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than the earliest to which another may have assigned it.

In some songs which have lately come under my hands, and which were written in the old English speech of the Strongbow colony, in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, in the county of Wexford, Ireland, I have found a case-not unworthy of thought in the rating of the age of an unwritten poem which may have come down from tongue to ear through more or fewer generations, as it would show that the presence in a poem of a word of late form, or use, does not needfully prove that the poem was not written before the common use of such a word.

Some of the songs were written down about forty years ago, from the lips of an old man, Lett Sealy; and in the following year corrections of the versions were taken from the voice of another man, Toby Butler. Now, these corrections were the restorations of a few old Forth words for modern English ones, which, with the train of singers through whom the song had come to Sealy, had taken their places.

said Sealy;

"Thae priesth,"

"A priesth,"

said Toby Butler.

"So when aul was ower,"

said one of them;

"So fan aul was ower,"

said the other.

"Each man took his laave,"

said Lett;

"Earch man took his laave,"

said Toby.

The words a, fan, and earch, were the old Forth words for the later English ones, the, when, and each; so that, after all, the song was written, not in the later time of the use of the modern words, but in the earlier time of the use of the older words, which old Toby Butler put in, by correction of the wording. This case may afford a hint that, although the poems which have

come down to us as the writings of Myrddin, or Merlin, may not be wholly the true words or strains of his song. yet he did leave a body of verse. into which may have slipped a few newer words or verses; for, as it was deemed to be prophetic, rather than historical, so it was handled through the run of time as that which belonged to any point of it. This case of the Forth poems shows also the good of the wordlocks, since these infoisted words could not have kept their place unless they had been of the same length as were the output ones.


The use of the word-locks of rhyme, both clipping-rhyme and voice-rhyme, may be sometimes found in the forms of words belonging to the laws or ceremonies of tribes, who might have first used them in their bookless times. So, in an old Saxon-English law-form for the sale of land, the seller words it that he thenceforth holds a right neither in 'plot nê ploh ; nê turf nê toft; nê furh "no fôtmael; nê land nê laesse; nê "fersc nê mersc; nê ruh nê rûm; nê "sandes nô strandes : "-neither in plot nor ploughland; nor turf nor toft; nor furrow nor foot-track; nor land nor leasow; nor freshet nor marsh; nor rough nor wide; nor sand nor strand: with the words bound in pairs, some by clippings and others by voice-rhymes.

In rating the quality of bardic or other old poetry, and especially poetry of a bookless race, we should bear in mind what was the aim of the poem under thought: whether it was one of history, in a form of words for the memory; or one of passion, in winged words for the heart. If we take some of the historical triplets of the Welsh which tell the places of warriors' graves, we must not think that they should burn with passion, or charm us with fine imagery. Even the metre and rhyme may be given no less as a help to the memory than as a sweetness for the ear; and the poet can relieve the flatness of such historical truths, as Homer did the roll of his ships or leaders, only with a few epithets.

After a late Welsh Eistedd'vod, some

little merriment was made for the English readers of one of our daily prints, at the badness of a Welsh poem which had won a prize, and which was presented to them in an English version. I have not seen the Welsh poem, but I was not sure that it was as bad as was its so-called version. An English version of a poem in another speech would be better or worse, or more or less worthy of a good original, as the translator might write with a full knowledge of the foreign speech, and with awen (genius) and good will; or with either knowledge, genius, or good will singly, without the other two fitnesses; or with any two without the third; or with neither of the three: though a man without a good will, or with an evil will to make the worst version that could be formed within the meaning of the words, would never win a poet much honour out of his own speech. Man after man has given us, with a good will, as well as more or less genius and knowledge, English strains for the lofty ones of Homer; and yet how many of them have brought over all the grace of his wording and music and thought? But Welsh poetry, with the rhyme and cynghan'edd of that ready-rhyming tongue, is even more hard to bring fully into English verse. Homer himself, however, sometimes dozes, and Dryden was bold enough to pour out more wrath than music on the smallpox. In a poem on the death, from smallpox, of Lord Hastings, he asks:

"Was there no milder way than the smallpox, The very filthiness of Pandora's box ?" Again, Ovid writes

"Sulmo, mihi patria, est gelidis uberrimus undis,

Millia qui nonies distat ab urbe decem;"

and Heylin the geographer gives it as :

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"Fly from Olinda, young and fair,
Fly from her soft engaging air,
All wit, in woman found so rare ;
Although her looks to love advise,
Her yet unconquered heart denies,

And breaks the promise of her eyes."

The form of the warriors' triplet is that of the historical "Verses of the Graves" (Englynion y Beddau) of about two hundred heroes of early times, down to the seventh century. These memorials of the great run in this strain :-

"Whose rest is this four-cornered bed? Two stones at feet and two at head. The furious Madoc here is laid." Another is on Cynddyl'an, on whose death Llywarch wrote an elegy :"After wounds of bloody fight,

And trappings worn on steeds of white, Cynddylan's grave is here in sight." Another is on a hero called by the not uncommon name of "Tarw Trîn," the "Bull of Battle:".

"Whose grave on yonder cliff is seen?
His hand to foes a foe has been.
Be mercy on him, Tarw Trîn."

The three great British bards of the olden time whose works are come down with their names to our days are— —Llywarch (High-ruler), usually called Llywarch Hên (Llywarch the Old); Taliesin (Bright-forehead or Bright-face); and Aneurin.

Llywarch Hên, son of Elidyr Llydanwyn, of the Vale of Clyde, was by birth a prince of the North British Cymri, who have left their name in Cumberland, though they held the lands from Cumberland to the Picts' Wall. He was driven into Wales by the inroads of the Saxon

English; and he lost some of his many sons in the struggles of the Britons for their land. He withdrew with some of his sons to the friendly dominions of Cynddyl'an, Prince of Powis, and dwelt for a time in a cottage at Aber Cuawg, now Dôl Giog, in Montgomeryshire; but it is thought that he ended his great length of days in a place called Pabell Llywarch Hen (The Tent of Llywarch Hên), at Llanvawr, near Bala, at the church of which parish he was buried.

A triad makes him to have been one of the three main counsellors of King Arthur; whom another makes him to have left, as one of the three discontented guests of his court; and by a third triad he is called one of the three disinterested princes of Britain, though he was a bard only by awen (genius), and was not bred up as a fellow of the bardic body, of whose rules his war-waging life was a strong violation.

One of the poems of Llywarch Hên is on the death of Geraint ab Erbin (Geraint, the son of Erbin), a kingling of Cornwall, who was slain in the battle between the British and English at Llongborth. This answers well to the battle of Portesmutha (Portsmouth) of the Saxon Chronicle, which tells that there was slain a young Briton of high nobility; for Llongborth means Portesmutha, or the mouth or opening of the haven.

The poem is in the measure of the "warriors' triplet." It has seventeen verses in praise of Geraint; all but five of them beginning with the words, "Yn Llongborth:" and it ends with nine verses in praise of his horses, beginning with the words, "Oedd re redaint" (They were swift). The Llongborth verses are of this form :

"In Llongborth saw I strife begun,

With men to rage, and blood to run Before Geraint, his sire's great son. "At Llongborth saw I warriors led

To onsets, with their feet blood-red :
'Who helps Geraint, haste on ahead!'
"Before Geraint, the foemen's dread,

I saw the steeds with foam bespread,
And then a shout, and then the dead.

"In Llongborth were to Arthur slain His brave steelwielders of his reign, The lord and wielder of the train."

The verses of the horses are of this form :

"The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, Of lofty hams, on barley fed; As brushfire on the hills they sped. "The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, Of lofty hams, with grain high fed, And bay; as eagles bold they sped. "The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, High-hammed, with grain in highest plight, All bay, and swift as eagles white. "The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, Of lofty hams, with grain well fed, And bay, as swift as eagles red. "The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, High-hammed, and with their grain full gay,

And bay, as swift as eagles gray.

"The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, High-hammed, and wheat-fed, sleek of hide,

And bay, as swift as eagles pied. "The steeds were fleet, Geraint's high seat, Of lofty hams, with grain supplied, And gray, with manes in silver tied."

The taking up of a hinge-word at the beginning of each triplet of a strain belongs, in a way, to the supposed poetic grace, called in bardic lore "Cymmeriad," or Resumption; though cymme riad is mostly that of the same or like clippings or sounds in successive verses.

Southey, in his notes to his “Sir Thomas More," has observed that the general strain of the poems of Llywarch is as melancholy as it is rude. Upon what knowledge of the Welsh and the forms of the poems he found them rude I know not, as I take to be rude that which is unshapen or ill-formed. But Llywarch's verses are of so very true a measure and rhyme that, with their cymmeriad, besides their many pretty word-settings, which cannot well be brought into English, I should call them of severe form rather than rude. Llywarch's treatment of his subject, it is true, differs much from that with which an English poet would now handle it; but this does not itself make his verses rude, unless there was never a good school of poetry but that of our days.

Llywarch has left some satirical triplets on a coward of the name of Maenwyn, who was steward (maer) to Maelgwn, who, as are we are told by Gildas, his contemporary, was King of Wales from about 534 to 550. Llywarch sings to Maenwyn :


Maenwyn, when I in thy youth woke, Men would not trample on my cloak, Nor plough my land, without a stroke. "Maenwyn, when I, like thee, was found In youthful bloom, all body-sound,

The stranger would not break my bound."

Another poem of Llywarch is on the death of Urien, prince of Reghed (about Cumberland), who gathered his men together against the Saxons under Ida, and was at last assassinated, from some hatred, by a man of the Scots, his allies, of the name of Llovan, afterwards called Llovan Llawdivro, "Llovan of the fleeinghand," or the outlaw. Llywarch was the war-mate of Urien; and his elegy is in five strains, of verses in the form of the warriors' triplet. The first is of the vengeance for the deed of the wicked hand; and the next is on the head of Urien, as borne away home by the warrior bard. Each of its triplets begins with the words, "Pen a borthav" (I bear a head), as :— "I bear a head from Pennoe's beach;

Far and wide his warfares reach ; Urien, famed, and sweet of speech. "I bear upon my arm a head,

He in the land of Brynaich1 sped. Steeds after battle draw the dead. "Still's the gale, once loud with song; To few will praises now belong, Since Urien heads no more his throng. "A head upon my left I bear;

Better his life, than mead, to share, The shield of helpless eld's grey hair.” Then follows a strain on the burial

of Urien, in three triplets beginning with "Y gelain veinwen" (His fair body). Then he touches on the grief of Urien's brother and sister, and, after other strains, ends with one on the sad sight of the weather-beaten hearth of Urien's fallen house. The triplets of this strain all hinge on the words "Yr aelwyd hon" (This hearth).

1 Brynaich, the hilly land; from Bryn, a hill. Bernicia.

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against the Britons, and they slew "three kings, Comail and Condidan and "Farinmail, at a place which is called "Deorham, and took from them three "cities-Gloucester and Cirencester and "Bath." It would seen from other Welsh writings, and the poem of Llywarch Hên, that the name Condidan stands in the Saxon Chronicle,-by some writer's or reader's change of into d,for Condil'an or Cynddyl'an.

Llywarch Hên makes Cynddyl'an's palace to be at Pengwern (the head of the flat land), which, as is thought, is near Shrewsbury. He defended Tren, a town by a stream of that name, and, as its name would seem to show, a swift or much-flooded stream, and it may be the Tern. His place was by a slope (rhiw) near a height (pen), and not far from the rock of Hydwyrth, which would mean 66 channel-side," or "longchannel."


For the "Farinmail" of the Saxon Chronicle, Llywarch Hên gives "Caran'mael" as the war-mate of Cynddylan. Cynddyl'an and Caran'mael are likely than the two names of the Saxon Chronicle to be the true names of Britons, as they are of likely British form and meaning. Cynddyl'yn, or Cynddel'yn, would mean the Pattern, or paragon, and Caran'mael would mean the Head-iron or helmet; and it may be observed that the stem, mael, for iron, and mail, comes into many words of trading and gain, and might have been taken in a trade-meaning in a time of iron ring-money, such as that of which we are told by Cæsar.

Among the epithets bestowed on his hero by Llywarch Hên are "calongoddaeth" (brushfire-hearted, with a heart as eager as the brushfire on the land); calon-milgi" (greyhoundhearted); "calon-hebawg (hawkhearted); "gwydd-hwch (wildboarhearted). A token of the early age of


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The poem on Cynddyl'an is of many strains, each of which is of more or fewer triplets on the same head; as on the hero, on his fallen palace, or on Pengwern, the field of battle and almost every triplet begins with a cymmeriad (resumption) of the same word or thought, as a verse-head. The triplets on Cynddyl'an begin with his name, and those on his hall begin with "The Hall of Cynddylan," "Ystavell Cynddyl'an." The strain on the hall of Cynddyl'an is of triplets of a very sad cast :— "Cynddyl'an's hall is all in gloom-to-night;

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No fire, no lighted room :

Amid the stillness of a tomb.

'Cynddyl'an's hall is left alone-to-night : A hall with none to own.

O Death, take me where he is flown.

Cynddyl'an's hall is now unblest-to-night; On Hydwyrth's rocky crest

No lord is there, no meal, no guest.

." Cynddyl'an's hall! It makes me wan To see cold hearths, and roofing gone. My lord is dead, and I live on!

Cynddyl'an's hall is sad within-to-night; For sons of Cyndrwyn,

Cynon, Gwion, and Gwyn."

One of the triplets of the poem names Brocmael, Prince of Powys, who fought

with Ethelred, King of Northumberland, at the battle of Chester; and, in a verse on the churches, the bard says:"The churches of Bassa are enriched-tonight;

My tongue has done it ;"

thinking, it may be, that his war-song, in the field, had sent the Britons to slaughter; for, as late as the time of Hoel Dda, the bard had to go into the battle-field ahead of the men, singing the national song

"Unbenaeth Brydain "

(The monarchy of Britain). A triplet on "Y Tref Wen," The Fair Town (of Cynddyl'an's people), shows how many struggles there were between Britons and Saxon foes; for he says that it was there as usual to behold the broken shield brought back, as to see the ox come home in the evening.

Heledd, a sister of Cynddyl'an, is made to bewail the loss of three brothers. She says, in a triplet,

"At once I mourned three brothers' fall-
Cynan, Cynddyl'an, Cynvraith-all
In guarding Tren's now wasted wall.”

Another triplet is—

"Thin the gale, the rumour loud;

Sweet the ridge that lost ones ploughed :
Those that now the graves enshroud."

The triplets upon Caran'mael show that he was very brave, and the son of Cynddylan, and that he was childless, and the last of the line of Cyndrwyn:— "Caran'mael, in the strife not slow,

Cynddyl'an's son, whom all men know,
Of no weak old man was his blow."

Cyndrwyn had many daughters, some of whom are commemorated in triplets of Llywarch's poem :

"There once were fair, to sons of men, The daughters dear of CyndrwynHeledd, Gwlad'us, and Gwenddwyn.”

Cynddyl'an is made to say of three


"I sisters had, and loved them well;

To lose them all it me befell

Freuer, Meddlan, Meddwyl."

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