Sunday, February 19, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 6

Ostensibly this praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi and addressed Maredudd ap Dafydd Fychan of Llinwent is about hunting but I guess it is really about sovereignty and politics.

No 181 Praise of Maredudd ap Dafydd Fychan

No better land for fine, liberal gifts,
Than Maelienydd the land of honey.
Within it, in the flesh once,
Were wonders as numerous as molehills:
Here, so it is reported,
Was held the marriage feast of old Arthur;
The ancient citadel of Caer Ochren once stood
On the headlands of Rhos Maelienydd;
Eight times the Red Ford on the Ithon
Flowed red with the blood of battle.
Maelienydd disdains the speech
Of any Saxon and any jot of his works.

I’ve one love for three lands,
For three men, unto the youngest:
The Cornish say, ”Gracious Arthur will live
In every ward, the power of Richard;
”Maelienydd says, “Old Owain
Will be alive by his side.”

The best of a land its men and feasts,
For a hundred years, Maelienydd.
There is more ale in Maelienydd
Than in all the seven oceans;
Maelienydd will be my foster sister,
Maelienydd is my sustenance.
One man is loved here,
A tall man, like Garwy Hir
A prince born in Llinwent,
With the body of a lion,
like the Earl of Gwent.
Maredudd ap Dafydd Fychan, yours
Are all the main lines of descent:
A hawk of the falcons of Deheubarth,
As powerful as Gwilym of Y Garth,
A fledgling of the line of Elystan,
A sword from the tree of Llowdden.

Your custom after fresh mead,
Spiced deer meat and ordering the feast;
Is to mount like a salmon
Upon a stallion, as your father did,
With purpose, advance on the headwaters of the Wye
And the hill pastures of Clun;
Ever heedful of the terrain,
And a hound calling, wo-oo.
Expectant, was it a true sighting,
Caused by a young stag;
Call for greyhound and huntsman,
Aim them after the hind,
Set hunting dogs upon the roebuck,
Await a kill below the court;
Cause for me with every gift
Fresh venison, as befits me.

He commands me on a stallion from Gwent,
To and fro, back and forth, to Llinwent.
It wears me out, Maredudd,
I would not come even to feast at the house of Nudd.
He soon provokes me
With talk of the rights of tall Jasper;
He invites me with a gift of gold,
And there he’ll give me more gold,
Joshing me, he’ll give three chests,
Commanding me to take a stallion.

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