Friday, January 05, 2007

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 27

There are some fine elements in this praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi to Rhys ap Phelpod of Brilley and Mallt vz Ieuan of Bryncoch, Llansantffraid yn Elfael. The description of the hearth at the beginning and the description of the arduous duties of the bard are particularly good.

N0. 146. Praise of Rhys ap Phelpod and Mallt vz Ieuan

In Brilley there is a hearth
That provides gold and food for all,
A hearth heaped with warm ash,
Built high with slow burning oak.
A baby’s cradle, free from cold,
A table of charcoal between two cosy walls;
An altar of peat upon the floor,
A fire from an ash wood.
So very warm, this square fortress,
A great bed of charcoal and embers,
A hearth between four flagstones,
With twenty slates in its floor;
A banner shaped like a flitch,
A pen of fire on a fair floor.
The smoke of heaven in a carved stone enclosure.
It is manna within a hall.
Stone like the hearth of Rheged,
Very pale rocks in a warm castle.
The oak light of Urien’s home
Has been kindled in a blessed household.

A bard’s blessing, it is so beautiful,
This is the blessing I give.
Two hearths better than Dublin,
For our tongue’s sake have become one:
A hearth of Kington, one of our tongue,
A hearth of Bryncoch once more,
A hearth of Phelpod from the vale,
A hearth for a falcon of Elfael’s land,
And two like them, by the Holy God,
Hold the two hearths.
The Roland of Brilley, a defender,
Generous Rhys, an unassuming man,
You are the swan of Phelpod ap Rhys,
And his hart, an emperor from John.
Your custom, Rhys, while it be summertime,
To honour the most authoritative,
And Mahallt, the gem from Ieuan,
Gives clothing to the weak cripples.
Ieuan ap Cadwgan has been
The brave dragon of Emrys for Wales;
You and his daughter shall both
Be well filled with cheerfulness.
You are happy from the height of nobility,
Happy is Mallt pouring mead.

My office Rhys, to bring levity
To your court, Rhys, for an age to come.
To have the best ale in my hand
And to care for your mazer-cup,
To kiss, six hundred times,
The rim of the sparkling bell,
To wait upon it during the feast,
Caring for its lid and its carousal,
To have more gold than I merit,
And to dine in your court.
My blessing, Rhys, to you,
But to Mallt, the blessing of my God.
You are two who make me welcome,
And one despite giving a score of gifts.
Your old family have had two hearts
And one of them would seem like eight,
And your sons and your grandchildren,
And those to be born to them,
And every grandchild of your great grandchildren
Shall govern the houses of this hearth.

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