Roderic's Lament

Farewell every mountain

To memory dear,

Each streamlet and fountain

Pelucid and clear;

Glad halls of my father,

From banquets ne'er freed,

Where chieftains would gather

To quaff the bright mead,

Each valley and woodland

Whose coverts I knew,

Lov'd haunts of my childhood

For ever, adieu!

The mountains are blaste

And burnt the green wood,

The fountain untasted

Flows crimsoned with blood,

The halls are deserted,

Their glory appear

Like dreams of departed

And desolate years,

The wild wood and valley,

The covert, the glade,

Bereft of their beauty,

Invaded! betrayed!

Farewell hoary minstrel,

Gay infancy's friend,

What roof will protect thee?

What chieftain defend?

Alas for the number,

And sweets of their song,

Soon, soon they must slumber,

The mountains among;

The breathing of pleasure

No more will aspire,

For changed is the measure,

Of liberty's lyre!

Adieu to the greeting

Of damsel and dame,

When home from the beating

Of foemen we came,

If Edward the daughters

Of Walia would spare,

He dooms them the fetters

Of vassals to wear;

To hear the war rattle,

To see the land burn,

While foes from the battle

In triumph return.

Farewell, and for ever,

Dear land of my birth,

Again we shall never

Know revels or mirth,

The cloud mantled castle,

My ancestors' pride,

The pleasure and wassail

In rapture allied;

The preludes of danger

Approach thee from far,

The spears of strangers,

The beacons of war.

Farewell to the glory

I dreamed of in vain;

Behold on the story

A blood tinctured stain!

Nor this the sole token

The records can blast,

Our lances are broken,

Our trophies are lost;

The children of freedom,

The princely, the brave,

Have none to succeed them

Their country to save.

Yet still there are foemen

The tyrant to meet,

Will laugh at each omen

Of death and defeat;

Despise every warning

His mandate may bring

The promises scorning

Of Loegria's king:

Who seek not to vary

Their purpose or change,

But firm as Eryri {81}

Are fixed for revenge.

Between the rude barriers

Of yonder dark hill,

A few gallant warriors

Are lingering still;

While fate pours her phials,

Unmoved they remain,

Resolved on the trial

Of battle again;

Resolved on their honour,

Which yet they can boast,

To rescue their banner

They yesterday lost.

Shall Roderic then tremble,

And cowardly leave

The faithful assembly

To fight for a grave?

Regardless of breathing

The patriot's law,

His country forsaking

And basely withdraw

From liberty's quarrel,

Forgetting his vow,

And tarnish the laurel

That circles his brow?

But art thou not, Helen,

Reproving this stay,

While fair sails are swelling

To bear thee away?

And must we then sever,

My country, my home?

Thus part and for ever

Submit to our doom?

Ah! let me not linger

Thus long by the way

Lest memory's finger

Unman me for aye!

Hark, hart, yonder bugle!

'Tis Gwalchmai's shrill blast

Exclaiming one struggle,

Then all will be past,

Another, another!

It peals the same note

As erst when together

Delighted we fought!

But then it resounded

With victory's swell,

While now it hath sounded,

Life, liberty's knell!

Adieu, then my daughter

Loved Helen adieu,

The summons of slaughter

Is pealing anew;

Yet can I thus leave thee,

Defenceless and lorn,

No home to receive you,

A by-word and scorn?

'Tis useless reflection,

All soon will be o'er,

Heaven grant you protection

When Roderic's no more

Cease, Saxons, your scorning

Prepare for the war;

So Roderic's returning

To battle once more!

The vulture and raven

Are tracking his breath;

For fate has engraven

A record of death:

They mark on his weapon

From many a breast,

A stream that might deepen

The crimsonest crest!

While darkness benighting

Engirdled the zone,

The chieftain was fighting

His way to renown;

But ere morn had risen

In purple and gold,

The heart's blood was frozen,

Of Roderic the bold!

The foemen lay scattered

In heaps round his grave;

His buckler was battered

And broke was his glaive!

And fame the fair daughter

Of victory came,

And loud 'mid the slaughter

Was heard to proclaim,

"A hero is fallen!

A warrior's at rest,

The banner of Gwynedd

Enshrouded his breast,

His name shall inherit

The conqueror's prize,

His purified spirit

Ascend to the skies."