The Battle of the Trees


I have been in many shapes,
Before I attained a congenial form.
I have been a narrow blade of a sword.
(I will believe it when it appears.)
I have been a drop in the air.
I have been a shining Star.
I have been a word in a book.
I have been a book originally.
I have been a light in a lantern.
A year and a half.
I have been a bridge for passing over
Three-score rivers.
I have journeyed as an eagle.
I have been a boat on the sea.
I have been a director in battle.
I have been the string of a child’s swaddling clout.
I have been a sword in the hand.
I have been a shield in the fight.
I have been the string of a harp,
Enchanted for a year
In the foam of water.
I have been a poker in the fire.
I have been a tree in a covert.
There is nothing in which I have not been.
I have fought, though small,
In the Battle of Goddeu Brig,
Before the Ruler of Britain,
Abounding in fleets.
Indifferent bards pretend,
They pretend a monstrous beast,
With a hundred heads,
And a grievous combat
At the root of the tongue.
And another fight there is
At the back of the head.
A toad having on his thighs
A hundred claws,
A spotted crested snake,
For punishing in their flesh
A hundred souls on account of their sins.
I was in Caer efynedd,
Thither were hastening grasses and trees.
Wayfarers perceive them,
Warriors are astonished
At a renewal of the conflicts
Such as Gwydion made.
There is calling on Heaven,
And on Christ that he would effect
Their deliverance,
The all-powerful Lord.
If the Lord had answered,
Through charms and magic skill,
Assume the forms of the principal trees,
With you in array
Restrain the people
Inexperienced in battle.
When the trees were enchanted
There was hope for the trees,
That they should frustrate the intention
Of the surrounding fires….
Better are three in unison,
And enjoying themselves in, a circle,
And one of them relating
The story of the deluge,
And of the cross of Christ,
And of the Day of judgement near at hand.
The alder-trees in the first line,
They made the commencement.
Willow and quicken tree,
They were slow in their array.
The plum is a tree
Not beloved of men;
The medlar of a like nature,
Over coming severe toil.
The bean bearing in its shade
And army of phantoms.
The raspberry makes
Not the best of food.
In shelter live,
The privet and the woodbine,
And the ivy in its season.
Great is the gorse in battle.
The cherry-tree had been reproached.
The birch, though very magnanimous,
Was late in arraying himself;
It was not through cowardice,
But on account of his great size.
The appearance of the …
Is that of a foreigner and a savage.
The pine-tree in the court,
Strong in battle,
By me greatly exalted
In the presence of kings,
The elm-trees are his subjects.
He turns not aside the measure of a foot,
But strikes right in the middle,
And at the farthest end.
The hazel is the judge,
His berries are thy dowry.
The privet is blessed.
Strong chiefs in war
And the … and the mulberry.
Prosperous the beech-tree.
The holly dark green,
He was very courageous:
Defended with spikes on every side,
Wounding the hands.
The long-enduring poplars
Very much broken in fight.
The plundered fern;
The brooms with their offspring:
The furze was not well behaved
Until he was tamed
The heath was giving consolation,
Comforting the people –
The black cherry-tree was pursuing.
The oak-tree swiftly moving,
Before him tremble heaven and earth,
Stout doorkeeper against the foe
Is his name in all lands.
The corn-cockle bound together,
Was given to be burnt.
Others were rejected
On account of the holes made
By great violence
In the field of battle.
Very wrathful the …
Cruel the gloomy ash.
Bashful the chestnut-tree,
Retreating from happiness.
There shall be a black darkness,
There shall be a shaking of the mountain,
There shall be a purifying furnace,
There shall first be a great wave,
And when the shout shall be heard,
Putting forth new leaves are the tops of the beech,
Changing form and being renewed from a withered state;
Entangled are the tops of the oak.
From the Gorchan of Maelderw.
Smiling at the side of the rock
(Was) the pear-tree not of an ardent nature.
Neither of mother or father,
When I was made,
Was my blood or body;
Of nine kinds of faculties,
Of fruit of fruits,
Of fruit God made me,
Of the blossom of the mountain primrose,
Of the buds of trees and shrubs,
Of earth of earthly kind.
When I was made
Of the blossoms of the nettle,
Of the water of the ninth wave,
I was spell-bound by Math
Before I became immortal.
I was spell-bound by Gwydion,
Great enchanter of the Britons,
Of Eurys, of Eurwn,
Of Euron, of Medron,
In myriads of secrets,
I am as learned as Math….
I know about the Emperor
When he was half burnt.
I know the star-knowledge
Of stars before the earth (was made),
Whence I was born,
How many worlds there are.
It is the custom of accomplished bards
To recite the praise of their country.
I have played in Lloughor,
I have slept in purple.
Was I not in the enclosure
With Dylan Ail Mor,
On a couch in the centre
Between the two knees of the prince
Upon two blunt spears?
When from heaven came
The torrents into the deep,
Rushing with violent impulse.
(I know) four-score songs,
For administering to their pleasure.
There is neither old nor young,
Except me as to their poems,
Any other singer who knows the whole of the nine hundred
Which are known to me,
Concerning the blood-spotted sword.
Honour is my guide.
Profitable learning is from the Lord.
(I know) of the slaying of the boar,
Its appearing, its disappearing,
Its knowledge of languages.
(I know) the light whose name is Splendour,
And the number of the ruling lights
That scatter rays of fire
High above the deep.
I have been a spotted snake upon a hill;
I have been a viper in a lake;
I have been an evil star formerly.
I have been a weight in a mill.
My cassock is red all over.
I prophesy no evil.
Four score puffs of smoke
To every one l who will carry them away:
And a million of angels,
On the point of my knife.
Handsome is the yellow horse,
But a hundred times better
Is my cream-coloured one,
Swift as the sea-mew,
Which cannot pass me
Between the sea and the shore.
Am I not pre-eminent in the field of blood?
I have a hundred shares of the spoil.
My wreath is of red jewels,
Of gold is the border of my shield.
There has not been born one so good as I,
Or ever known,
Except Goronwy,
From the dales of Edrywy.
Long and white are my fingers,
It is long since I was a herdsman.
I travelled over the earth
Before I became a learned person.
I have travelled, I have made a circuit,
I have slept in a hundred islands;
I have dwelt in a hundred cities.
Learned Druids,
Prophesy ye of Arthur?
Or is it me they celebrate,
And the Crucfixion of Christ,
And the Day of Judgement near at hand,
And one relating
The history of the Deluge ?
With a golden jewel set in gold
I am enriched;
And I am indulging in pleasure
Out of the oppressive toil of the goldsmith.

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