Saturday, July 01, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 18

This request poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi is no doubt addressed to the Men of Elfael. This seems to have been some sort of assembly or council, perhaps similar to the type of government found in some Swiss cantons - a body comprised of all the free men of the cantref. The cross of Tyfaelog can still be seen in Llowes Church.

No 143, To Request a stallion from the Men of Elfael

Blessed God, ‘til my last day,
To the generous land that chases a stag.
Once, long ago, I was young and cheerful,
That was then, today I’m old,
And with age comes bad temper,
I’m an unwelcome pedestrian.

Although I’ve had the gold of the fair lands of Elfael,
Now I desire something more.
I desire a stallion,
One with a coat as black as charcoal.
From the manor to the van, I’m not interested
In some wild-tempered bay,
A slim lion is what I desire,
A strong giant or a rounded stag,
As fair as that great stallion, his sire,
As tame towards me as a sheep.
Today it’s easy work to find him
In the pound of the two Elfaels;
And then like swan feathers,
A smooth saddle to cover the horse,
And a short bit in his nostril
To stop him from jumping.
I am as gentle as a swan,
My stallion is gentle on my backside.
Up top, my saddle is smooth,
Like the van, I’m bald.

The two best lands in all the world,
The cultivated lands of Elfael,
Idnerth Hir and Elystan turned them
Into a land of fields,
And then, full of riches,
They were Einion Clud’s yard.
Elfael has never lent her shoulder,
Like so many lands, to an English tune.
Elfael is greater than a thousand myriad,
More than the fair of Man and her roads.
Troy was broader than Greece,
Wide in one fair whorl,
Yet the Greeks and their turmoil
Broke through the walls of Troy;
The men of Elfael also go
Through the wide lands of the earth.

If there is a musician without
A share of silver or mead,
Let him drop his prices, let him search the Wye
For silver, as far as Clyro;
From Clyro, calling for strength
In his heels, back to Diserth;
From Diserth, and being honoured,
Let him come to the land of Aberedw.
In strength he will have cattle,
In minted gold, in kind words,
In corn, on the banks of the Edw,
In great stallions, in greater happiness.

Over Elfael, the Cross of Tyfaelog,
And the Virgin, and the Cross and the Holy Rood,
Let Dwynwen extend her cross
Over the land of Mael, over fair Elfael,
God’s will be done, below the land of Mael,
And Sulfedd bless Elfael!

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