Thursday, April 13, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 12

This poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi is addressed to Dafydd ap Rhys of Harpton and is notable for a mention of the Book of Taliesin which had made it's way to this part of Radnorshire. Interestingly just a couple of miles away from Harpton was Hergest where that other important medieval manuscript, the Red Book was to be found. In a reversal of roles it is the patron Dafydd who explains the meaning of the verses of Gwion (Taliesin) to his bard. Perchentyaeth - propriety - is the obligation placed upon the ruler to those he rules.

No. 157 Praise to Dafydd ap Rhys of Harpton

A St Michael of Harpton
Mary keep him, a fair Welshman;
Dafydd ap Rhys ap Meurig,
A saint for sowing silver.
Who do I love but Dafydd?
Who loves us? The good body of Old Radnor.

I am a poet who’ll always
Bring him nightly prayers.
Tomorrow night I’ll make a song
For the strong bough of Ifor and Bran.
He has made the perchentyaeth of our land
A living form, it is not broken.
His white house, be it Friday
Or Thursday, is the best under the stars;
On a Saturday it is better
Than a Sunday in countless wine houses.
In this man’s house I’ve had,
Although it was deep into winter:
Fish, birds cooked in bread,
Pasties, fine vintage wines,
Eight tables full of sustenance,
A supper of shop vegetables,
A serving of every herb,
Frequent courses, and white sugar,
Mead to intoxicate my breast with song,
Such rare delicacies and nourishment.

My office, throughout the year,
With the lion, should he leave the wine:
To read together through every book,
Discussing sense, arguing meaning;
If there might be a verse that one fails to understand
Then the other will surely explain it.
Dafydd took the verses of Gwion,
And helped me to understand them correctly.

He is chieftain to the Traethen,
For me let him be a leader..
From here to Anglesey he is a lamb,
A furious dragon with the crown.
Edward trusts this man
Who has a fist upon his dart.
Oh protect the land, there was no peace,
And the barriers and the river estuaries.
King Edward’s ash spearmen
Break the doorway towards the threat,
And a Derfel from Harpton
Goes before them like Owain Wyn.
When the Irishmen come
And the aliens, unruly ones,
Dafydd’s office, two days work,
Is to defeat them and drive them away.

Every hour I’m Dafydd’s bard,
If I am, then my world is blessed for the day;
A gift from the floor of Harpton
Is in my purse for this;
Of the gifts that I may expect in two lives,
Dafydd gives them and has given them;
And as he gave, like one from Greece,
Let Mary give unto Meurig’s grandson.

No comments: