Sunday, November 16, 2008

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 46

This is a translation of the bard Llawdden's elergy to Elen Gethin, presumably he composed it for one of her daughters. The tomb which Elen had made for her and her husband can still be seen in Kington parish church. At the end of the poem Llawdden compares Elen to, amongst others, the Helena - mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine - who recovered the true cross from Jerusalem; the Seven Wise Sages of Rome, and the biblical Susanna.

Llawdden's Elergy for Elen Gethin

Since Monday, for me,
The planet is without light.
Monday the fair one was dark,
A day of weeping, Elen’s demise.
Snatched, like a saint’s ascension,
She was of no great age.
A blessed wife, faith’s vision,
Sought the temple of Tomas’s bed.
The fair one who brought his body home
From the pain of the battlefield of Banbury.
And now he, in Kington church,
Cannot sleep because of his Lady.
She was loved, she and her chieftain,
Let them find heaven from the bed she made.
A great white wall, made of marble,
Like the cloak of Mwrog and Mariaith.
The image of a man and his lover in the church,
In the clay before the Son of God.
A stone curtain, a white mantle
Closed for eternity.

A psalm for Elen Gethin, she shared wine,
I bring for her daughter.
The moon is faint to hold court
After Elen and her two courts.
Teams ploughed her lands,
A fair estate, she wasn’t poor.
Her hall never lacked wines for
The world, anymore than Bath.
There was no wall without light
With candlesticks about her corpse.
Gold and coral on her fingers,
Fair lass, to count the saints.
Pointless in her day to
Rebuke her kinsfolk,
She allowed no perjury
Or poverty amongst her people.

A good woman, with Susanna’s sense,
And wine and candles in her court.
A sister to that woman who fetched the Cross,
Until the end of her life,
Lear’s daughter before the goodmen,
Coel’s daughter, great hearted;
Fair Marsia, many mention
Her law and works of old.
Every word from her was strong,
Elen’s learning was expected.
Seven were next to her in speech,
The eighth, her learned tongue.
She was a Sybil, her language was good,
A second Solomon to her breast.
If David had two sons,
From her two sons will spring goodmen:
Master Watcyn, a pure and pleasant lad,
Is there any more powerful? Master Rhosier!
If holy Mary calls Tomas and Elen
To heaven on high,
We expect, God, without doubt,
A golden halo above their heads.

No comments: