The Celtic Literature Collective

The Book of Taliesin X
From The Four Ancient Books of Wales

GOD preserve the heavens
From a flood wide spreading.
The first surging billow
Has rolled over the sea-beach.
What tree is greater
Than he, Daronwy?
I know not for a refuge
Around the proud circle of heaven,
That there is a mystery which is greater.
The light of the men of Goronwy.
Perhaps it may be known,
The magic wand of Mathonwy,1
In the wood when it grows.
Fruits more profitable,
On the bank of Gwyllyonwy.
Cynan2 shall obtain it,
At the time when he governs.
There will come yet
Over the ebb and over the strand,
Four chief sovereignties,
And the fifth not worse.
Men vehement, extensive.
Over Prydain (their) purpose.
Women shall be eloquent,
Strangers shall be captive,
A torrent of longing
For mead and horsemanship.
There will come two ladies,
A widow, and a slender single one;
Iron their wings,
On warriors brooding.
Chieftains will come,
From about the land of Rome.
Their song will harmonise,
Their praise will spread abroad.
The nature of the oak and thorns
In song will harmonise.3
A dog to draw,
A horse to move.
An ox to gore; a sow to turn up.
The fifth fair young beast Jesus made
From the apparel of Adam to proceed.
The foliage of trees, fair to behold them,
Whilst they were, and whilst it was.
When the Cymry shall commit transgressions,
A foreigner will be found, who will love what was
I have leaped a leap from a clear leap,
Good has been dispersed abroad, if a person finds no evil.
The funeral-pile of Rhun4, it is an expiation, 
Between Caer Rian and Caer Rywg,
Between Dineiddyn and Dineiddwg;
A clear glance and a watchful sight.
From the agitation of fire smoke will be raised,
And God our Creator will defend us.


1 The poem seems to refer to the wand of Math, which is made of the strongest tree (Daronwy may be a name refering to oak), and that possession of the wand or fruit from the tree it came from must have some magical property, perhapse even indicating sovereignty?

2 Cynan is Cynan Garwyn, a king of Powys, one of the three kings usually prophecied to return to Britain to drive out the Saxons (the other two usually being Arthur and Cadwallader the Blessed).

3 oak and thorns/In song will harmonise: in what seems to be a prophecy of a future time, opposites will be reconciled? What's interesting is that it is the oak and the thorn--the oak being one of the highly symbolic trees in mythology, the king of trees and representing the thunder god.

4 Rhun: perhapse Rhun ap Maelgwn?

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