Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 26

This praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi is addressed to Rhys ap Gruffudd of Glascwm. The leading bardic patrons in Elfael Uwch Mynydd all seem to be descended from the Deheubarth descent group Rhys ap Tewdwr, a number of whose patriarchs are mentioned here. This poem is interesting in that it shows that the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn was known in fifteenth century Radnorshire.

No 153. Praise of Rhys ap Gruffudd

On Easter day I'd go into Glasgwm,
To Rhys of the heavy ash spear,
The dear son, there in the two lands of Elfael,
Of Gruffudd, his body was generosity.
The grandson of Cadwgan with his ash tree
Will win the whole wide world.
The Huail of Hywel ap Meilyr,
In his place he'll come to win land.
Yet through the summer, he did not speak
At all, except with care.
Quiet talk is to my taste,
Good and wise when it comes.
Quiet and wise and sweet
Is all that Rhys speaks.
A wise man has spoken fairly
Three words that pierced a rock.
The occasional word in every Assembly
Is all that Rhys speaks.
One of his words in passion,
Count for two fair words or three.
Words that became his good poem
To all who were there.

He never quarrelled with anyone,
For his part, he never seeks contention;
But should they seek contention,
Rhys would do more than his share.
Rhys Michell was the same
In the overthrow of the great earls of Deheubarth.
Rhys Gryg, the finest Rhys of Christendom
Was feared in the land of Dyfed;
In a time that is know
This Rhys will follow them.
Rhys ap Tewdwr, fom his household,
Gave gold minted from his mould;
Generous Rhys from the border of broad Elfael
Gives silver this very hour.
I would suggest that there is none like him
For generosity, no-one compares;
The equal of all, despite the cost,
And better will be the gold from his hand.
Better than an earl, by the power of Non!
Better than a duke, the line of Cadwgan.

Had I tongue of steel
To take a newly created language,
I could not sing swiftly
Half a word to him in song,
Had I, without delay,
A head of stone, even if it were marble,
It could not deliver what Rhys would pay,
Nor its half, to our domain.
The generous prefer that honest verse
Should be delivered before a man.
Truly Rhys loves the wine of Alsace,
And he shares it with those men who do,
Six different ales, upon the floor,
A great expense there'll be in Elfael;
Six times as generous as Cu Chulainn,
Even in ebb, is Rhys.
The man is good for three spirits,
Good with his ale to weak and poor.
Well he shares with the three isles,
God will share well with Rhys.

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