Saturday, March 24, 2007

Drum Ddu

In the previous poem it seems to me that Lewis Glyn Cothi alludes to the area within the Builth hundred that harboured outlaws - Drum Ddu. We know that Lewis was an outlaw himself at one period, so he may have know the area from then - the outlaw bard Llywelyn ap y Moel almost certainly did. Drum Ddu continued as a rebel stronghold well into the sixteenth century and even later - no doubt it was more heavily wooded then than it is today.

Anyway, this enables me to make a tenuous link to the fretless bass player Percy Jones, who included a track entitled Drum Ddu on the Brand X album Manifest Destiny. Now jazz fusion is not my scene but you can check out Radnorshire born Percy's interesting website here. One thing mentioned on the site is a CD of R&B tracks made from an old tape recording of The Viceroys playing at Glasbury Village Hall in 1965. In a way that CD must be almost as fragile and rare a piece of historical evidence as some of the manuscripts containing the old bardic poetry.

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 32

This poem begins with praise of St Afan, so was probably composed for a parish feast to celebrate the saint's feastday - 16th October. the Patron of the feast Dafydd ap Maredudd belongs to the major descent group in Buellt, the Moelwyniaid. Lewis Glyn Cothi again alludes to an ancient manuscript roll in his possession, to which he adds the names of his own patrons.

No. 139, Praise of Dafydd ap Maredudd and Siwan vz Rhys

I have fashioned verse for you Afan of Buellt,
I have poems as numerous as dewdrops;
The son of Caredig C’redigion,
You are Afan, so true writing confirms,
Son of Cunedda Wledig, a good, wise man,
Backbone of the wealthy lands,
Son of Edeyrn of the race of the generous
Padarn Peisrudd, like a sprout from Israel,
Kinsman in the faith to Holy Dewi,
Kinsman of dark-fair Teilo the anchorite,
A bishop in your triple cope,
You are a saint of their lineage.

In your parish there is a divine Welshman,
He has the parish to follow him;
Dafydd the son of Maredudd,
Part of the silkwork of Llysdinan,
Of the line of generous Ieuan ap Morgan,
A lion of the land of Buellt and her splendid material.
Except for Dafydd, there is no man
More like Ieuan ap Moelwyn.

Truth grows from the words of his tongue,
Truth is what the man seeks.
There is not a word that is not honoured,
Yet only truth goes to the chair.
His tongue is the ready bragget
That varnishes judgements.
There were seven who counted the stars,
Many suppose, in the vale of Tiber;
Their seven tales to the nation
Protected a child after breakfast.;
Dafydd is the eighth,
His tale will come to his son.

The God of the Hebrews, to my breast
Has given an old rolled manuscript.
Just as he placed in Moses’ tablet
Ten commandments at the end of the roll,
Two names - they are not of the same age -
Have been placed in my heavenly roll:
The name of Jesus who was and will be,
In the tablet, and the name of Dafydd.

Two speeches, by Mary, were on my lip
Yesterday, yet spoken by Taliesin:
They were a speech concerning the psalters of Mary,
And Siwan’s speech of welcome.
A daughter of Rhys, with five fingers from the bank,
Is youthful, talented Siwan.
The Enid of Gruffydd this white wave,
A fair spoken grandchild of Ricert;
An Euron of the race of Anarawd,
A portent in her five years of fortune.
To Buellt, there as she grows,
The sun of Cantre’ Selyf has turned,
To Llanafan, a heavenly spot,
To Llysdinam, above the river meadow.
The best court between the Wye and the church
For a talented lad, Llysdinan.
I aim for Rhos Dinan,
I go to the peak of Caer Ddinan.
I’m not to be had, I’ve no wish, ever,
To be more than two steps from the castle of Dinan the Giant.

Siwan is in fair Llysdinan,
Dafydd, humble his words.
Today Dafydd and Siwan,
Both call for a feat on a fair headland.
Little Siwan is good for profit,
Dafydd is good and young,
They are good to everyone, all are good,
They were so kind, God be kind to them.

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 31

Another praise poem by the fifteenth century bard Lewis Glyn Cothi which yet again reflects his great regard for the cantref of Elfael. Ieuan Du and Lleucu vz Ieuan Coch lived in the parish of Diserth, probably at Trecoed.

No 152, Praise of Ieuan Du and Lleucu vz Ieuan Coch

I walked through many lands
When I was footloose and free;
I saw with my own eyes
The riches of those evil countries;
I saw that their wealth was not to be had,
Not a score of their race were generous;
In Elfael I found bountiful folk,
There is no more generous land than this.

In Elfael on our own doorstep,
There is good fun and generosity;
In Elfael, the patrimony of the men,
There are warriors once more;
In Elfael, the land of Mael of the mead,
In crisis there is courage.
Here there is one of my nation
Who would hold the two lands once more:
Generous Ieuan Du, a leaping stag,
It is he, the son of Dafydd.
They talk throughout the five counties
Of the lineage of Hywel ap Meilyr;
I brought here for sale
A song for the goshawk of Diserth;
He gave me, and not sullenly
Three times its worth, and a little more.

There was once a lion in the town of Caerleon,
With his men of the Round Table;
He conquered, and shared with them,
Townships as far as Rome.
Ieuan has been a faithful pupil
To Arthur of old,
He has conquered, and will do so again,
In six places in Uwch Mynydd.

For Ieuan there is a hall
Entirely made of carved wood.
There within its walls
Is all that warms a resting man:
The warmth of food and discussion,
The warmth of gold, followed by verses,
The warmth of wine inside one,
The warmth of another silver coin.
Ieuan and his fair mistress
Share with all who are present.

There you’ll meet cheerful Lleucu,
A famous host, the daughter of Ieuan Coch;
She is the grandchild of Cadwgan,
He is the grandchild of Meilyr’s son.
A proverb, by the face of Non,
The kindness of these people;
They are the best of our country,
Sowing minted gold, providing mead.
Their mothers, their fathers,
Their brothers up in the vale of Edw,
Their children will be the strength of our land,
Their grandchildren will be honoured.
These two, a fine adventure,
Will excel over all others.

Jesus placed Lleucu under an oath,
Giving her hand to this prince;
He granted a wealth of power, Iefan,
And in that power and her share;
He granted tenants, he granted houses,
He granted fine soil, he granted good land,
He granted gold coins to him and to her,
Now grant them a long life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monte Carlo 1932

Click photo to enlarge

Joan Richmond

The very first VSCC Welsh Weekend was held in Presteigne in 1939, and second place in that year's event went to the racing driver Joan Richmond driving a Lancia Lambda. Joan came to prominence in 1921 by driving a Citroen from her home town of Melbourne to Camooweal in Western Australia. Coming to Europe her biggest success was in the 1932 JCC 1000 mile event at Brooklands which she won with Elsie Wisdom in a Riley. Returning to Australia after the war she lacked the funds to continue racing but found a sporting outlet in sailing inexpensive Sabot yachts.

I wonder how much of a challenge Joan found the Radnorshire hills, after all this was a lady who drove her Riley to the start of the 1932 Monte Carlo Rally from Australia via Asia and the Middle East!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

In the News

There's a profile of Innes Ireland in today's edition of the Scottish newspaper the Sunday Herald. Read it here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 30

This is a praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Watcyn Fychan of Hergest

No. 127, Praise of Watcyn Fychan

Mary has made a heaven of the present
In the estate of fair Herast,
And Master Watcyn, God, a powerful father,
Has made into a man of estate.
Estate is being strong,
Being wise to give judgement;
Estate is the charge of two kindreds
And the ruling of others.
Many judgements with the white harness
From whence comes the saint of Gwallter Sais.
He is the sword form Dover to Glasbury,
And along the Humber, Tomas's chieftain.

He would be a generous prophet,
Sixty acres will fall into place;
He would silence and be heard,
The truth comes from the quiet prayer.
Gwatcyn, who gathers and calms,
Who compels with weapons.
Gentle and wild, moorland and wood,
In my opinion, so unalike.
With the spear he causes
The rebellious to loose men,
He does not make peace
For the hosts who come to war.
Gwatcyn is a wise-bloom
Slow-brave, witty-wise.
He subdues the men of the lowlands
With his fair words,
Some of the fearless out of fear of battle,
Some others out of love.
Abaying the two lands of Powys
With the tip of a finger.
Not Dudley nor the Duke nor their men
Have done as much as he.

The land of Powys, mother of the mead,
Is his kindred, and Gwynedd.
Let there be called beneath his banner
Eighteen lands, they'll come to him:
Cedewian and Caereinion,
Ceri and broad Arwystli,
From London to great Mechain,
From Cyfeiliog to Maelor.
By now he rules a hundred castles,
A hundred great townships, a hundred healthy crowds,
A hundred citadels before the conquest ends,
A hundred companies with a hundred spear-rests,
A hundred stallions, the first of a thousand,
From a hundred to twenty thousand;
He seeks a core of counties along the border,
Twenty lands follow him,
Twenty seals from the heights of Windsor,
Twenty offices for my great lord.

Watcyn at the limits of his lands
Is honoured as a baron;
His credible father was a baron,
Their great-grandfathers were barons;
He is a baron without a word gone to waste,
He shall be a tall earl, the lion of Herast.