The Battle Of Gwenystrad

contemporary of Aneurin in the sixth century. He appears to have been a

native of Cardiganshire, for we find him at an early age living at the

court of Gwyddno, a petty king of Cantre y Gwaelod, who appointed him his

chief bard and tutor to his son Elphin. He was afterwards attached to

the court of Urien Rheged, a Welsh prince, king of Cambria and of

Scotland as far as the river Clyde, who fought and conquered in the great
br /> battle of Gwenystrad, and is celebrated by the bard in the following

song. Taliesin composed many poems, but seventy seven of them only have

been preserved. The subjects of his poetry were for the most part

religion and history, but a few of his poems were of a martial


If warlike chiefs with dawning day

At Cattraeth met in dread array,

The song records their splendid name;

But who shall sing of Urien's fame?

His patriot virtues far excel

Whate'er the boldest bard can tell:

His dreadful arm and dauntless brow

Spoil and dismay the haughty foe.

Pillar of Britain's regal line!

'Tis his in glorious war to shine;

Despair and death attend his course,

Brave leader of the Christian force!

See Prydyn's men, a valiant train,

Rush along Gwenystrad's plain!

Bright their spears for war addrest,

Raging vengeance fires their breast;

Shouts like ocean's roar arise,

Tear the air, and pierce the skies.

Here they urge their tempest force!

Nor camp nor forest turns their course:

Their breath the shrieking peasants yield

O'er all the desolated field.

But lo, the daring hosts engage!

Dauntless hearts and flaming rage;

And, ere the direful morn is o'er,

Mangled limbs and reeking gore,

And crimson torrents whelm the ground,

Wild destruction stalking round;

Fainting warriors gasp for breath,

Or struggle in the toils of death.

Where the embattled fortress rose,

(Gwenystrad's bulwark from the foes,)

Fierce conflicting heroes meet--

Groans the earth beneath their feet.

I mark, amidst the rolling flood,

Where hardy warriors stain'd with blood

Drop their blunt arms, and join the dead,

Grey billows curling o'er their head:

Mangled with wounds, and vainly brave,

At once they sink beneath the wave.

Lull'd to everlasting rest,

With folded arms and gory breast--

Cold in death, and ghastly pale,

Chieftains press the reeky vale,

Who late, amidst their kindred throng,

Prepar'd the feast, and join'd the song;

Or like the sudden tempest rose,

And hurl'd destruction on the foes.

Warriors I saw who led the fray,

Stern desolation strew'd their way;

Aloft the glitt'ring blade they bore,

Their garments hung with clotted gore.

The furious thrust, the clanging shield,

Confound the long-disputed field.

But when Rheged's chief pursues,

His way through iron ranks he hews;

Hills pil'd on hills, the strangers bleed:

Amaz'd I view his daring deed!

Destruction frowning on his brow,

Close he urg'd the panting foe,

'Till hemm'd around, they met the shock,

Before Galysten's hoary rock.

Death and torment strew'd his path;

His dreadful blade obey'd his wrath:

Beneath their shields the strangers lay,

Shrinking from the fatal day.

Thus in victorious armour bright,

Thou brave Euronwy, pant for fight:

With such examples in thine eyes,

Haste to grasp the hero's prize.

And till old age has left me dumb--

Till death has call'd me to the tomb--

May cheerful joys ne'er crown my days,

Unless I sing of Urien's praise!