Sunday, March 19, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 10

This poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Lewis ap Gwatcyn of Painscastle uses the popular medieval device of a discussion between the body and the soul.

No 133 Praise to Lewis ap Gwatcyn of Painscastle

I live to receive more,
Without stop, in this big world.
There is a tiresome argument
Within my body, for my soul:
The soul cares not a jot for what
The body loves, the great emptiness of lust;
If my little body had his way, he would
Allow nothing the soul desired;
My soul, if he had his wish
Would have heavenly food;
While the body desires,
Without restraint, wine and feasting.
My soul is more innocent,
Yet they both exist like two little men.

The body desires , when full of ale,
Something more than innocence;
The lively little body is eager
For drunkenness and carousel,
He demands bragget and wassail,
At dead of night, and gets them,
He asks for feasting,
He asks for more mead,
There are dice? Cheapside chequers?
There are cards? There is friendship?
There are dances and games of chance?
There are carols? There is more beer?
Is there a single spot in Is Mynydd
From which you cannot walk before nightfall?
The rasbi wine is famed throughout Spain,
Well things are twice as good in Painscastle.

Lewis ap Gwatcyn, the tower of Bredwardine,
Is kind to the court poet,
A Roland of Llanbedr and Rhiwlen,
A champion of the race of Rhosier Hen.
For ages he’s had a pennant,
The shoulder and the height of Gwallter Sais,
A chieftain for Warwick’s seal,
The province of Gruffudd ap Hywel,
A brave emblem from his grandfather’s root,
The silver arms of the Iforites.
Upon Elfael, Lewis is
The lion’s claw, and a leader.
There’s no profit for a man, come what may,
To test him for the wages of war.
He wears about his rib cage
The royal hawk’s harness.
He is made on the banks of the Edw,
A leader, captain of the Wye bank,A
nd if aliens with a hundred guns
Should venture into our land,
Lewis, a second Eli and Joab,
Will turn them away like Trollope.
I turn, without entering below,
To call the muse to Lewis,
Until my cheerful body returns
From Lewis’s court and his white hall,
When it be fair summer
I’ll send my soul to the corporation.

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