Arthurian and Grail Poetry

Cad Goddeu or The Battle of Goddeu

Translation by Revd. Robert Williams

I have been a mulitude of shapes,
Before I assumed a consistant form.
I have been a sword, narrow, variegated,
I will believe when it is apparent.
I have been a tear in the air,
I have been in the dullest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
I have been a book in the origin.
I have been the light of lanterns,
A year and a half.
I have been a continuing bridge,
Over three score river-mouths.
I have been a course, I have been an eagle.
I have been a coracle in the sea.
I have been complaint in the banquet.
I have been a drop in a shower;
I have been a sword in the grasp of a hand.
I have been a shield in battle.
I have been a string in a harp,
Disguised for nine years.
In water, in foam,
I have been a sponge in fire,
I have been wood in covert.
I am not he who will not sing of
A combat though small,
The conflict of the battle of Godau of sprigs.
Against the Guledig of Prydain,
There passed central horses,
Fleets full of riches.
There passed an animal with wide jaws,
On it were a hundred heads.
And a battle was contested
Under the root of his tongue;
And another battle there is
In his occiput.
A black sprawling toad,
With a hundred claws on it,
A snake speckled, crested.
A hundred souls through sin
Shall be tormented in its flesh.
I have been in Care Vevenir,
Thither hastened grass and trees.
Minstrels were singing,
Warrior bands were wondering,
At the exaltation of the Brython,
That Gwydyon effected.
There was a calling on the Creator,
Upon Christ for causes,
Until when the Eternal
Should deliver those whom he had made.
The Lord answered them,
Through language and elements:
Take the forms fo the principal trees,
Arranging yourselves in battle array,
And restraining the public.
Inexperienced in battle hand to hand.
When the trees were enchanted,
In the expectation of not being trees,
The trees uttered thier voices
From strings of harmony
The disputes ceased.
Let us cut short heavy days,
A female restained the din.
She came forth altogether lovely.
The head of the line, the head was a female.
The advantage of a sleepless cow
Would not make us give way.
The blood of men up to our thighs,
The greatest of importunate mental exertions
Sported into the world.
And one has ended
From considering the deluge,
And Christ crucified,
And the day of judgement near at hand.
The alder-trees, the head of the line,
Formed the van.
The willows and quicken-trees
Came late to the army.
Plum-trees, they are scarce,
Unlonged for men.
The elaborate medlar-trees,
The objects of contention.
The prickly rose bushes,
Against a host of giants,
The rasberry brake did
What is better failed
For the security of life.
Privet and woodbine
And ivy on its front,
Life furze to the combat
The cherry-tree was provoked.
The birch, not withstanding his high mind,
Was late before he was arrayed.
Not because of his cowardice,
But on account of his greatness.
The laburnum held in mind,
That your wild nature was foreign.
Pine-trees in the porch,
The chair of distribution
By me greatly exalted,
In the presence of kings.
The elm with his retinue,
Did not go aside a foot;
He would fight with the centre,
And the flanks, and the rear.
Hazel-trees, it was judged
That ample thy mental exertion.
The privet, happy is his lot,
The bull of battle, the lord of the world.
Morawg and Morydd
Were made prosperous in pines.
Holly, it was tinted with green,
He was a hero.
The hawthorn, surrounded by prickles,
With pain at his hand.
The aspen-wood has been topped,
It was topped in battle.
The fern that was plundered.
The broom in the van of the army,
In the trenches he was hurt.
The gorse did not do well,
Notwithstanding let it overspread.
The heath was victorous, keeping off on all sides.
The common people were charmed,
During the proceeding of the men.
The oak, quick moving,
Before him, tremble heaven and earth.
A valiant door-keeper against an enemy,
His name is considered.
The blue-bells combined,
And caused a consternation.
In rejecting, were rejected.
Pear-trees, the best intruders
in the conflict on the plain.
A very wrathful wood,
The chestnut is bashful,
The opponent of happiness,
The jet has become black,
The mountain has become crooked,
The woods have become a kiln,
Existing formerly has the great seas,
Sine was heard the shout:---
The tops of the birch covered us with leaves.
And transformed us, and changed our faded state.
The branches of the oak have ensnared us
From the Gwarchan Mwelderw.
Laughing on the side of rock,
The rold is not an ardent nature.
Not of mother and father was I made,
Did my Creator create me.
Of nine-formed faculties,
Of the fruit of fruits,
Of the fruit of the primordial God,
Of primroses and blossoms on the hill,
Of the earth, of an earthly course,
When I was formed,
Of the flower nettles,
Of the water of the ninth wave.
I was enchanted by Math,
Before I became immortal,
I was enchanted by Gwydyon
The great purifier of the Brithon,
Of Eurwys, of Euron,
Of Euron, of Modron.
Of five battalions of scientific ones,
Teachers, children of Math.
When the removal occurred,
I was enchanted by the Guledig.
When he was half-burnt,
I was enchanted by the sage
Of Sages, in the primitive world.
When I had a being;
When the host of the world was in dignity,
The bard was accustomed to benefits.
To the song of praise I am inclined, which the tongue recites.
I played in twilight,
I slept in purple;
I was truly in the enchantment
With Dylan, the son of the wave.
In the circumfrence, in the middle,
Between the knees of kings,
Scattering spears not keen,
From heaven when came,
To the great deep, floods,
In the battle there will be
Four score hundreds,
That will divide according to their will.
Are they neither older or younger,
Than myself in their divisions.
A wonder, Canhwr are born, every one of nine hundred.
He was with me also,
With my sword spotted with blood.
Honor was allotted to me
By the Lord, and protection (was) where he was.
If I come to where the boar was killed,
He will compose, he will decompose,
He will form languages.
The strong-handed gleamer, his name,
With a gleam he rules his numbers.
They would spread out in a flame,
When I shall go on high.
I have been a speckled snake on the hill,
I have been a viper in Llyn.
I have been a bill-hook crooked that cuts,
I have been a ferocious spear
With my chasuble and bowl
I will prophesy not badly.
Four score smokes
On every one that bring.
Five battalians of arms
Will be caught by my knife.
Six steads of yellow hue
A hundred times better is
my cream-colored steed,
Swift as the sea-mew
Which will not pass
Between the sea and the shore.
Am I not pre-eminent in the field of blood?
Over it are a hundred chieftans.
Crimson (is) the gem of my belt,
Gold my shield border.
There has not been born, in the gap,
That has been visiting me,
Except Goronwy,
From the dales of Edrywy.
Long white my fingers,
It is long since I have been a herdsman.
I have travelled the earth,
Before I was proficient in learning.
I have travelled, I made a circuit,
I slept in a hundred islands.
A hundred Caers I have dwelt in.
Ye intelligent Druids,
Declare to Arthur,
What is there more early
Than I that they sing of.
And one is come
From considering the deluge
And Christ crucified,
And the day of future doom.
A golden gem in a golden jewel.
I am splendid
And shall be wanton
From the oppression of the metal-workers.