The Celtic Literature Collective

Dialogue of Arthur and Eliwlod

I wonder, seeing I am a bard,
On the top of the oak and its branches on high 
What the vision of an eagle, what the illusion.

Arthur, who hast attained distant tame
Joy and advantage of thine host,
The eagle heretofore hast thou seen.

I wonder at thy station by the side of the wall.
And I will ask of thee in metre
What the illusion, what the vision, of an eagle.

Arthur whose fame hath travelled far
And whose host is of gladsome aspect.
The eagle hast thou seen heretofore.

Eagle, being on the top of the oak
If thou beest of the race of birds
Thou canst not be either domestic or tame

Arthur, gladial portent, 
Before whose onset nothing stands.
I am the sott of Madoc son of Uthyr.

I know not the kind of the eagle
[As one] that frequents the vales ot Cornwall. 
The son of Madoc ap Uthyr liveth not.

To meditate unrighteous treason
And conceal your purpose long
Is called complete sin.

Eagle, gentle in discourse,
Speak thou without reserve.
What shall enable me to escape?

Praying God at every dawn,
And seeking to obtain remission
And asking the aid of the saints.

Eagle, not poor of speech,
I will question thee on thy discourse,
Of what sort is the worst that happens to sin.

To obtain the long penance infernal,
And get an irrecoverable fell,
And lose God to eternity.

Eagle of speech about to depart,
I will ask of thee previously,
Is there a course devoid of hope?

Arthur of exalted elocution,
If thou wouldest obtain a share of the world,
With the mighty hope is weak.

Arthur of speech both subtle and fierce, 
Whose host is of unreproached wrath, 
Eliwlod erewhile was I called.

Eagle of blameless aspect 
And whose discourse is not evil, 
Art thou Eliwlod my nephew?

Arthur audacious in the onset,
If I be Eliwlod
Am I a good connection of thine?

Eagle, untreacherous in discourse, 
If thou art Eliwlod, 
Was the battle-slaughter good around thee?

Arthur, audacious in answering, 
Before whose face no enemy standeth, 
From death there is no escape.

Eagle, undisguised of speech, 
No one could through war 
Bring thee to life again.

Arthur, dignitaiy among the generous, 
If the words of the canon shall be believed. 
With God contention is not good.

Eagle clear of speech, 
Wilt thou say unto Arthur 
What thing is evil for him to do?

To purpose evil with premeditation, 
And to abide long in the purpose, 
Is called sin and failure.

Eagle, most wise in discourse, 
Of thyself will I enquire, 
How shall I attain to God's approbation?

To love God with righteous mind, 
And ask upright requests, 
Procures heaven and the mundane gift.

Eagle, veracious in declaring, 
If it be correct, I will ask thee, 
Is the praising of him good in Christ's sight?

Arthur, thou art the most mighty.
On the tower I will expect the excellent hero.
Let evety spirit praise its Lord.

Eagle of serene existence, 
Without intrusion I will ask thee. 
Who doth the spirit say is nearest?

Arthur, restless with blades, 
Who has fallen by the pain of thy blood-sheddings, 
Christ it is, whose faith is not concerning falsehoods.

Eagle speaking words of acknowledgment 
I will ask, the while I cry out, 
What is the course to seek for heaven?

Repentance for perverseness, 
And to hope for mercy. 
This procureth peace.

Eagle not ungracious in speech.
Declare thou with clearness
What thing it is evil to do.

Eagle sincere of speech, 
Of thyself it shall be asked, 
When is not the mighty possessor of the earth?

Arthur, exalted gwyddva, 
Not to lose God or the Alpha 
Is the summit of mightiness.

Eagle, certain in thy speech, 
I will question thee on thy words:
Except that I myself am mighty.

Arthur head of the battles of Cornwall, 
Exalted one, acute-edged of shape, 
None is mighty excepting God.

Eagle of intricate speech, 
I will ask thee without trifling, 
What doeth God with [my] retinue?

If the retinue be sincere to worship, 
If uptight in praying together, 
God will not give hell to them.

Eagle of speech, dismal as the grave, 
I will ask thee in my mightiness, 
Who shall give judgment in the doomsday?

Arthur, exalted gwyddva.
Sacred enigma of the divided-place, 
God himself shall judge.


Eagle of celestial destiny, 
Hast thou not obtained to see 
What Christ doeth to those who believe?

Arthur, gwyddva of gladness. 
With thy host thou wert a complete huntsman, 
Thy self shall know the judgment-day.


Eagle, with the speech of ... ... ...
I will ask of thee the owner ot hosts, 
What shall the judgment-day do to the Gentiles?

Arthur, exalted switly-moving lamp, 
Whose pure innocency is gash-extinguish'd. 
There shall each one know his place.

Eagle, not fitter in discourse, 
I will ask of thee without offence, 
Is it good for the sun to obtain service?

If thou seekest to have the service of the sun.
And favour with God afterwards.
Blessed art thou by reason thereof.

Eagle condescending in discourse, 
By the Concealed-God I will ask thee. 
What shall be mine, if I shall be without it?

If thou wilt have unveiled discourse, 
Thou art the sun, saith Necessity. saith Destiny, 
Until the other sun of no illusory lustre.

Eagle of very notable discourse, 
I will ask thee in all security, 
What is the course for the soul?

The Pater and prayers, 
And fasting and charities, 
And calmness of the soul until death.

From Jes. 3, a 16th century manuscript, Norris J. Lacy holds it to be a much older poem than that. It originally appeared in Britannia After the Romans, by Algernon Herbert. Henry Bohn Co., 1836.

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