Two Songs – Three Poems

One of those late at night postings…

so, short and sweet!
On The Menu:

Gradam Ceoil


How Lancelot Came to the Nunnery in Search of the Queen

Cerdic And Arthur

Iarla O Lionaird – I Am Asleep
I return to the old theme, one of tribe, love, music, poetry. I hope you enjoy!

Gradam Ceoil



I. I have come to thee to tell

Of the jurisdiction I have in the North;

The beauty of every region has been described to me.
II. Since the action of Ardderyd and Erydon,

Gwendydd, and all that will happen to me,

Dull of understanding, to what place of festivity shall I go?
III. I will address my twin-brother

Myrdin, a wise man and a diviner,

Since he is accustomed to make disclosures

When a maid goes to him.
IV. I shall become the simpleton’s song:

It is the ominous belief of the Cymry. The gale intimates

That the standard of Rydderch Hael is unobstructed.
V. Though Rydderch has the pre-eminence,

And all the Cymry under him,

Yet, after him, who will come?
VI. Rydderch Hael, the feller of the foe,

Dealt his stabs among them,

In the day of bliss at the ford of Tawy.
VII. Rydderch Hael, while he is the enemy

Of the city of the bards in the region of the Clyd;

Where will he go to the ford?
VIII. I will tell it to Gwendydd.

Since she has addressed me skilfully,

The day after to-morrow Rydderch Hael will not be.
IX. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

The intrepid in battle,

After Rydderch who will be?
X. As Gwenddoleu was slain in the blood-spilling of Ardderyd,

And I have come from among the furze,

Morgant Mawr, the son of Sadyrnin.
XI. I will ask my far-famed brother,

The fosterer of song among the streams,

Who will rule after Morgant?
XII. As Gwenddoleu was slain in the bloodshed of Ardderyd,

And I wonder why I should be perceived,

The cry of the country to Urien.
XIII, Thy head is of the colour of winter boar;

God has relieved thy necessities

Who will rule after Urien?
XIV. Heaven has brought a heavy affliction

On me, and I am ill at last,

Maelgwn Hir over the land of Gwynedd.
XV. From parting with my brother pines away

My heart, poor is my aspect along my furrowed cheek;

Now, after Maelgwn, who will rule?
XVI. Run is his name impetuous in the gushing conflict;

And fighting in the van of the army,

The woe of Prydein of the day!
XVII. Since thou art a companion and canon

Of Cunllaith, which with great expense we support,

To whom will Gwynedd go after Run?
XVIII. Run his name, renowned in war;

What I predict will surely come to pass,

Gwendydd, the country will be in the hand of Beli.
XIX. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in difficulties,

Who will rule after Beli?
XX. Since my reason is gone with ghosts of the mountain,

And I myself am pensive,

After Beli, his son Iago.
XXI. Since thy reason is gone with ghosts of the mountain,

And thou thyself art pensive,

Who will rule after Iago?
XXII. He that comes before me with a lofty mien,

Moving to the social banquet;

After Iago, his son Cadvan?
XXIII. The songs have fully predicted

That one of universal fame will come;

Who will rule after Cadvan?
XXIV. The country of the brave Cadwallawn,

The four quarters of the world shall hear of it;

The heads of the Angles will fall to the ground,

And there will be a world to admire it.
XXV. Though I see thy cheek so direful,

It comes impulsively to my mind,

Who will rule after Cadwallawn?
XXVI. A tall man holding a conference,

And Prydein under one sceptre,

The best son of Cymro, Cadwaladyr.
XXVII. He that comes before me mildly,

His abilities, are they not worthless?

After Cadwaladyr, Idwal.
XXVIII. I will ask thee mildly,

Far-famed, and best of men on earth,

Who will rule after Idwal?
XXIX. There will rule after Idwal,

In consequence of a dauntless one being called forth,

White-shielded Howel, the son of Cadwal.
XXX. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

The intrepid in war,

Who will rule after Howel?
XXXI. I will tell his illustrious fame,

Gwendydd, before I part from thee;

After Howel, Rodri.
XXXII. Cynan in Mona will be,

He will not preserve his rights;

And before the son of Rodri may be called,

The son of Cealedigan will be.
XXXIII. I will ask on account of the world,

And answer thou me gently;

Who will rule after Cynan?
XXXIV. Since Gwenddoleu was slain in the bloodshed of

Ardderyd, thou art filled with dismay;

Mervyn Vrych from the region of Manaw.
XXXV. I will ask my brother renowned in fame,

Lucid his song, and he the best of men,

Who will rule after Mervyn?
XXXVI. I will declare, from no malevolence,

The oppression of. Prydein, but from concern;

After Mervyn, Rodri Mawr.
XXXVII. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in the day of the war-shout;

Who will rule after the son of Rodri Mawr?
XXXVIII. On the banks of the Conwy in the conflict of Wednesday,

Admired will be the eloquence

Of the hoary sovereign Anarawd.
XXXIX. I will address my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in the day of mockery,

Who will rule after Anarawd?
XL. The next is nearer to the time

Of unseen messengers;

The sovereignty in the band of Howel.
XLI. The Borderers have not been,

And will not be nearer to Paradise.

An order from a kiln is no worse than from a church.
XLII. I will ask my beloved brother,

Whom I have seen celebrated in fame,

Who will rule after the Borderers?
XLIII. A year and a half to loquacious

Barons, whose lives shall be shortened;

Every careless one will be disparaged.
XLIV. Since thou art a companion and canon of Cunllaith,

The mercy of God to thy soul!

Who will rule after the Barons?
XLV. A single person will arise from obscurity,

Who will not preserve his countenance;

Cynan of the dogs will possess Cymry.
XLVI. I will ask thee on account of the world,

Answer thou me gently,

Who will rule after Cynan?
XLVII. A man from a distant foreign country;

They will batter impregnable Caers

They say a king from a baron.
XLVIII. I will ask on account of the world,

Since thou knowest the meaning;

Who will rule after the Baron?
XLIX. I will foretell of Serven Wyn,

A constant white-shielded messenger,

Brave, and strong like a white encircled prison;

He will traverse the Countries of treacherous sovereigns;

And they will tremble before him as far as Prydein.
L. I will ask my blessed brother,

For it is I that is inquiring it,

Who will rule after Serven Wyn?
LI. Two white-shielded Belis

Will then come and cause tumult;

Golden peace will not be.
LII. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid among the Cymry,

Who will rule after the two white-shielded Belis?
LIII. A. single passionate one with a beneficent mien,

Counselling a battle of defence;

Who will rule before the extermination?
LIV. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in the battle,

Who is the single passionate one

That thou predictest then?

What his name? what is he? when will he come?
LV. Gruffyd his name, vehement and handsome:

It is natural that he should throw lustre on his kindred;

He will rule over the land of Prydein.
LVI. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in battles,

Who shall possess it after Gruffyd?
LVII. I will declare from no malevolence,

The oppression of Prydein, but from concern;

After Gruffyd, Gwyn Gwarther.
LVIII. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

The intrepid in war,

Who will rule after Gwyn Gwarther?
LIX. Alas! fair Gwendydd, great is the prognostication of the oracle,

And the tales of the Sybil;

Of an odious stock will be the two Idases;

For land they will be admired; from their jurisdiction, long animosity.
LX. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in the battles,

Who will rule after them?
LXI. I will predict that no youth will venture;

A king, a lion with unflinching hand,

Gylvin Gevel with a wolf’s grasp.
LXII. I will ask my profound brother,

Whom I have seen tenderly nourished,

After that who will be sovereign?
LXIII. To the multiplicity of the number of the stars

Will his retinue be compared;

He is Mackwy Dau Hanner.
LXIV. I will ask my unprotected brother,

The key of difficulty, the benefit of a lord–

Who will rule after Dan Hanner?
LXV. There will be a mixture of the Gwyddelian tongue in the battle,

With the Cymro, and a fierce conflict;

He is the lord of eight chief Caers.
LXVI. I will ask my pensive brother,

Who has read the book of Cado,

Who will rule after him?
LXVII. I say that he is from Reged,

Since I am solemnly addressed;

The whelp of the illustrious Henri,

Never in his age will there be deliverance.
LXVIII. I will ask my brother renowned in fame,

Undaunted among the Cymry,

Who will rule after the son of Henri?
LXIX. When there will be a bridge on the Tav, and another on the Tywi,

Confusion will come upon Lloegyr,

And I will predict after the son of Henri,

Such and such a king and troublous times will be.
LXX. I will ask my blessed brother,

For it is I that is inquiring,

Who will rule after such and such a king?
LXXI. A silly king will come,

And the men of Lloegyr will deceive him;

There will be no prosperity of country under him.
LXXII. Myrdin fair, of fame-conferring song,

Wrathful in the world,

What will be in the age of the foolish one?
LXXIII. When Lloegyr will be groaning,

And Cymir full of malignity,

An army will be moving to and fro.
LXXIV. Myrdin fair, gifted in speech,

Tell me no falsehood;

What will be after the army?
LXXV. There will arise one out of the six

That have long been in concealment;

Over Lloegyr he will have the mastery.
LXXVI. Myrdin fair, of fame-conferring stock,

Let the wind turn inside the house,

Who will rule after that?
LXXVII. It is established that Owein should come,

And conquer as far as London,

To give the Cymry glad tidings.
LXXVIII. Myrdin fair, most gifted and most famed,

For thy word I will believe,

Owein, how long will he continue?
LXXIX. Gwendydd, listen to a rumour,

Let the wind turn in the valley,

Five years and two, as in time of yore.
LXXX. I will ask my profound brother,

Whom I have seen tenderly nourished,

Who will thence be sovereign?
LXXXI. When Owein will be in Manaw,

And a battle in Prydyn close by,

There will be a man with men under him.
LXXXII. I will ask my profound brother,

Whom I have seen tenderly nourished,

After that who will be sovereign?
LXXXIII. A ruler of good breeding and good will he be,

Will conquer the land,

And the country will be happy with joy.
LXXXIV. I will ask my profound brother,

Whom I have seen tenderly nourished,

After that who will be sovereign?
LXXXV. Let there be a cry in the valley

Beli Hir and his men like the whirlwind;

Blessed be the Cymry, woe to the Gynt.
LXXXVI. I will ask my far-famed twin-brother,

Intrepid in battles,

After Beli who will be the possessor?
LXXXVII. Let there be a cry in the Aber,

Beli Hir and his numerous troops;

Blessed be the Cymry, woe to the Gwyddyl.
LXXXVIII. I will address my farfamed twin-brother

Intrepid in war;

Why woe to the Gwyddyl?
LXXXIX. I will predict that one prince will be

Of Gwynedd, after your affliction;

You will have a victory over every nation.
XC. The canon of Morvryn, how united to us

Was Myrdin Vrych with the powerful host,

What will happen until the wish be accomplished?
XCI. When Cadwaladyr will descend,

Having a large united host with him,

On Wednesday to defend the men of Gwynedd,

Then will come the men of Caer Garawedd.
XCII. Do not separate abruptly from me,

From a dislike to the conference;

In what part will Cadwaladyr descend?
XCIII. When Cadwaladyr descends

Into the valley of the Tywi,

Hard pressed will be the Abers

And the Brython will disperse the Brithwyr.
XCIV. I will ask my profound brother,

Whom I have seen tenderly nourished;

Who will rule from thenceforth?
XCV. When a boor will know three languages

In Mona, and his son be of honourable descent,

Gwynedd will be heard to be abounding in riches.
XCVI. Who will drive Lloegyr from the borders

Of the sea, who will move upon Dyved?

And as to the Cymry, who will succour them?
XCVII. The far-extended rout and tumult of Rydderch,

And the armies of Cadwaladyr,

Above the river Tardennin,

Broke the key of men.
XCVIII. Do not separate abruptly from me,

From dislike to the conference,

What death will carry off Cadwaladyr?
XCIX. He will be pierced by a spear from the strong timber

Of a ship, and a hand before the evening;

The day will be a disgrace to the Cymry.
C. Do not separate abruptly from me

From dislike to the conference,

How long will Cadwaladyr reign?
CI. Three months and three long years,

And full three hundred years

With occasional battles, he will rule.
CII. Do not separate abruptly from me

From dislike to the conference,

Who will rule after Cadwaladyr?
CIII. To Gwendydd I will declare;

Age after age I will predict;

After Cadwaladyr, Cynda.
CIV. A hand upon the sword, another upon the cross,

Let every one take care of his life;

With Cyndav there is no reconciliation.
CV. I will foretell that there will be one prince

Of Gwynedd, after your affliction,

You will overcome every nation.
CVI. And as to the tribe of the children of Adam,

Who have proceeded from his flesh,

Will their freedom extend to the judgment?
CVII. From the time the Cymry shall be without the aid

Of battle, and altogether without keeping their mien,

It will be impossible to say who will be ruler.
CVIII. Gwendydd, the delicately fair,

The first will be the most puissant in Prydein;

Lament, ye wretched Cymry!
CIX. When extermination becomes the highest duty,

From the sea to the shoreless land,

Say, lady, that the world is at an end.
CX. And after extermination becomes the highest duty,

Who will there be to keep order?

Will there be a church, and a portion for a priest?
CXI. There will be no portion for priest nor minstrel,

Nor repairing to the altar,

Until the heaven falls to the earth.
CXII. My twin-brother, since thou hast answered me,

Myrdin, son of Morvryn the skilful,

Sad is the tale thou hast uttered.
CXIII. I will declare to Gwendydd,

For seriously hast thou inquired of me,

Extermination, lady, will be the end.
CXIV. What I have hitherto predicted

To Gwendydd, the idol of princes.

It will come to pass to the smallest tittle.
CXV. Twin-brother, since these things will happen to me,

Even for the souls of thy brethren,

What sovereign after him will be?
CXVI. Gwendydd fair, the chief of courtesy,

I will seriously declare,

That never shall be a sovereign afterwards.
CXVII. Alas I thou dearest, for the cold separation,

After the coming of tumult,

That by a sovereign brave and fearless

Thou shouldst be placed under earth.
CXVIII. The air of heaven will scatter

Rash resolution, which deceives, if believed:

Prosperity until the judgment is certain.
CXIX. By thy dissolution, thou tenderly nourished,

Am I not left cheerless?

A delay will be good destiny when will be given

Praise to him who tells the truth.
CXX. From thy retreat arise, and unfold

The books of Awen without fear;

And the discourse of a maid, and the repose of a dream.
CXXI. Dead is Morgeneu, dead Cyvrennin

Moryal. Dead is Moryen, the bulwark of battle;

The heaviest grief is, Myrdin, for thy destiny.
CXXII. The Creator has caused me heavy affliction;

Dead is Morgeneu, dead is Mordav,

Dead is Moryen, I wish to die.
CXXIII. My only brother, chide me not;

Since the battle of Ardderyd I am ill;

It is instruction that I seek;

To God I commend thee.
CXXIV. I, also, commend thee,

To the, Chief of all creatures

Gwendydd fair, the refuge of songs.
CXXV. The songs too long have tarried

Concerning universal fame to come;

Would to God they had come to pass!
CXXVI. Gwendydd, be not dissatisfied;

Has not the burden been consigned to the earth?

Every one must give up what he loves.
CXXVII. While I live, I will not forsake thee,

And until the judgment will bear thee in mind;

Thy entrenchment is the heaviest calamity.
CXXVIII. Swift is the steed, and free the wind;

I will commend my blameless brother

To God, the supreme Ruler;

Partake of the communion before thy death.
CXXIX. I will not receive the communion

From excommunicated monks,

With their cloaks on their hips;

May God himself give me communion!
CXXX. I will commend my blameless

Brother in the supreme Caer;

May God take care of Myrdin!
CXXXI. I, too, will commend my blameless

Sister in the supreme Caer;–

May God take care of Gwendydd. Amen!


How Lancelot Came to the Nunnery in Search of the Queen

By S. Weir Mitchell
Three days on Gawain’s tomb Sir Lancelot wept,

Then drew about him baron, knight, and earl,

And cried, “Alack, fair lords, too late we came,

For now heaven hath its own, and woe is mine:

But ‘gainst the black knight Death may none avail.

I will that ye no longer stay for me.

In Arthur’s realm I go to seek the Queen,

Nor ever more in earthly lists shall ride.”

So, heeding none, seven days he westward rode,

And at the sainted mid-hour of the night

Was ‘ware of voices, and above them all

One that he knew, and trembled now to hear.

Rose-hedged before him stood a nunnery’s walls,

With gates wide open unto foe or friend.

Unquestioned to the cloister court he came,

And in the moonlight, on the balcony, saw

Beneath the arches nuns and ladies stand,

And in their midst a cowled white face he loved,

Whereat he cried aloud, “Lo, I am here!

Lo, I am here!–I, Lancelot, am here!

Would ye I came? I could not help but come.”

Spake then the Queen, low-voiced as one in pain:

“Oh, call him here, I pray you call him here.”

Then lit Sir Lancelot down, and climbed the stair,

And doffed his helm, and stood before the Queen.

But she that had great fear to see his face:

“Oh, sinless sisters, ye that are so dear,

Lo, this is he through whom great ills were wrought;

For by our love, which we have loved too well,

Is slain my lord and many noble knights.

And therefore, wit ye well, Sir Lancelot,

My soul’s health waneth; yet through God’s good grace

I trust, when death is come, to sit with Christ,

Because in heaven more sinful souls than I

Are saints in heaven; and therefore, Lancelot,

For all the love that ever bound our souls

I do beseech thee hide again thy face.

On God’s behalf I bid thee straitly go,

Because my life is as a summer spent;

Yea, go, and keep thy realm from wrack and war,

For, well as I have loved thee, Lancelot,

My heart will no more serve to see thy face;

Nay, not if thou shouldst know love in mine eyes.

In good haste get thee to thy realm again,

And heartily do I beseech thee pray

That I may make amend of time mislived.

And take to thee a wife, for age is long.”

“Ah no, sweet madam,” said Sir Lancelot,

“That know ye well I may not while I breathe;

But as thou livest, I will live in prayer.”

“If thou wilt do so,” said the Queen, “so be.

Hold fast thy promise; yet full well I know

The world will bid thee back.” — “And yet,” he cried,

“When didst thou know me to a promise false?

Wherefore, my lady dame, sweet Guinevere,

For all my earthly bliss hath been in thee,

If thou wilt no more take of this world’s joy,

I too shall cease to know the bliss of life.

I pray thee kiss me once, and nevermore.”

“Nay,” said the Queen, “that shall I never do.

No more of earthly lips shall I be kissed.”

Then like to one stung through with hurt of spears,

Who stares, death-blinded, round the reeling lists,

At gaze he stood, but saw no more the Queen;

And as a man who gropes afoot in dreams,

Deaf, dumb, and sightless, down the gallery stairs

Stumbling he went, with hands outstretched for aid,

And found his horse, and rode, till in a vale

At evening, ‘twixt two cliffs, came Bedevere,

And with his woesome story stayed the knight.

At this, Sir Lancelot’s heart did almost break

For sorrow, and abroad his arms he cast,

And cried, “Alas! ah, who may trust this world!”

Cerdic And Arthur

By John Lesslie Hall
Hengist went off to All-Father’s keeping,

Wihtgils’s son, to the Wielder’s protection,

Earl of the Anglians. From the east came, then,

Cerdic the Saxon a seven-year thereafter;

The excellent atheling, offspring of Woden

Came into Albion. His own dear land

Lay off to the eastward out o’er the sea-ways,

Far o’er the flood-deeps. His fair-haired, eagle-eyed

Liegeman and son sailed westwardly,

O’er the flint-gray floods, with his father and liegelord,

O’er the dashing, lashing, dark-flowing currents

That roll and roar, rumble, grumble

Eastward of Albion. Not e’er hath been told me

Of sea-goers twain trustier, doughtier

Than Cerdic and Cynric, who sailed o’er the waters

Valiant, invincible vikings and sea-dogs

Seeking adventure. Swift westwardly,

O’er the fallow floods, fared they to Albion,

Would look for the land that liegemen-kinsmen

Of Hengist and Horsa and high-mooded Aella

And Cissa had come to. Cerdic was mighty,

Earl of the Saxons. His excellent barks,

His five good floats, fanned by the breezes,

Gliding the waters were wafted to Albion,

Ocean-encircled isle of the sea-waves,

Delightsomest of lands. Lay then at anchor

The five good keels close to the sea-shore;

The swans of the sea sat on the water

Close by the cliff-edge. The clever folk-leader

Was boastful and blithesome, brave-mooded Saxon,

Said to his earlmen: “Excellent thanes

True-hearted, trusty table-companions,

See the good land the loving, generous

Gods have given you: go, seize on it.

I and my son have sailed westwardly,

To gain with our swords such goodly possessions

As Hengist and Aella did erstwhile win

On the island of Albion. On to the battle,

The foe confronteth us.” Folk of the island,

Earlmen of Albion, angry-mooded, then,

Stood stoutly there, striving to hurl them

Off in the ocean east to the mainland,

Back o’er the billows. Bravely Albion’s

Fearless defenders fought with the stranger

Then and thereafter: early did Cerdic

See and declare that slowly, bloodily,

And foot by foot, must the folk of the Saxons

Tear from the Welsh their well-lovèd, blithesome,

Beautiful fatherland. Brave were the men that

So long could repel the puissant, fearless

Sons of the Saxons that had sailed o’er the oceans

To do or to die, doughty, invincible

Earls of the east. The excellent kinsmen,

Father and son, scions of Woden,

Burned in their spirit to build in the south the

Greatest of kingdoms: ‘t was granted to Cerdic

To be first of the famous folk-lords of Wessex,

Land-chiefs belovèd; to lead, herald the

World-famous roll of the wise, eminent

Athelings of Wessex, where Egbert and Ethelwulf,

Alfred and Edward, ever resplendently,

Spaciously shine, shepherds of peoples,

Excellent athelings, and Athelstan, Godwin

And Harold the hero, helms of the Saxons,

Have their names written in record of glory

In legend and story, leaving their fame as an

Honor forever to England, peerless

Mother of heroes.–The men of the east

Slowly, bloodily builded a kingdom

Where Aesc and Aella not e’er had been able

To bear their banners, though both these athelings

Were in might marvellous, mood-brave, heroic

Leaders of liegemen.–Beloved of the Welsh

Was the atheling Arthur, excellent, valiant

Lord of the Silurians, land-prince, warrior

Famed ‘mid the races. He rued bitterly

That father and son, Saxon invaders,

To the left and right were wresting, tearing

From races no few their fond-lovèd, blood-bought

Homesteads and manors, were hacking and sacking

Folk of the southland, and far westwardly

Had bitterly banished the best of the heroes

And earlmen of Albion. Arthur was mighty,

Uther Pendragon’s offspring belovèd,

His fame far-reaching. Afar and anear then,

All men of Albion honored and loved him;

Sent over Severn beseeching the mighty

Silurian leader no longer to tarry

In crushing the foemen, but quickly to drive them

Back to their bottomless bogs in the eastward

O’er the rime-cold sea; said wailingly:

“The fierce, pitiless folk of the eastward,

Mighty, remorseless men of the waters,

Treacherous, terrible, will take speedily

Our name and nation, and naught will be left us

But to dare and to die.” The doughty, invincible

Atheling Arthur, earl of Siluria,

Offspring of Uther, early was ready;

Feared not, failed not, fared on his journey

Seeking for Cerdic. Severn’s waters

Saw him and laughed, little expecting

That Arthur the king and the excellent knights

Of the Table Round, with troopers a-many,

Would suffer the foemen to seize and possess the

Lands of Siluria, would let the remorseless,

Implacable, pitiless pagan and heathen

Sail over Severn; not soon did it happen

While Arthur the atheling his earth-joys tasted

Here under heaven. That hero was brave,

Great, all-glorious: God fought for him:

Nor Cerdic nor Cynric could soon injure that

Hero of Heaven; his horrible destiny

Wyrd the weaver wove in her eerie,

Mysterious meshes, mighty, taciturn

Goddess of gods: she gives whom she will to

Speed in the battle. Brave-mooded Arthur,

Offspring of Uther, was eager for glory,

Peerless of prowess: proudly, dauntlessly

Fought he for Albion. Not e’er heard I

Of better battle-knight, more bold, fearless,

That sun ever shone on: the sheen of his glory

With lustre illumined the land where his mother

Gave birth to the bairn; and broad, mighty,

Spacious his fame was; his splendid achievements

Were known to all nations. None could e’er dare to

Cope with that hero, till the conquering, dauntless

Earl of the Anglians, ever-belovèd

Founder of freedom and father of kings,

O’er the seas sailing, slowly, bloodily

Builded the best and broadest of kingdoms

Heroes e’er heard of. The heart of king Arthur

Was sad as he saw the Saxon invader

How, foot by foot, forward, onward,

He ever proceeded, eastward, westward,

Far to the north, founding and building

A kingdom and country to crush and destroy the

Land that he long had lived for, thought for,

Fiercely had fought for. Famed was Arthur,

Wide his renown; but Wyrd the spinster

Taketh no heed of hero or craven;

Her warp and her woof she weaveth and spinneth

Unmindful of men. The mighty war-hero,

Atheling Arthur, set out on his journey,

Laid down his life-joys; the belovèd folk-lord’s

Feasting was finished. Unflinching, fearless,

Doomed unto death, dead on the battle-field

Fell the brave folk-prince. Foul was the traitor,

Hated of heroes. The hope of his countrymen

Sank into darkness; for dead was Arthur,

The last and the best and bravest of Albion’s

Athelings of eld. Not ever thereafter

Could the Welshman withstand the sturdy, mighty

Tread of the Saxon as tramping, advancing,

Onward he went, eastward, westward,

Far to the northward: none withstood him,

Now Arthur was lifeless; he alone was able

To stay for a moment that sturdy, mighty,

Invincible march.–The valiant, doughty

Kinsmen of Cerdic, conquering earlmen,

Forward then bare bravely, unfalt’ringly,

Daringly, dauntlessly, the dragon of Wessex

Fuming and flaming; fearlessly bare it

Northward, eastward, on to the westward,

O’er Severn and Thames and Trent and Humber

And east oceanward, till all the great races

Of Albion’s isle owned as their liegelords

The children of Cerdic, sire of kings and

Founder of freedom. Few among athelings

Were greater than he, gift-lord eminent,

Wielder of Wessex; the wise-mooded, far-seeing,

Brave-hearted folk-prince builded his kingdom

As a bulwark of freedom. His brave, high-hearted

Table-companions, trusty, faithful

Liegemen and thanes, leaped to his service

In peace and in war: well did they love him,

Bowed to his bidding; blithely followed him

Where the fight was fiercest; would fall in the battle

Gladly, eagerly, excellent heroes,

Ere they’d leave their dear lord alone on the battle-field,

Bearing unaided the onset of foes and

The brunt of the battle. The brave ones were mindful

Of the duties of liegemen; dastardly thought it

To flee from the field while their fond, loving

Leader and liegelord lingered thereon

Dead or alive; deemed him a nidering

Who stood not stoutly, sturdily, manfully

Close to his lord as he led in the battle,

Facing the foemen. The free-hearted earlmen

Minded the days when their dear-honored liegelord

Feasted the throngs of thanemen-kinsmen

In the handsomest of halls heroes e’er sat in

‘Neath dome of the welkin. Well they remembered

How their lord lovingly lavished his treasures

On all earlmen older and younger,

Greater and lesser: ‘t were loathsomest treason

To leave such a lord alone in the battle,

With a foe facing him. The folk-ruler mighty

King-like requited them with costliest gems,

Most bountiful banqueting. The brave-hearted man

Builded his kingdom, broadly founded it

Northward, eastward, on to the westward,

South to the seaward. He said tenderly,

Cerdic discoursed, king of the Saxons,

Father of England: “Old, hoary is

Cerdic your king, kinsmen-thanemen,

Warriors of Wessex. Well have ye served me,

Ye and your fathers. I yet remember

How, ere age came on me, I ever was foremost

In deeds of daring, in doughty achievements,

In feats of prowess. I fought valiantly

Alone, unaided, with only my faithful,

Well-lovèd sword, and swept away hundreds

Of earlmen of Albion: now age, ruthless,

Horrible foe of heroes and warriors,

Hath marred my might, though my mood is as daring,

My spirit as stout and sturdy as ever

In years of my youth. I yearn in my soul, now,

To cross over Severn and cut into slivers

The wolf-hearted Welshmen. Well-nigh a forty

Years in their circuits have seen me a-conquering

Here under heaven: from hence, early

I go on my way. Woden will bid me

To the halls of Valhalla, where heroes will meet me,

Gladly will seat me ‘mid the glory-encircled

Heroes of heaven. In my heart it pains me

To feel my war-strength fading and waning

And ebbing away. Would I might leap now

Like a king to the battle, not cow-like breathe out my

Soul in the straw. The son of my bossom,

Cynric my bairn, bravely will lead you

When I am no more: he ever hath proved him

A bold battle-earl. My blade I will give him,

Sigbrand my sword: he hath served me faithfully

Sixty of winters: well do I love him,

Bold-hearted battle-brand.” The brave earlmen, then,

Shouted lustily, loudly commending

The words of good Cerdic. Cynric they loved, too,

Son of the hero; themselves had beheld him

How valiant, adventurous, invincible, king-like

He ever had borne him, since erst he landed

To fight, with his father, the fierce, implacable,

Wolf-hearted Welshmen: well did they love him,

And oft on the ale-benches earlmen asserted

That, when good king Cerdic, gracious, belovèd

Ward of the kingdom, went on his journey,

Laid down his life-joys, his liegefolk would never

Find them a folk-lord fonder, truer,

More honored of all men, than atheling Cynric

Surely would prove him. Shouted they lustily,

“Wes hael, wes hael! hero of Wessex,

Cerdic the conqueror,” clanging their lances

And beating their bucklers, bellowed like oxen,

Blew in their shields, shouting, yelling

Glad-hearted, gleefully. The good one discoursed, then,

Cerdic the king said to his liegemen

(Henchmen all hearkened): “Hear ye, good troopers,

Of Sigbrand my sword. I said he was trusty,

And bitter in biting. I brought him to Albion

Far from the eastward. I fared, long ago,

East over Elbe and Oder and Weser

And thence to the northward, never wearying,

Greedy for glory; ‘mid the Goths found it,

Old, iron-made, excellent sword-blade,

Weland his work. Well I remember

How I heard high-hearted heroes and athelings,

My true-hearted troopers, tell how a dragon,

His cave guarding, kept there a treasure

Age after age; how earls of the eastward

Said that Sigbrand, the sword-blade of Hermann,

Was kept in that cave covered with magic,

Encircled with sorcery, secretly guarded,

Bound with enchantments. I boldly adventured

A grim grapple with that grisly, terrible

Fire-spewing dragon, to fetch to the westward

The well-lovèd, warlike, wide-famous brand

Of Hermann the hero. I hied o’er the rivers

And off to the eastward: earls of those lands there

Laughed when they learned that a lad from the westward

Would dare the great dragon that had daunted their fathers

Five hundred winters. I fared eastward then,

Met with the monster, mightily smote him,

To earth felled him; flamings of battle

Horribly hurled he, hotly he snorted,

Would seethe me in poison. Wtih the point of my blade

I proudly did prick him. Prone he fell forward,

Dead lay the dragon. His den was no more

A horror to heroes; hastened I in, then,

To joy in the sight of jewels and treasures

And song-famous swords that had slept on the wall there

From earliest eras, edge-keen, famous,

Magic-encircled swords of the ancients,

Old-work of giants. With joy, saw I

World-famous Sigbrand, sword-blade of Hermann,

Men-leader mighty, matchless battle-knight,

Hero of Germany. I hastily seized it

All rusting to ruin; the rime-carved, ancient

Sword of the hero was soon hanging then

Safe at my side: it hath served me faithfully

Sixty of winters, well-tried, trusty

Friend-in-the-battle. When I fare, troopers,

Hence to Valhalla, high-hearted Cynric,

My fond-lovèd son, folk-lord of Wessex,

Will take up the brand borne by his father

And carve out a kingdom clean to the northward and

Wide to the westward; the Welshman will cower

And shudder and shake, as the shout of the Saxon

Frightens afresh forest and river

And meadow and plain. I shall pass on my journey

Early anon: old and hoary,

Death will subdue me. Dear young heroes,

Do as I bid ye. Bear ye onward

The banner of Wessex. Wyrd will help you

If doughty your valor. I dare to allege it,

That the gods have given this goodly, bountiful

Land of Albion to the liegemen and children

Of Cerdic the Saxon; seize, hold to it

Forever and ever. Ye early will see me

Lorn of my life-joys, lying unwarlike,

Dead in my armor. I urge you, good heroes,

To build me a barrow broad-stretching, lofty,

High on the cliff-edge, that comers from far

May see it and say that so did Angle-folk

Honor the atheling that erstwhile led their

Fathers of old in founding a kingdom.”

Iarla O Lionaird – I Am Asleep



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