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Sisters to me were born and bred,
Llywarch's song of the "Cuckoo" in the vale of Cuawg, in Montgomeryshire, where he lived in his later years, may be taken as a fellow poem with the ode on "Old Age, and the Loss of his Sons." It seems to have been written on hearing the cuckoo, when he was low in health and mind from years and sorrow, and when he could say
"Short now is my way,
And my dwelling decayed." The words "my dwelling" (vy nhyddyn) may mean his body, or earthly tabernacle, though we may believe that the "tyddyn" of the poor fallen man at Aber Cuawg was not over trim.
His complainings, at places, have somewhat of the tone of those of Job. He says, in one of his triplets :
"At May-day, when the flowers are bright,
He has woven into his triplets a few proverbs, such as :
And oh! the best of all my sons was Gwen. "The sons I had were four and twice-told ten,
And all with golden torque, and princely men,
But all were striplings by the side of Gwen. "Twice twelve sons bore Llywarch's name, Men full bold, unstained by shame,
Quick their march, and great their fame."
It may be seen that the above-quoted triplets have a special form. In that which begins with a cymmeriad in the words "Cynddyl'an's Hall," ("Ystavell Cynddyl'an,") and others, each takes after the first measure of the first line the word "to-night" (heno); and thus the triplet shows the beginning of the form of verse called the Englyn, which is the form of the Welsh epigram. The uptaking of a standing word, as of heno, at the end of the first measure, is found in a poem of triplets of "The Warrior in Distress," of which the manuscript is in University College, Cambridge, whither Villemarqué went to see it. He says of it that it is impossible to overrate its importance.
The Englyn is a verse of four lines, with four fellow-rhymes; or of a long measure (invented by Taliesin), followed by two lines of fellow-rhymes. It is of
several forms; sometimes of four lines of even measure, though a more skilful, and not less common, form has the first line of ten syllables, the next of six, and the other two of seven. The first two lines, called the shaft (paladr), as of an arrow, has in it a rhyme-point for the other lines, and, beyond the rhymepoint, two or four syllables ending with the so-called "cyrch" or mid-point word, as is the word "heno" (to-night) in the triplets of Llywarch. The following has the form of an Euglyn, and gives nearly the substance of an Englyn of late times, on a "Yellow Greyhound:"
"Hound yellow, light of tread-the cunning foe
Of deer bedappled red;
He of the wind1 gets not ahead,
The two lines down to "red" are the shaft, and the other two are the head or wings, "esgyll" (feathers), as of the arrow. Here "tread" is the main-word to which the other lines rhyme. Sometimes the cyrch-word is answered by a rhyme in the next line, and the Englyn becomes the cyrch-rhyme verse, as the following Englyn on Home :
"Whatever land I pace-wherever find
Bright is the service-tree; the old
Are care-sought, (as) by bees the wold;* 'Tis God alone will vengeance hold.
'Bright are the gorse-blooms: make thy friend
The wise, nor to the fool attend :
As by the symbolism of Freemasonry every tool of the mason hinted a good thought, so, in the verse-bond of the moral truth to the natural object, the Briton found a repetition of a good teaching in his footsteps over the ground.
Some triplets, which have been imputed to Llywarch Hên, " Y Gwiail" (The Saplings, or Boughs) are called by Jones, in his "Relics of the Welsh Bards," Druidical verses; and Druidical, or of the time of the Druids, some such may be, though I do not think that they hold any Druid mystery. Three of them begin with "Marchwiai bedw briglâs."
"O birch-tree twig, so greenly fair,
Draw out my foot from this my snare: Let not thy man thy secret share. "O sapling of the oak-tree shade, Draw out my feet, by chains downweighed:
Tell not thy secret to thy maid.
1 Necessity hath no law.
2 Cares settle on the old as naturally as bees on wild flowers.
3 Or, knows how all things will end.
The writer of "A Summer Ramble in the Himalayas" writes of the Puharee poetry :-"The first line in each couplet "has no meaning in connexion with the "song-being only to rhyme to. This is "the general system of the rude Puharee "poetry. The idea they wish to express "is made to rhyme to a sentence having "no connexion at all with it." This may be true as well of such bardic verses as we have last given; for, while I seem to see the bearing, which some others have not seen, of some first lines to the others in some Welsh triplets, I do not see such bearings in all of them. But it does not therefore follow that there never were any such bearings. A cricketer may sing a couplet of his bat
"The willow by the water grows:
and a man of a thousand years hence, not knowing that the word willow had been a fancy name for a cricket-bat, might not perceive any connexion between a willow-tree and the bat-blows.
A set of proverbial Englynion show a cymmeriad, or resumption, of the word gnawd (it is usual) at the beginning of each line. It is usual, say the verses, that such and such things should happen in the outer world, and so usual that so-and-so should happen with man.
The cymmeriad of another set of verses is bid (let be). Among the verses of Llywarch are some on the "Calangauav," or, the First Day of the Winter, answering to our All Saints' Day. Each of the triplets begins with Calangauav;" and they show that at that time of year the plough was in the furrow and the ox at work, and that it was the time when the herdsmen left the havdy or havod (summer-hut) on the hills, and came down to the hendrev (or old house) in the plain.
"Let swineherds smile to hear the moan1
Of winds: be love to meekness shown: The mischievous shall be o'erthrown. "Let knights be seen, and thieves let cower : A girl may be deceived through dower : Bad shepherds give the wolf his
1 Because they blow down the mast for him.
"Let bark the cubs; let sting the snakes: The ford is swum beside the stakes: Adultery a robbery makes."
I am so bold as to take this line otherwise than both Owen and Villemarqué :—
"Bid noviaw rhyd wrth beleidyr." Owen makes it "In passing a ford with spears, let there be swimming," though one cannot readily perceive why men with spears, any more than men without them, should swim over a river. Villemarqué makes it, "Qu'on passe le gué à la nage, malgré les lances" (Let men swim over the ford notwithstanding the spears)-of foes on the other side. But the line, as is shown by its proverbial fellows, tells not of what should be done, but of what is known, by observation, to happen. Paladr, plural pelydr, means a beam, shaft, or stake, and the haft of a spear; but here it may mean stakes driven in a line over the fords to mark the good footing at the shallow water. If this is the true reading, and the stake-fords were known to the early English settlers, it may be a clue to the name of so many English places: Stafford, as the Staefford, or Stakeford. I do not know that the word novio (to swim) was ever used for wading, but Herodian had understood that the Britons were much wont to swim or wade through water.
Aneurin was brother of Gildas Alba
nius, the British historian, and lived under the patronage of Mynyddawg, prince of Edinburgh. He was himself a chief of the Britons of Gododin (the Otodeni), and one of the greatest bards
of his time.
The "Gododin" of Aneurin is written on a battle between the North Britons and the Saxon-English, under a leader called by Aneurin "Ffamddwyn" (or, The Flame-bearer). The battle seems to have happened at a gathering of the Britons at a yearly feast, and at a place called Cattraeth, or Caltraeth-which word traeth means a strand or sand-beach; and it was by the sea in the land called
Godod'in, or Gotod'in, the land of the Otadeni, or Gotadeni of Ptolemy, reaching from about Newcastle to Edinburgh. It was fought near the Roman Wall, which reached from the mouth of the Forth to that of the Clyde, and which, at Caltraeth, was then a mound with a line of stakes. This wall passed by a river, the Calder, which it is thought gave the name of "Cal-traeth" (The strand of the Caldr) to the place of the fight. The tribes on the foe side were the Angles and the Scots, who had become their allies, under a leader, Domnal Brech (or Domnal the Variegated or Pied Man)-the tattooed man, as Villemarqué takes it, but, as I think, the plaided, and so striped or variegated,
The battle of Caltraeth seems to have been fought after that of Llongborth, which was sung by Llywarch Hên: since some of the wielders of the sword at Caltraeth were the later kindred of the heroes of Llywarch; and since Aneurin curses a woman (Bun) whom he calls the fair traitress, who is said by a triad to be one of the three shameless women of Britain, and to have wedded Ida the Saxon. So the battle has been referred to the time of Ida's son.
Although Aneurin was not very much later than Llywarch, yet his form of verse, either as that of his own mind or that of a new school of poetry, differs from that of the old bard. Llywarch wrote mostly in the triplet and Englyn form of verse; whereas Aneurin writes mostly in awdlau, or free sets of lines of one rhyme. Of his hero Owen he gives a verse of the form and meaning:
The shield he bore, though light, yet wide,
He gives two strains of verses of eight one-rhymed lines, and of the former strain each verse begins with the words "Calawe Cynhorawe" (The Wreathed or Crowned Leader). A couplet says of the Bernicians
"O house of Brynaich, were you judged by
One shadow of a man you would not see."
“A minnau Daliesin, o lan Llyn Geirion’ydd.” (And I am Taliesin, of the place Llyn Geirion'ydd.)
He is said, in the book of Welsh verse-lore, to have invented five new metres. One of these is the toddlaid (or melting metre), which has been often used as a melting or rallentando movement for the end of a stanza. It is of two lines, mostly of ten or eight, and of nine or eight, syllables. The first line has a rhyme-syllable (1) within it, and another rhyme syllable (2) at its end; while the other line rhymes to the former syllable at the end (1), and the latter in the middle (2); thus:
"Where'er the battle-horn may call, (1) to wield (2)
Deadly spear or shield, (2) they stay or fall" (1).
A poem of Taliesin's is on the Battle of Argoed Llwyfyn-a battle fought between the North Britons of the Clyde Vale, under Urien, and the Saxons under Flamddwyn, or Ida:
"The battle lasted from the opening light
On Godeu and on Reghed for the fight."
"No, till my weakness drops the pen,
In the same kind of verse he sings the glory Urien had won in another battle at Gwen Estrad, and he honours him as a "Baptized Ruler" (Rwyvbedydd), unlike the heathen Saxons.
Taliesin sings in sundry changes of verse as respects the length both of the lines and verses. One of his poems has a string of couplets of this form:
"If a groan is in the glade,
Of Owen, the brave son of Urien, he sings in another form of verse:
"Of foes the mower dire,
Worthy his sire;
Fflamddwyn found no shield withstand
But, smitten, died."
That these bardic poems are trustworthy as writings of the sixth century is strongly shown by their many points of coincidence with other writings, Saxon and British, and with the truths of ancient and modern geography, as well as with each other. Touching as they do, for example, in sundry places on the "tan y goddaeth" (or brushwood fire of spring), they must, I think, have been written when the kindling of the fire was a usual practice; they must have been written while yet the golden torque was the badge of the prince and noble, and when the Britons were Christians, and the Saxons were as yet heathen; and, though Welsh may have changed within a thousand years much less than the English, the language of the old bards, as that of the Gododin, differs widely enough from the Welsh of our days to show itself some hundreds of years older.
ESSAYS AT ODD TIMES.
BY ROBERT HAYNES CAVE, M.A.
XVI. OF MEN WHOM THE WORLD
ONE morning, taking counsel with myself, I sallied forth for a "constitutional walk after an autumnal nor'-west gale of two days' continuance had nearly spent its fury. Shut up in the house for those two days, I had occupied myself in following the life of a man who may be taken as the representative of a class sadly too common; men who are loved by their fellow-men, and are in everyway loveable, but whose characters are marred by one fatal flaw: we may call them men of good principles and weak wills. Such men were Steele (poor Dick Steele !), Fielding, Charles Lamb, Burns, Coleridge. I but pick a hand
ful of names out of the literature of one age; but from King David's time to our own what a roll-call might not be made out of these, the "greatest, wisest, weakest of mankind!" Taking with me the remembrance of these men, of their troubled lives, and of the rich legacy of wit and thought and love which they have left to us-a remembrance to which the wild wind and the gloomy sky formed fitting adjuncts-I reached at last the end of my walk, a hill some half-a-dozen miles from home. A long stretch of fallow land, rising black with twilight hues against the western sky, shut out the horizon. Behind it the storm clouds had broken their ranks, and had drifted low down into strange fantastic forms, between which the