John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Poet's Corner: Gereint fil' Erbin

Bore da! caerwynx here, sitting in for our jheaton, who is, even now, enjoying the forest primeval.



Gereint fil' Erbin
(The Black Book of Carmarthen)

Before Gereint, the enemy’s affliction,
I saw white horses, bent and bloodstained,
And after the battle cry, a bitter grave.

Before Gereint, the one who drives out the enemy,
I saw horses bloodied by battle,
And after the battle cry, bitter intent.

Before Gereint, the enemy’s oppression,
I saw horses, white their hide,
And after the battle cry, bitter refuge.

In Llongborth I saw war fury,
And countless biers,
And men reddened before Gereint’s rush.

In Llongborth I saw swordplay,
Men in battle and blood about the pate,
Before great Gereint, his father’s son.

In Llongborth I saw spurs,
And men retreating before spears,
And the drinking of wine from a bright goblet.

In Llongborth I saw men’s weapons,
And a field of blood flowing.
And after the conflict, bitter pledge.

In Llongborth I saw Arthur,
Brave men who were cutting down with steel,
Emperor, lord of battle.

In Llongborth Gereint was killed,
Brave men from the district of Devon,
And before they were slain, they slew.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, grain-fed,
A red rush of speckled eagles.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, grain was theirs.
A red rush of black eagles.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, grain of affliction,
A red rush of red eagles.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, consuming grain,
A red rush of white eagles.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, corn-fed,
A tumult of fire on the mountain waste.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, greedy for grain,
Gray the tips of their silvered manes.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, worthy of grain,
A red rush of blue-grey eagles.

They were swift that advanced under Gereint’s thigh,
Long-shanked, grain their food,
A red rush of grey eagles.

When Gereint was born the gates of Heaven were opened,
Christ gave what he promised,
A fair chief, the glory of Britain.

(Trans. Pamela S. M. Hopkins)
Tags: poet's corner
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