Monday, January 30, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 5

If your surname is Philpott and your ancestors originated from in Herefordshire, you might think they were English. Wrong.

This is my translation Lewis Glyn Cothi's elergy for Phelpod ap Rhys of Brilley:

No 144, Elegy for Phelpod ap Rhys

When the knell sounded for Ifor of Brilley,
There was a groan, oh why this?

Phelpod was kind to the poor,
The son of generous Rhys, a shoot of Sion.
Oh Holy Mary! Was there a better man
Than this since ancient Cadell?
From the storytellers
There was a world within his head;
Rarely has a living man surpassed
Him in knowledge of the Bible.
In his lands, he was the best Welshman,
He spoke the Welsh of Wales;
And because of this the son of Rhys knew
The chronicles of the men of the island.
Did he have a brother in faith?
Of course, there was Gildas ap Caw.
There are seven parts to earthly knowledge,
And just seven men knew them all;
He in the vale of Kington,
Knew something of each one.

Phelpod was an excellent man,
A leader whom all followed.
Scarlet, like the father of Tewdwr,
He wore, trimmed with fur.
Now his dress is quite different,
He is clothed in a new fashion;
A thin, tight dress of dark grey,
An overcoat of dull earth.
In the house of Jesus, his feet
Are both stuffed into one stocking;
His hands, folded gracefully about him,
Are pushed into one glove.

Oh Jesus! For placing him there,
In a house of roots and earth.
The soil consumes Phelpod ap Rhys,
Within three girdles of stone,
He has ended in the earth,
A short bed in a sealed grave.
How strange the death of a flower,
How strange the death of a man;
Every particle of a man withers to dust,
So too the kindly flower.
A forest like that on Cefn Digoll,
Once covered all of the land of Brilley;
Jesus has cut down a great oak
From the forest of Rhys, he was not old!
The tree is felled in a moment,
A riddle to the end of time.

His death came with
Plaintive harp song and mourning,
Boasting bells assault our ears;
Horns and trumpets, side by side,
Anchorites walking in a procession.
A single candle aflame in a stick,
Incense, like the church of Windsor,
Or that on the grave of St George.
In the church of St Mary, in Mary’s ward,
My fair leopard was ploughed into the earth.
His soul, with that of his parents,
Went to the grace of the One and Three.
The Trinity prepared a way for Phelpod,
Three prophets made three highways;
Three liberal heavens await the grandson of Sion,
Let there be three ages for his children and grandchildren.

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