The Celtic Literature Collective

I Was Formerly Fair of Limb
Llywarch Hen
Red Book of Hergest XL

I was formerly fair of limb, I was eloquent in speech:
What is not wonderful will be extolled- 
The men of Argoed have ever supported me.

I was formerly fair of limb, I was bold,
I was admitted into the congress-house
Of Powys, the paradise of the Cymry.

I was formerly fair of limb, I was comely; 
Throbbing was concomitant with my spear:
My back (now) curved was first in vigour--I am heavy, I am wretched.

Wooden crook! is it not the time of harvest, 
When the fern is brown, and the reeds are yellow? 
I have I not once disliked what I now love!

Wooden crook! is not this winter, 
When men are noisy over the beverage? 
Is not my bedside void of greeting visits!

Wooden crook! is it not the spring, 
When the cuckoos are brownish, when the foam is bright? 
I am destitute of a maidenís love.

Wooden crook! is it not the beginning of summer, 
Are not the furrows brown, are not the corn-blades curled?
It is refreshing to me to look at thy beak!

Wooden crook! thou contented branch
That supportest a mourning old man!
Llywarch of pleasant talk!

Wooden crook! thou hardy branch
That bearest with me-God protect thee!
Thou art justly called the tree of wandering.

Wooden crook! be thou steady, 
So that thou mayest support me the better-
Am not I Llywarch known to many far away?

Surely old age is uniting itself with me, 
From my hair to my teeth, 
And the glowing eyeball which the young ones loved!

Surely old age is uniting itself with mc, 
From my hair to my teeth, 
And the glowing eyeball which the women loved!

The wind grinningly blusters out, white is the skirt of the wood,
Lively is the stag, there is no moisture on the hill
Feeble is the aged, slowly he moves!

This leaf, is it not driven by the wind?
Woe to it as to its fate!
It is old, this year was it born.

What I loved when a youth are hateful to me now:
A strangerís daughter, and a gray steed.
Am not I for them unmeet?

The four most hateful things to me through life, 
Have met together with one accord 
Cough and old age, sickness and grief.

I am old, I am lonely, I am decrepit and cold,
After the sumptuous bed of honour:
I am wretched, I am triply bent!

I am triply bent and old, I am fickly bold,
I am rash, I am outrageous:
Those that loved me, love me not.

Young maidens love me not, I am visited by none, 
I cannot move about--
Ah! death, that he does not seek me!

I am sought by neither sleep nor gladness;
After the slaughter of Llawr and Gwen,
I am outrageous and loathsome, I am old.

Wretched was the fate decreed to Llywarch
On the night he was born;
Long pain without being delivered of his load of trouble.

Array not thyself after waiting; let not thy mind be vexed;
Sharp is the gale, and bleak the spring I- 
Accuse me not, my mother-I am thy son!

Do I not recognise by my Awen, 
My descent, sway, and kindred:
Three themes of the harmonious Awen?

Sharp is my spear, furious in the onset;
I will prepare to watch the ford;
Support against falling may God grant me.

Shouldst thou run away, I will weep for thee;
Shouldst thou be slain, I shall mourn thee:
Lose not the countenance of the men of conflict.

1 will not lose thy countenance, prone to warfare, 
From the time that the hero puts on harness for the course;
I will hear the pang ere I quit the spot.

Gliding is the wave along the beach;
I perceive that the design of that battle will be frustrated.
It is usual for the talkative to run away.

Of that which concerns me I will speak
There is breaking of spears about the place where I am;
I will not say but that I may retreat.

Soft is the bog, the cliff is hard, 
Before the hartís hoof the edge of the bank breaks, 
A promise not fulfilled is none at all.

The streams will divide around the wall of the Caer, 
And I will prognosticate-- 
A shield with a fractured front before I skulk.

The horn given to thee by Urien, 
With the wreath of gold around its rim, 
Blow in it, if thou art in danger.

For the terror of death from the base men of Lloegyr
I will not tarnish my honour;
I will not dispraise maidens.

Whilst I was of the age of yonder youth, 
That wears the golden spurs,
I was active in thrusting the spear.

Truly thy young man is faithful, 
Thou art alive, and thy witness is slain, 
The old man that is now feeble was not so in his youth.

Gwen, by the Llawen, watched last night, 
And success did not fail him:
The battle progressed on the green embankment.

Gwen, by the Llawen, watched last night, 
With the shield on the shoulder; 
As he was my son, he did not retreat.

Gwen with the lowering look, troubled is my mind, 
Thy death greatly provokes my wrath- 
It is not kindred (only) that will speak of thee!

Gwen with thigh of wide opening watched last night
On the border of the ford of Morlas;
And as he was my son, he did not retreat.

Gwen, I knew thy inherent disposition;
In the assault like the eagle at fall of rivers thou wert;
If I were fortunate thou wouldst have escaped.

Let the face of the ground be turned up, let the assailants be covered,
Which chiefs repair to the toil of war;
Gwen, woe to him that is over old, for thee he is indignant.

Let the face of the ground be turned up, and the plain be covered,
When the opposing spears are lifted up.
Gwen, woe to him that is over old, that he should have lost thee.

My son was a man, splendid was his fame;
And he was the nephew of Urien
On the ford of Morlas, Gwen was slain.

The shrine of the fierce overbearing foe,
That vanquished the circularly compact army of Lloegr;
The grave of Gwen, the son of Llywarch Hen, is this!

Four-and-twenty sons have been to me, 
Wearing the golden chain, leaders of armies;
Gwen was the best of them.

Four-and-twenty Sons have been to me, 
Wearing the golden chain, leaders of battle; 
Gwen was the best son of his father.

Four-and-twenty sons to me have been, 
Wearing the golden chain, leading princes; 
Compared with Gwen they were but striplings.

Four-and-twenty Sons were in the family of Llywarch, 
Of brave men full of the wrath of war; 
Their march was a rush, immense their fame.

Four-end-twenty were my eons complete;
My flesh they have caused to wither;
It is well that my budget of misfortune is conic!

When Pyll was slain, gashing was the wound;
And the blood on the hair seemed horrible;
And on both banks of the Ffraw there was violence.

A room might he formed for the wings of shields, 
Which would hold one standing upright,
That were broken in the grasp of Pyll.

The chosen man amongst my sons, 
When each assaulted the foe,
Was fair Pyll, impetuous as a fire through a chimney.

Gracefully he placed his thigh over the saddle.
Of his horse, on the near and far side- 
Pyll, impetuous as the fire through a chimney.

He was gentle, with a hand eager for battle; he was second to no treasure;
He was a bulwark on the course- 
Fair Pyll! fearful is his covering of separation.

When he stood at the door of his tent, 
On the dark-gray steed,
At the sight, the wife of Pyll would recognise a hero.

There was fractured before Pyll a strong skull; 
Seldom would the silent coward be concealed from him; 
The weak is satisfied without anything.

Fair Pyll, widely spread his fame:
Am I not invigorated since thou hast existed 
As my son, and joyful to have known thee?

The best three men under heaven
That guarded their habitation,- 
Pyll, and Selyv, and Sandev.

A shield I gave to Pyll
Before he slept it was not perforated?
To promise it carelessly was to depreciate it.

Should Cymry come, and the predetory host of Lloegyr
And many from distant parts, 
Pyll would show them conduct.

Nor Pyll nor Madawg would be long lived, 
If they preserved the custom.
Would they surrender? they would not surrender! they would never ask for truce!

Behold hero the grave of a faultless one and warlike; 
With the Bards his fame went, where wou1d not have gone,
Pyll, if longer he had continued?

Maen, and Madawg, and Model, valiant men, 
And brothers not refractory, 
Selyv, Heilyn, Llawr, and Lliver.

The grave of Gwell is in Rhiw Velen;
The grave of Sawyl in Llangollen;
Llawr protects the pass of Llorien.

The grave of Rhudd, is it not covered with sods?
The earth of Ammarch does not conceal
The grave of Llyngedwy, the son of Llywarch.

Far from hence is Aber Llyw,
Farther are the two Cyvedliws:
Talan, thou hast repaid my tears to-day.

I have drunk wine from the goblet
He would rush forward against the lance-bearer;
Like the wings of the dawn were the gleamings of the spear of Dunwg.

I have repented of the time that I entreated
That thou shouldst not have thy choice;
It would have been generous to have life prolonged a month

I know the voice of distress
When he descended into the congress-house, 
Chief of men, a goblet of wine he deserved.