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RELICKS OF THE WELSH BARDS.
Llywarch, the Bard of Llewelyn the Great ; Einion ab Gwalchmai; and Gruffydd ab yr Ynad Cóch ; are now extant, and ascribed with certainty to their authors'. The most distinguished instrumental composers were Cyvnerth, domestic Musician to Prince Maelgwn, Cuhelyn ab Caw. Corserch, musical Bard to Heilyn ; Davydd Athro ; Morvydd; and Cynwrig Bencerdd; who all flourished about the sixth century.—The following ten flourished about the year 1100: Alban ah Cynan ; Rhydderch Voel; Alaw Gerddwr; Carsi Delynior ; Cellan Bencerdd; Gwrgan; Talgrych ; Ivan ab y Gộv ; Llewelyn Delynior ; mâb Ivan ab y Góv. And the following flourished about the twelfth century : Davydd Gam, Delynior ; Einion Delynior ; Gwyn Bibydd; Gruffydd Vardd; Alban Bridr ; r Pibydd Moel. Cyhelyn Vardd ab Gwyn-vardd?; Cadwgan: and Gruffydd ab Adda ab Davydd, Prydydd a Thelynior, flourished about 1390.' All these were celebrated Muficians: we have a few remains of their compositions in an old manuscript; and only the names of others are preserved, by some flight mention in the pages of succeeding poets.
“Since Writing and practical Music have become separate professions, the celebrity of the poor Musician has died with the vibration of his strings. The voice of acclamation, and thunder of applause, pass away like vapours; and those hands that were most active in testifying temporary approbation, suffer the fame of those, who charmed away their cares and sorrows in the glowing hour of innocent delight, to remain unrecorded 8.” Some of the musical productions of this period are to be found in the present collection ; and fome far more ancient. I decline the task of pointing them out by any decisive opinion, because the oria ginal titles have often been changed, or lost, and they are now known by other names, substituted by later Bards in compliment to later patrons. This remark is minute, but necessary; for without it, the
of some of the best remains of Welfh Music might inadvertently be mistaken.
Early in the twelfth century, Music and Poetry had approached their utmost degree of perfection in Wales. Nor, by the common fate of the Arts in other countries, did they suddenly fall from the eminence they had attained. If in the progress of the succeeding age they showed any symptoms of decay, remedy was so diligently applied by the skill of the Eisteddvod to the declining part, that they preserved th former vigour, and perhaps acquired new graces. And had not the fatal accident, overwhelmed, in the hour of its prosperity, the hereditary princedom of Wales, which involved in the same ruin its Poetry and Mufic, our country might have retained to this day its ancient government, and its native arts, in the bosom of those mountains which protected them for ages. The Poets of these memorable times added energy to a nervous language, and the Musicians called forth from the harp its loudest and grandest tones, to re-animate the ancient struggle of their brave countrymen for freedom, and the pofsession of their parent foil. What was the success of their virtuous and noble purpose, the history of the æras when they flourished, can best explain. It is no flight proof of their influence, that when the brave, but unfortunate prince Llewelyn the last, after the surrender of his rights, and the sacrifice of his patriotism to his love', was treacherously slain at Buellt : Edward I. did not think himself secure in his triumph, till he added cruelty to injustice, and gave the final blow to Welsh liberty in the massacre of the Bards". In this execrable deed, Edward imitated the policy of Philip of Macedon, who demanded from the Athenians, as a condition of amity, the surrender of their orators.
The massacre was general ; and, as some of our most eminent Bards must have perished, it is probable that many of their works, and of the remains of their predecessors, were also destroyed, and are for ever loft. This lamentable event has given birth to one of the noblest Lyric compositions in the Englih language: a poem of such fire and beauty as to remove, as a late writer has thought", our regret of the occasion, and to compensate in some degree for the loss. But in heightening our regret consists the great merit of this admirable ode: and without bestowing on it any extravagant praise, I may boldly affirm,
* The works of most of the early Bards are to be found in “ King Edward the First, about the year 1271, a short time the Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, lately collected from the before he ascended the throne, took his Harper with him to the oldest Welth MSS. extant, and published in three large octavo Holy Land; and this musician must have been a close and convolumes, which contain most of the Ancient Wells Poems, Chro- ftant attendant on his master ; for when Edward was wounded nicles, Proverbs,&c. of the Ancient Britons; being the monuments with a poisoned knife at Ptolemais, the Harper hearing the strugof Ancient British History, through the space of about 1200 gle, rushed into the royal apartment, and killed the affaflin. years; which is an invaluable work, happily rescued from ob- This signal service from his Bard, did not however incline the livion, by the praise-worthy and liberal act, of Mr. Owen Jones, monarch afterwards to fpare his brethren in Wales.” merchant, of Thames-street, and a great admirer of his native “ Ruin seize thee, ruthless king.” -Gray's Ode. language.
Burney's Hif. vol. II. and Fuller's History of the Holy War, book 7 Chwaer Cyhelyn bevrddyn bách, Chwibanogl, chwe' buanach. IV. chap. 29.
Davydd ap Gwilym. There is an act of Edward the First, and another of Henry • Dr. Burney's History of Music, vol. II p. 70.
the IVth; to prohibit all Bards and musicians from pursuing , See Wynne's History of Wales, edit. 1774, P, 183. their profession within the principalities of Wales. See Leges
10 See Gutbrie's Historical Grammar. Carte's History of Eng. Walliace, p. 543, 547, and 548, of the Appendix. Jand, vol. II. p 196. And Evan's Specimens of Ancient Welih " See the Hon. Daines Barrington's Miscellanies. p. 343. and Poetry, p. 46.
that the Polyolbion of Drayton ", and the Bard of Gray, have contributed no less to the reputation of their authors than to the glory of Wales, and are the only modern productions worthy to alleviate the loss we sustained in so immense a waste of literary treasures, and such irreparable ruin of genius.
After the dissolution of the princely government of Wales, such was the tyranny exercised by the Englith over the conquered nation, that the Bards, who were born“ since Cambria’s fatal day,” might be said to rise under the influence of a baleful and malignant star. They were reduced to employ their sacred art in obscurity and forrow, and constrained to suppress the indignation that would burst forth in the most animated strains against their ungenerous and cruel oppressors. Yet they were not silent, or inactive. That their poetry might breathe with impunity the spirit of their patriotism, they became dark, prophetick, and oracular. As the Monks of the Welsh Church, in their controversy with Rome, had written, to countenance their doctrines, several religious poems which they feigned to be the work of Taliesin, the Bards now afa cribed many of their poetical writings to the same venerable author, and produced many others as the prophesies of the elder Merddyn. Hence much uncertainty prevails concerning the genuine remains of the fixth century, great part of which has descended to us mutilated and depraved : and hence that mysterious air which pervades all the Poetry of the later periods I am now describing. The forgery of those poems, which are entirely spurious, though they may have past unquestioned even by such critics as Dr. Davies, and Dr. J. D. Rhys, may, I think, be presently detected. They were written to serve a popular and a temporary purpose, and were not contrived with such fagacity and care as to hide from the eye of a judicious and enlightened scholar their historical mistakes, their novelty of language, and their other marks of imposture.
While the Bards were thus cramped in their poetical department, they had greater scope and leisure for the ftudy of heraldry, and their other domestic duties. Every great man had under his roof and patronage some eminent Bard, who, at his death, composed, on the subject of his defcent, his dignities, and the actions of his life, a funeral poem, which was solemnly recited by a Datceiniad in the presence of his surviving relations "3. Hence it has happened that pedigrees are so well preserved in Wales.
By the insurrection, however, in the reign of Henry IV. the martial spirit of the Awen, or Welsh Muse was revived, to celebrate the heroic enterprises of the brave Owen Glyndwr 14. Like him, the Bards of his time were “irregular and wild :" and as'the taper glimmering in its socket gives a sudden blaze before it is extinguished, so did they make one bright effort of their original and daring genius, which was then loft and buried for ever with their hero in the grave. Yet though Poetry flourished, Learning suffered: for such was the undistinguishing fury of that celebrated partisan, and his enemies, against the monasteries that withstood them, that not only their cells, but also their libraries and MSS. were destroyed 's.
The following Ode to Owain Glyndwr, by his favourite Bard, Sir Gruffydd Llwyd, happily transfused into English verse by Mr. Williams, of Vron“, claims a distinguished place in this history, for the genius of the author, and the skill of the translator.
” Mich. Drayton, by the communications of his friend, Mr. Tour in Wales, Vol. I. p. 325. 330. John Williams, was extremely well informed respecting the
16 Pennant's Tour, p. 311. Bards, and their institutions: and bis accurate knowledge is " Owain Glyndwr, descended from the ancient race of conveyed in the Polyolbion in the most elegant and spirited British prirces, first appeared in arms against Henry IV. in poetry. I find by his monument in Westminster Abbey, that the year 1400. He directed his attack against the lands of Michael Drayton died A.D. 1631.
his enemy Lord Grey, and immediately recovered what he 13 Differtatio de Bardis, p. 92.
had unjustly been dispossessed of by him, and soon after caused 14 Oren's Memoirs of Owain Glyndwr, 4to. Lond. 1775, and himself to be proclaimed Prince of Wales. His chief Bard, Pennant's Tour in Wales, p. 302, &c. The liberality and ex. Gruffydd Llwyd regretting his absence, chants his praise, and ploits of this daring chief are celebrated in the most animated predicts the fuccess of the war in a Cywydd, or Ode, which Itrains by that famous and learned Bard, lolo Gôcb.
is elegantly versified from the Welsh by the Rev. Mr. Williams, ! Evans's Specimens of Welsh Poetty, p. 160. Pennant's of Vro.
Ner mawlair naw rym milwr,
But leave me not, illustrious lord !
Are ill exchang'd for scenes of war,
Though Henry calls thee from afar.
While with remorse, regret, and woe,
The golden beam depart.
Wild with despair, and woe.begone,
My inward anguish speak;
Down Gruffydd's furrow'd cheek?
Yet of a gentle heart possess’d,
4. Daroganawdd drymlawdd dro,
Still with good omens may'st thou fight, Duw a dyn, o doid yno ;
And do thy injur'd country right ! Venaid, uwch Dyvrdwy Vaenawr,
Like great Pendragon "' fhalt thou foar, Vy Nér vwrw llawer r's llawr.
Who bad the din of battle roar, Dewin, os mi'r dywawd,
What time his vengeful steel he drew Van yma gyvrwyddav gwawd.
His brother's grandeur to renew, 18 The omen alluded to was a ftar, and fiery dragon ; which, according to the interpretation of Merddyn, predi&ted the reign of Uthur, afterwards surnamed Pendragon, from having caused two golden Dragons to be made, one of which he presented to the cathedral of Winchester, the other he carried along with him in his wars; or, what is more likely, wore it by way of a crest on his helmet. His lon Arthur adopted the fame. See Jeffrey of Monmouth, p. 254.257. 283.
And vindicate his wrongs ;
Yon moss-grown fount, beside;
The waters' scaly pride,
How terrible thy afhen spear,
Yon hostile towers beneath!
The harbinger of death.
6. Brawd unweithred i'th edir, Barn hóft, i vab Urien hir. Gwelai bawb draw oʻth law lán, Gwiw vawldaith, gwaew gavaeldan, Pan oedd drymav dy lavur, Draw, yn ymwriaw ar mur, Torres dy onnen gennyd, Tirion grair, taer yn y gryd : Dewr ffon, dur oedd ei phen, Dros garr yn dair ysgyren.
7. Hyd ddydd brawd medd dy wawdydd, Hanwyd o veilch, bynod vydd, Dy lavn glwys dau-viniog glain ; Hel brwydr, da hwyli Brydain ; Wrth dorri brisg a'th wisg wen, A'th ruthr i'r maes, d'th rethren. Peraist vy nav o'tb lavur Byd mellt rhwng y dellt a'r dur.
ODE ON OWEN; AND OF THE BARD DAVYDD AB GWILYM.
Loud Fame has told thy gallant deeds,
And every excellence belongs
Success, and victory are thine,
Owain Glyndwrdwy divine !
Though heroic Poetry was afterwards no more attempted in Wales, a long series of Bards succeeded, who by their elegies and odes have made their names memorable to ages. Among these Davydd ab Gwilym', the Welsh Ovid, possesses a deserved pre-eminence. He often adds the sublime to the beautiful; of which his Cywydd y Daran?. or Ode of the Thunder, is a noble proof. It is the picture of a well-chosen scene, admirably varied : it opens with placid ideas, and rural images ; a lovely maiden, and a delightful prospect : then succeeds a sudden and tremendous change of the elements; the beauties of nature overshadowed and concealed; the terror of animals, and the shrieks of the fair.one. A thousand instances of similar excellence might be produced from the writings of this elegant Bard, and his contemporaries. Let those who complain, that by the present scarcity of works of genius, they are reduced to bestow on Horace, Pindar, and Gray, a tenth perufal, explore the buried treasures of Welsh Poetry, and their search will be rewarded with new sources of pleasure, and new beauties of language and fancy.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
• The feal of Owain Glyndwr, as described in a MS. was,
makes them peculiar to him, and Virgil, and says, that no other the effigy of Owain sitting in a chair of state, holding a scepter poet ever reached this point of art. in his right hand, and a globe in his left ; and by his side were “ Davydd ab Gwilym, if I mistake not, has also a strong claim three lions, two and one : on the other side, he is represented to this excellency. You must either allow of the atomical phion horseback
lofophy; or that, copying nature by its own light, he intended ' Davydd ab Gwilym, flourished about the year 1370... All his Cywydd y Daran should found what it really is -a descrip; this Bard's poems are published in an octavo volume, with an tion of thunder and lightning, though in his love poems, and account of his life, in English. The title is, Barddoniaeth other soft subjects (of which I have now by me near a hunDavydd ab Gwilym; and fold by Williams, Bookseller, in the dred), he is as smooth, and glides as easy, as an Italian song. Strand.
“Let those who are not over partial to the school languages, · The Ode of the Thunder is in p. 20. of Davydd ab Gwi. and are proper judges of ours, compare this poem in its lym's Works. For the following remarks I am obliged to that sounds, and the loftiness of its metaphors, with the best parexcellent Welsh critic, the late Mr. Lewis Morris. " Mr. Pope, fages of this kind in the above authors; and I doubt not but in his Preface to the Iliad, enumerating Homer's excellencies, they will deem this boldness of comparison excusable, let Homer's pest to his boundless invention places his imitative sounds, and character be ever fo facred." Tiyfau 'r hen oefoedelo