The Celtic Literature Collective

King March's Ears

(March) had horse's ears, and nobody knew that except his barber, and he did not dare (confess it) for the sake of his head. And there came sickness to the barber, so that he had to seek a physician, who discovered that a secret was killing him, and he requested the barber to confess it to the earth. And so he did, and became well. And fair reeds grew in that place. And at the time of a high feast the pipers of Maelgwn Gwynedd came there and saw the fair reeds, and they cut them and made them into pipes and played them before the king, and they could play nothing but klustiau march i varch amherichion 'March ap Merichion has horses' ears.'


This is a version of the Midas story, wherein he has the ears of an ass. In this context, it is also a pun on the name of March, which means "horse" in Welsh. The March here, of course, is King Mark of the Tristan and Iseult romance.


Pen. 134 (ca. 1550-62), appended to the genealogy of Iarddur ap Egri ap morien ap mynac ap march ap meirchion, arglwydd ar dalm o wynedd.

Bromwich, Rachel. Trioedd Ynys Prydain Cardiff: UWP, 1963. p.447.

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