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Taliesin, who in one of his poems gives an honourable testimony to the fame of Aneurin?, was like him called Penbeirdd, Chief, or King of Bards. He lived in the reign and enjoyed the favour of Maelgwn Gwynedd, King of all Wales. He was found, when an infant, exposed in a wear, which Gwyddno Garanhir, the King of Cantre'r Gwaelod, had granted as a maintenance to Prince Elphin his son. Elphin, with many amiable qualities, was extravagant; and, having little success at the wear, grew discontented and melancholy. At this juncture Taliesin was found by the fishermen of the prince, by whose command he was carefully fostered and liberally educated. At a proper age the accomplished Bard was introduced by his princely patron at the court of his father Gwyddno, to whom he presented, on that occafion, a poem called Hanes Taliesin, or Taliesin's History; and at the same time another to the prince, called Dyhuddiant Elphins, the consolation of Elphin, which the Bard addresses to him in the person and character of an exposed infant. Taliesin lived to recompense the kindness of his benefactor : by the magic of his Song he redeemed him from the castle of Teganwy, (where he was for some misunderstanding confined by his uncle Maelgwn,) and afterwards conferred upon him an illustrious immortality.
Taliesin was the master, or poetical preceptor of Myrddin ap Morviyn: he enriched the British Prosody with five new metres: and has transmitted in his poems such vestiges as throw new light on the history, knowledge, and manners of the ancient Britons and their Druids, much of whose mystical learning he imbibed.
The first poem which I have chosen for a specimen of Taliesin's manner, is his description of the battle
The Battle of Argoed Llwyvain a
A SONG TOURIE N.
Morning rose: the issuing sun
Saw the dreadful fight begun :
Clos'd the battle, clos'd the day.
Fflamddwyn pour'd his rapid bands,
Legions four, o'er Riged's lands.
The numerous host from side to side
Spread destruction wild and wide,
Born and ended with the day!
Flush'd with conquest, Fflamddwyn said,
Boaftful at his army's head ;
“ Strive not to oppose the stream,
Redeem your lands, your lives redeem.
Give me pledges ?” Flamddwyn cried.
“ Never”, Urien's son replied,
Kindling, as the hero spoke,
brated by Taliesin in poems now extant. See Carte's History of
England, p. 211, and 213. where there is much valuable intor-
mation relating to the ancient Britons,
S A district of Cumberland, the country of Prince Llywarch
Hén, from whence he was driven by the Saxons.
• Some place on the borders of Northumberland.
7 Owen ap Urien acted as his father's general; and is called, 3 See this poem, published and translated in Evans's specimens. in the British Triades, “ one of the three Cavaliers of Battle."
Atorelwis Urien, ydd yr echwyad;
Cenau, Coel's blooming heir
A rhag gwaith Argoed Llwyfain,
Havoc, havoc rag'd around, Bu llawer celain :
Many a carcase strew'd the ground; Rbuddai frain,
Ravens drank the purple flood; Rhag rhyfel gøyr!
Raven plumes were dy'd in blood; A gwerin a fry[wys gan ei newydd.
Frighted crowds from place to place;
Eager, hurrying, breathless, pale,
Trembling as they told the tale.
These are Taliesin's rhimes, Yin dygn ang au angen;
These shall live to distant times, Ni byddif ymdyrwén ;
And the Bard's prophetic rage
Animate a future age.
My grateful songs to Urien's praise ! About the beginning of the sixth century, Urien, son of Cynvarch ab Meirchion, King of Reged; (a territory in Caledonia, bordering on the Ystraddlwyd Britons ', to the south ;) who was bred in King Arthur's Court, and was one of his knights: he had great experience in war, and great power in the country by the largeness of his dominion, and the number of his vassals : he was still greater by his reputation and wisdom; and by his valour in defending his country against the encroaching Saxons. After several engagements, with various success, he at last prevailed so far against Theodoric, son of Ida, as to force him to fly into Holy Island for safety. Urien, the glory of his country, who had braved death so often in the field, and fought it in vain among the thickest of his enemies, fell at last in the midst of his own men, in the year 560, by the treachery of Morgant, brother to Rhydderch, from mere envy, on
8 Cenau led to the assistance of Urien Reged, the forces of his Lewis's History of Britain, p. 201. and Carte's History of England. father Coel Godhebog, king of a northern tract, called Goddeu, 9 The Strath-clwyd Britons inhabited the west part of Scotprobably inhabited by the Godini of Ptolemy. Owen ap Urien land : and the Cumbrians dwele from the wall fouthward as far as and Cenau ap Coel were in the number of Arthur's Knights. See I the Ribble, in Lancashire. 5
account of his superior merit. The names of the two assassins, suborned to commit this execrable deed, were Dyvnwal, son of Mynyddawg, and Llovan llawddino, of Edinburg, who were both Britons that served in his troops, and are recorded in the Triades; where this is reckoned to be one of the three villainous mi ders committed in Britain, and wbich contributed most to its ruin. Urien is also celebrated, in the Triades, as one of the three Bulls of War. Taliesin dedicated to him upwards of twelve poems, in which he describes most of his battles; and he likewise wrote an Elegy on his Death. Also, Prince Llowarch Hen composed a Lamentation, on the loss of this distinguished Hero.
The Battle of Gwenytrad.
Extol the warriors, who on Cattraeth's lawn, Went forth to battle with the rising dawn.Victorious Urien's praise, the Bard hext fings : The first of heroes! and the shield of Kings !
gwyar a faglai ar ddillad,
The British hoft, impatient for the fray,
For heroes at the pass the foe engaged : + There horror stalk'd in hideous forms around, * While blood in purple streams deluged the ground:
And ere the long disputed Fort they gain,
See Reged's dauntless Christian Chief appear !
10 Though they were successful, it may be said in the words of Shakspeare, to have been among those victories,
" For which the conquerors mourn'd so many fell."
M E D D.
THE MEAD SONG, by Taliesin.
It appears, that Prince Elphin had been invited by his uncle, King Maelgwyn, to keep his Christmas at his Court, at the
To him that rules supreme ;-our Sovereign Lord,
Creation's Chief - by all that lives ador'd.
Who made the waters, and sustains the skies;
Who gives, and prospers, all that's good and wise.-
To him I'll pray, that Maelgwn ne'er may need, Ai féddgorn, ewyn gwerlyn gwymba,
Exhaustless stores of sparkling, nect'rous, mead :
Such as with mirth our hours has often crown'd,
Delicious Mead! Man's solace and his pride,
Médd hidlaid, molaid, molud i bob tra,
Oh, Power Supreme !--Prince of the Realm of Peace;
Llywarch Hện, or Llywarch the aged, a Cumbrian prince, is the third noted Bard of the British annals. He past his younger days at the Court of King Arthur, with the honourable distinction of a free guest. When the British power was weakened by the death of Arthur, Llywarch was called to the aid of his kinsman, Urien Reged, King of Cumbria, and the defence of his own principality, against the irruptions of the Saxons.
This princely Bard had four and twenty fons, all invested with the golden torques, which appears to have been the antient badge of British nobility'. Many of them were flain in the Cumbrian wars, and the Saxons at length prevailed. The unfortunate Llywarch, with his few surviving sons, fled into Powys, there to revive the unequal and unsuccessful contest under the auspices of the Prince of Powys, Cynddylan. Having lost, in the issue of these wars, all his sons and friends, he retired to a hut at Aber Ciog ’ in North Wales, to sooth with his harp the remembrance of misfortune, and vent with elegiac numbers the sorrows of old age in distress. His poems are in some places rather unintelligible : not because they want fimplicity, which * Taliesin likewise wrote Canu y Cwrw, or The Ale fong. South Wales is fai, for any kind of liquor that is made of the
juice of fruit, such as Cyder, Perry, Rafberry-wine, Currant. Proverbial Sayings in Wales.
wine, Goofeberry-wine, Cowslip-wine, Elder-wine, Servicevôd yn Llawen — yved Win!
wine, Birch-wine, &c. Gryy — yved Gwrw!
1 Hybarch yo máb y marchog, A vynno vid yn Jach -- yved Védd!
(Yn aur) yn arian golerog
We find also, in the Book of Numbers, Chap. xxxi. ver. 50.
that chief commanders wore chains of gold. The following beverages were the customary drink of the Now Dól Giog near Machynllaith in Montgomeryshire. There ancient Britons against thirit.
Llywarch died, near the age of 150, about the year 634; and Dzér, Water. Gwin, Wine. - Cwrw, Ale. — Bir, Strong probably was buried at Llanvawr, near Bala in Merionethshire, Beer. Midd, Medelyglyn, Bragod, Mead, Metheglyn, and Brag- where, in the west window of the church, is a stone with an gtt.- Avaleulyn, Cyder.-Maidd-glas, Whey. Schola Salerni. inscription. Llywarch Hén, was a son of Elidir Lydanwyn, of They allo vie various other wines, and the general term in 'Ystrad Clwyd, in the North.
is their characteristic beauty, but from the antiquity of the language, which is partly the Venedotian, and partly the Cumbrian dialect, and from scantiness of information concerning the facts. The compositions of Llywarch are pure nature, unmixed with that learning and contrivance which appears in the writings of Taliesin : he did not, like that great bard, extend the bounds of British poetry, but followed implicitly the works of the Druids, closing many of his stanzas with their venerable maxims. He writes in such a simple, undisguised, pathetic manner, that it is impossible to suspect hiin of misrepresentation ; he has no fictions, no embellishments, no display of art; but gives an affecting narrative of events and circumstances. Since I published the first Edition of this Book, Mr. Francis Percival Eliot, of Shenstone Moss near Litchfield, has favoured me with the following version of several stanzas in the first and second poems, of Lly Hén ; which I with pleasure present my readers (instead of the former prose translation,) as an elegant and animated specimen of the poetry of that princely Bard 3.
The Lamentations of Prince Llywarch Hên. Hark! the cuckow's plaintive note,
Yet once again, the tuneful choir Doch thro’ the wild vale sadly float;
Sing, but me no joys inspire; As from the rav’nous hawk's pursuit,
The babbling brook that murmurs by, In Ciog rests her weary foot;
The silver moon that shines on high, And there with mournful sounds and low,
Sees me tremble, hears me figh. Echoes my harp's responsive woe.
How cold the midnight hour appears !
How droops my heart with ling’ring cares !
And hear'st thou not yon wild wave's roar,
Dashing on the rocky shore? To rouse the brethren of the war;
And the hollow midnight blast, When, as each youthful hero's breast
Loft sensation binding fast, Gloweth for the glorious test,
In the adamantine chain
Of Terror-Hark! it howls again.
And lo! what scenes invade my sight,
Fear-form'd shadows of the night! Monarch of an hundred ifles.
See great Urien's princely shade, And Snowdon from his awful height,
Cambria's monarch, shoots the glade ; His hoar head waves propitious to the fight.
Gory drops his locks distil,
Ever flows the sanguine rill, But I — no more in youthful pride,
Yet, feated still as it was wont, Can dare the steep rock's haughty side ;
Valour crowns his awful front.
Next Cyndelylan treads the plain,
Raise, my harp, to him the strain ; heep me from the field away.
Powys' prince, and Llywarch's host,
Llivon's pride, and Morlas' boast: Hark! how the songsters of the vale,
Great as Caradoc in war; Spring's glad return with carols hail;
Swift as Howeľs scythed car; Sweet is their song - and loud the cry,
Still the Saxons seem to fear When the strong-scented hound, doth fly
Cynddylan's arm, and think him near. Where the gaunt wolf's step is trac'd
Next a warlike train advance, O'er the defart's dreary waste.
Skill'd to poize the pondrous lance; Again they fing; again they cry;
Golden chains their breasts adorn; But low in grief my soul doth lye.
Sure for conquest they were born. —
3 Those who may be incited to a further acquaintance with preservation. Llywarch Hen's Poems were to have been pub. the beauties of Prince Llywarch Hin, will fhortly have access lined by my late worthy friend, the Rev. John Walters, of to them in an edition of all his works extant, with a literal Jefus College, Oxford, if God had prolonged his life; to whom translation and notes; which will be published in the Second I am infinitely indebted for his communications and allittance in Volume of this Work, with feveral other things worthy of the first Edition of this Book. 2