is the forwardness of the birds,
Severe is the cold wind upon the headlands;
Serene weather will be longer than the crops;
Longer continues anger than grief;
Every one feels dread;
Every bird wings to its mate.
Every thing springs through the earth;
But the dead, strong is his prison!

Month of April--aerial is the horizon;
Fatigued the oxen; bare the land;
Common is the visitor without an invitation;
Poor the deer; blithesome the hare;
Everyone claims his labour;
Happy his state who governs himself;
Common is separation with virtuous children;
Common, after presumption, is a long cessation.

Month of May--wanton is the lascivious;
Sheltering the ditch to everyone who loves it;
Joyous the aged in his robes;
Loquacious the cuckoo in the rural vales;
Easy is society where there is affection ;
Covered with foliage are the woods, sportive the amorous,
There comes as often to the market,
The skin of the lamb as the skin of the sheep.

Month of June--beautiful are the fields;
Smooth the sea, pleasing the strand;
Beautifully long the day, playful the ladies;
Full the flocks, apt to be firm the bog;
God loves all tranquillity;
The devil loves all mischief;
Every one covets honour;
Every mighty one, feeble his end.

Month of July--the bay is apt to smoke;
Ardent the heat, dissolved the snow;
The vagrant does not love a long confederacy;
There is no success to the progeny of an unchaste person ;
Bare the farm-yard--partly empty the circular eminence;
Clean the perfect person, disgraceful the boasting word;
Justly spoke the foster-son of Mary,
"God judges, though man may prate."

Month of August--covered with foam is the beach;
Blithesome the bee, full the hive;
Better the work of the sickle than the bow;
Fuller the stack than the theatre.
He that will neither work nor pray,
Is not worthy to have bread;
Justly spoke Saint Breda,
"Evil will not be approached less than good."

Month of September--benign are the planets;
Tending to please, the sea and the hamlet;
Common is it for steeds and men to be fatigued;
Common is it to possess all kinds of fruit:--
A princely girl was born,
To be our leader from painful slavery;
Justly spake Saint Berned,
"God does not sleep when he gives deliverance."

Month of October--penetrable is the shelter;
Yellow the tops of the birch, solitary the summer dwelling;
Full of fat the birds and the fish;
Less and less the milk of the cow and the goat;
Alas! to him who merits disgrace by sin!
Death is better than frequent extravagance;
Three things follow every crime,
Fasting, prayer, and charity.

Month of November--very fat are the swine;
Let the shepherd go; let the minstrel come;
Bloody the blade, full the barn;
Pleased the sea, tasteless the caldron;
Long the night, active the prisoner;
Respected is every one who possesses property;
For three things men are not often concerned,
Sorrow, angry look, and an illiberal miser.

Month of December--the shoe is covered with dirt:
Heavy the land, flagging the sun;
Bare are the trees, still is the muscle;
Cheerful the cock, and determined the thief;
Whilst the twelve months proceed so sprightly,
Round the youthful mind, is the spoiler Satan;
Justly spoke Yscolan,
"God is better than an evil prophecy."

DAVYDD AP GWILYM (78)

            The Summer.

Thou Summer! father of delight,
With thy dense spray and thickets deep;
Gemm'd monarch, with thy rapt'rous light.
Rousing thy subject glens from sleep!
Proud has thy march of triumph been,
Thou prophet, prince of forest green!
Artificer of wood and tree,
Thou painter of unrivalled skill,
Who ever scatters gems like thee,
And gorgeous webs on park and hill?
Till vale and hill with radiant dyes
Become another Paradise!
And thou hast sprinkled leaves and flow'rs,
And goodly chains of leafy bow'rs;
And bid thy youthful warblers sing
On oak and knoll, the song of spring,
And black-birds' note of ecstacy
Burst loudly from the woodbine tree,
Till all the world is thronged with gladness--
Her multitudes have done with sadness!
O Summer! do I ask in vain?
Thus in thy glory wilt thou deign
My messenger to be?
Hence from the bowels of the land
Of wild, wild Gwyneth to the strand
Of fair Glamorgan--ocean's hand--
Sweet margin of the sea!
To dear Glamorgan, when we part,
Oh bear a thousand times my heart!
My blessing give a thousand times,
And crown with joy her glowing climes?
Take on her lovely vales thy stand,
And tread and trample round the land,
The beauteous shore whose harvest lies
All sheltered from inclement skies.
Radiant with corn and vineyards sweet,
The lakes of fish and mansions neat,
With halls of stone where kindness dwells,
And where each hospitable lord
Heaps for the stranger guest his board!
And where the generous wine cup swells;
With trees that bear a luscious pear,
So thickly clustering everywhere,
That the fair country of my love
Looks dense as one continuous grove!
Her lofty woods with warblers teem,
Her fields with flow'rs that love the stream;
Her valleys varied crops display,
Eight kinds of corn, and three of hay;
Bright parlour, with her trefoiled floor!
Sweet garden, spread on ocean's shore!
Glamorgan's bounteous knights award
Bright mead and burnished gold to me:
Glamorgan boasts of many a bard,
Well skilled in harp and vocal glee:
The districts round her border spread
From her have drawn their daily bread--
Her milk, her meat, her varied stores,
Have been the life of distant shores!
And court and hamlet food have found
From the rich soil of Britain's southern bound.
And wilt thou then obey my power,
Thou Summer, in thy brightest hour?
To her thy glorious hues unfold
In one rich embassy of gold!
Her morns with bliss and splendour light,
And fondly kiss her mansions white;
Fling wealth and verdure o'er her bow'rs!
And for her gather all thy flow'rs!
Glance o'er her castles, white with lime,
With genial glimmerings sublime;
Plant on the verdant coast thy feet,
Her lofty hills, her woodlands greet.
Oh! lavish blossoms with thy hand
O'er all the forests of the land;
And let thy gifts like floods descending,
O'er every hill and glen be blending;
Let orchard, garden, vine express
Thy fulness and thy fruitfulness--
O'er all the land of beauty fling
The costly traces of thy wing!
And thus 'mid all thy radiant flowers,
Thy thickening leaves and glossy bowers,
The poet's task shall be to glean
Roses and flowers that softly bloom
(The jewel of the forest's gloom!),
And trefoils wove in pavement green,
With sad humility to grace
His golden Ivor's resting-place.

        To the Lark.

        T'R Ehedydd.

Sentinel of the morning light!
Reveller of the spring!
How sweetly, nobly wild thy flight,
                    Thy boundless journeying:
Far from thy brethren of the woods, alone,
A hermit chorister before God's throne!

Oh! wilt thou climb yon heavens for me,
Yon rampart's starry height,
Thou interlude of melody
                    'Twixt darkness and the light,
And seek with heav'n's first dawn upon thy crest,
My lady love, the moonbeam of the west?

No woodland caroller art thou;
Far from the archer's eye,
Thy course is o'er the mountain's brow,
                    Thy music in the sky:
Then fearless float thy path of cloud along,
Thou earthly denizen of angel song.

RHYS GOCH (of ERYRI)   (82)

            To the Fox.

The wretch my starry bird who slew,
Beast of the flameless ember hue,
Assassin, glutton of the night,
Mixed of all creatures that defile,
Land lobster, fugitive of light,
Thou coward mountain crocodile;
With downcast eye and ragged tail,
That haunt'st the hollow rocks,
Thief, ever ready to assail
The undefended flocks,
Thy brass-hued breast and tattered locks
Shall not protect thee from the hound,
When with unbaffled eye he mocks
Thy mazy fortress underground,
Whilst o'er my peacock's shattered plumes shall shine
A pretty bower of faery eglantine.

RYHS GOCH  (83)

The Song of the Thrush.

I was on the margin of a plain,
Under a wide spreading tree,
Hearing the song
Of the wild birds;
Listening to the language
Of the thrush cock,
Who from the wood of the valley
Composed a verse--
From the wood of the steep,
He sang exquisitely.
Speckled was his breast
Amongst the green leaves,
As upon branches
Of a thousand blossoms
On the bank of a brook,
All heard
With the dawn the song,
Like a silver bell;
Performing a sacrifice,
Until the hour of forenoon;
Upon the green altar
Ministering Bardism.
From the branches of the hazel
Of green broad leaves
He sings an ode
To God the Creator;
With a carol of love
From the green glade,
To all in the hollow
Of the glen, who love him;
Balm of the heart
To those who love.
I had from his beak
The voice of inspiration,
A song of metres
That gratified me;
Glad was I made
By his minstrelsy.
Then respectfully
Uttered I an address
From the stream of the valley
To the bird.
I requested urgently
His undertaking a message
To the fair one
Where dwells my affection.
Gone is the bard of the leaves
From the small twigs
To the second Lunet,
The sun of the maidens!
To the streams of the plain
St Mary prosper him,
To bring to me,
Under the green woods
The hue of the snow of one night,
Without delay.

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