Sunday, March 23, 2008

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 45

Tomas ap Rhosier Fychan of Hergest was killed at the Battle of Banbury in 1469, this translation of an elegy by Lewis Glyn Cothi confirms how his wife Elen Gethin brought his body back home from the battlefield, the couples' tomb can still be seen in Kington parish church. The illustration shows Lewis Glyn Cothi's drawing of Tomas ap Rhosier's coat of arms, he belonged to the Wye valley tribe of Drymbenog, originating it seems from Cwrt Llechryd in the Radnorshire parish of Llanelwedd.

No. 124,
Elegy for Tomas ap Rhosier Fychan of Hergest

The most powerful field in Christendom,
And through defection it was lost;
In Banbury vengeance was taken
Upon fair Wales, a heavy payment.
There, were heard in a single hour
The cries of battle between great spearmen:
Some "Herbert!" some "Our Edward!"
"The Earl of Warwick!" others "Harry!"
Under the banner of the lord of Herast
There was slashing and bruising and grappling;
Tomas between the two maddened ranks,
The son of Rhosier with the bruising spear,
An Arthur in his breastplate,
Killed before the host of Camlan,
And he, himself, and not lightly,
With both hands avenged them.
Tomas was killed like Jesus,
He was killed when at the head of his host.
Tomas, in his white breastplate,
More than repaid the enemy.
If he were fighting fist to fist with
The three most singularly privileged in Banbury,
He did what nine might do,
After the charge, in the hand to hand,
He was not had, where the others were killed
In single combat with a man and another,
And if he were, where there were two
In single combat, he had the best of it.

Loud the battle with our enemy
In cruel Banbury, atop a hill,
Two men went, neither was spared,
An earl of Gwent, another of Kington.
The grandson of Moreiddig
Had many virtues and few vices,
He never allowed, in his manor
Through his exertions, any great tax,
Mostly they were avoided,
And all of them were shared in wine.
A wonder for the books of knowledge,
No-one lives who blames him.

Elen Gethin has been weeping
Drips of dew in drops of rain,
And after the brave weeping
She brought the dead one back,
She has made this feast
In Herast for his funeral.
Afterwards there shall awaken,
Three like St George or St Derfel.
Three with the skill to avenge her,
The true God will give me payment.
Master Watcyn, son of a sweet shoot,
Master Rhisiart and Master Rhosier.
The intention of the threes sons of Constantine
to be strong and to topple oppression,
These now will avenge their father
Upon England before sleep enters the eye,
And they before summer ends
Will share a field taken form the strongest,
Upon two new days, as one,
That Mary's son may grant them.
In the spot where he was killed
God will joust for Tomas.
The image of Mary will avenge him,
God, too, may take vengeance.

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