Arthurian and Grail Poetry

Marwnat Geraint or Elegy for Geraint

Around the year 480, a battle took place between the Saxons, defending the old Roman Saxon Shore fort of Portchester, and British forces led, apparently, by Arthur. The poem, found in the "Black Book of Carmarthen," is a battle elegy written in praise of Geraint, a Dumnonian king, who fell during the conflict. It is also found in The Red Book of Hergest (circa 1400) and in The White Book of Rhydderch (circa 1350): only a fragment in the latter. Although it can not be dated more precisely than "early twelfth century or before", it may well be as early as the ninth century, and could reference a battle in either 480CE or 710CE. Either way, it contains another early reference to Arthur. The significant thing is that it is not a legendary tale of one of Arthur's deeds, but mentions him only in an incidental way.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in its entry for the year 501, reports the event this way: "Port and his two sons, Bieda and Maegla, came to Britain at the place called Portsmouth, and slew a young Welshman, a very noble man". This interpretation of Llogporth is that Llongborth (sea-port) was mostly likely Portchester, the westernmost of the Saxon Shore forts at the head of Portsmouth Harbour. According to John Morris (Age of Arthur), dates given in the early parts of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle are believed to be about 20 years off, due to an error by the 8th century historian, Bede, in dating the Adventus Saxonum, the coming of the Saxons.
The poem may also refer to the battle of Langport in 710 recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: "...and Ine and Nunna, his relative, fought against Geraint, king of the Welsh" (where Welsh=West Welsh of Devon). This Geraint is also recorded as corresponding with Aldhelm. If this is the case the reference to Arthur is an anchronism.
Geraint ab Erbin may be a composite figure based on the Gerontius who rebelled against Constantine in the early fifth century, a sixth-century Geraint in The Gododdin, and the later Geraint/Geruntius of Devon who fought the West Saxons in 710. The Welsh text is as edited and annotated by AOH Jarman in the Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin.

Marwnat Geraint

Rac gereint gelin kystut.
y gueleis e meirch can crimrut.
A gwidy gaur garv achlut.

Rac Gereint gelin dihad.
gueleis e meirch crimrut o kad.
A guydi gaur garu puyllad.

Rac gereint gelin ormes.
gueleis meirch can eu cress.
A guydi gaur garv achles.

En llogborth y gueleis vitheint.
a geloraur mvy no meint.
a guir rut rac ruthir gereint.

En llogborth y gueleis e giminad.
guir igrid a guaed am iad.
rac gereint vaur mab y tad.

En llogporth gueles e gottoev.
a guir ny gilint rac gvaev.
ac yved gvin o guydir gloev.

En llogporth y gueleis e arwev
guir. a guyar in dinev.
a gvydi gaur garv atnev.

En llogporth ygueleis e. y Arthur
guir deur kymynint a dur.
ameraudur llywiaudir llawr.

En llogporth y llas y gereint.
guir. deur o odir diwneint.
a chin rillethid ve. llatysseint.

Oet re rereint dan vortuid gereint
garhirion graun guenith.
Rution ruthir eririon blith.

Oet re rerent dan vortuid gereint.
garhirion graun ae bv.
Rution ruthir eriron dv.

Oet re rereint dan mortuid gereint
garhirion graun boloch.
Rution ruthir eriron coch.

Oet re rereint dan mortuid gereint
garhirion graun wehin.
Rution ruthir eririon gvinn.

Oet re rereint dan vortuid gereint.
garhirion grat hit.
turuf goteith ar diffeith mynit.

Oet re rereint. dan vortuid gereint
garhirion gran anchvant.
Blaur blaen eu raun in ariant.

Oet rerereint dan mortuid. gereint
garhirion. graun adas.
Rution ruthir eryrion glas.

Oet re rereint dan mortuid gereint.
garhirion graun eu buyd.

Elegy for Geraint

Before Geraint, the enemy's scourge,
I saw white horses, tensed, red,
After the war cry, bitter the grave

Before Geraint, the unflinching foe,
I saw horses jaded and gory from battle,
After the war cry, a great driving force

Before Geraint, the enemy of tyranny,
I saw horses white with foam,
After the war cry, a terrible torrent.

In Llongborth I saw the rage of slaughter,
And biers beyond all number,
And red-stained men from the assault of Geraint.

In Llongborth, I saw the clash of swords,
Men in terror, bloody heads,
Before Geraint the Great, his father's son.

In Llongborth I saw spurs,
And men who did not flinch from the dread of the spears,
Who drank their wine from the bright glass.

In Llongborth I saw the weapons,
Of men, and blood fast dropping,
After the war cry, a fearful return.

In Llongborth I saw Arthur's
Heroes who cut with steel.
The Emperor, ruler of our labour.

In Llongborth Geraint was slain,
A brave man from the region of Dyvnaint,
And before they were overpowered, they committed slaughter.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, wheat their fodder,
Ruddy ones, swooping like spotted eagles.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, grain was given them,
Ruddy ones, swooping like black eagles.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, restless over their grain,
Ruddy ones, swooping like red eagles.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, grain-scattering,
Ruddy ones, swooping like white eagles.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, with the pace of the stag,
With a nose like that of the consuming fire on a wild mountain.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, satiated with grain,
Grey ones, with their manes tipped with silver.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, well deserving of grain,
Ruddy ones, swooping like grey eagles.

Under the thigh of Geraint swift chargers,
Long their legs, having corn for food,
With the assault of brown eagles.

When Geraint was born, open were the gates of heaven,
Christ granted what was asked,
Beautiful the appearance of Glorious Prydain.