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THE HIRLAS,

Translated from the ancient British of OWEN CYFELIOG, Prince of Powys.

ERE the sun was seen on the brow of the mountain, the clanging shields were heard in the valley: our enemies were apalled at the sound. The red armour of our warriors glittered till the noon of day. The foe fled from the borders; they fell in the chace like stones of hail; they panted like hunted wolves.

Let the Hirlas of Rhys overflow like the waters of the great river.

Where the golden banners declare the valour of Rhys, had the horn of hospitality long been used: it relieved the warriors, who fainted in the chace, and the traveller whose habitation is beyond the white mountains.

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Bring here, O cupbearer, the carved Hirlas of mirth, which glows with livid gold: let the sparkling mead slow around it.

Gwgwyn, prince of my table, son of mighty men, thine are the first honours of the Hirlas; small is the gift of gratitude; great were thy services. When thy ancestors stood in the fight, victory stood with them; loud were their voices in the battle, as the hygra of their charge.

Fill the golden Hirlas of mirth; attend to the merits of the warriors, lest they revenge on thee the disgrace of their honour.

See Gryffydh, with his uplifted crimson spear, expects it; he is the bulwark of the borders: sprung from Cynfyll and the dragons of the hill; his name shall ever live in the songs of the bards. As refreshed with the drink of mirth, his attendants fought, furious as the battle of the champions of the valley. Whilst the tomb of Pendragon shall stand on the hill, his same shall remain in the song.

Fill up the Hirlas to Eadnyfed, who sits like a god upon his broken armour: like a tempest he[Page 42] fell upon the shields of his foes: near Gyrthyn he slew an host.

The distant nations heard the noise of the battle of Maelor; the sound of the shields was heard in the mountains. Dreadful was the conflict as that of Bangor, when the warriors were trod to the ground. The princes fled: Morach beat the earth with his feet: Morvran fled over the mountain.

Fill up the golden Hirlas. Let the mead be borne to Sylliw, defender of our coast; to the lion of war, the son of Madoc; fierce as a wolf in the fight; soft as the mossy bed in peace.

To the sons of Essyner, bear it next: strong as two rocks they raged in the fight; the bravest champion falls before them; like storms they pierce the targets of the foe, sweeping down the multitude as the loud billows sweep the sand.

Fill up the badge of honour. To Tudor bear the golden Hirlas. Now to Moreiddeg, who, with his brother, assisted our cause: valour set[Page 43] upon their brows; like wolves they sought for blood. These are my chiefs.

Let the golden Hirlas go round to the seat of Morgan, whose name shall be heard in the songs of our children: the sight of his useless sword blasted my soul.

Fill up the badge of honour, the golden Hirlas. To Gronwys bear it; astonished I saw him stand like a rock on the spreading plain of Giveshun; he sustained the assault of an army. Upon the sandy bank of the sea his attendants did wonders. The chief of the foe was burnt in the fire of his rage, and the gleanings of the sword were lost in the stream.

In the heat of the battle, the son of Gryffydh burst his chains; Menrig again raged in the war. When the sun sat on the hill, we sung the song of victory.

Fill the Hirlas of mirth to all the chiefs of Oweyn, who are the wolves of the mountain. Madoc and Meyler are in soul one; they are our castles. The warriors of the hill stood round their chief,[Page 44] strong as the spear of Uther, swift in pursuit as the vapours of the night.

Fill the Hirlas with mead. Let us drink to the honour of the warriors, who fell in the war.

Bear it to Daniel, beauteous as the verdure of the forest, savage as the prowling wolf.

O cupbearer! great is thy service, in displaying the merits of the warrior; if thou hast not heard his fame, his spear flies to thy breast, and his followers drink thy blood.

Whilst the lamps of joy are burning, let the Hirlas go round to the warriors who fought at Llydcomb; they fought with the rage of lions; the mead is their due: they defended Cwrys.

Let the Hirlas go round. May the Ruler of all send us liberty and life.

D. B.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE HIRLAS, Translated from the ancient British of OWEN CYFELIOG, Prince of Powys.
Themes:
Genres: prose poem; imitation; translation; paraphrase

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Source edition

Miscellanies in Prose and Verse; by Thomas Chatterton, the supposed author of the poems published under the names of Rowley, Canning, &c. London: printed for Fielding and Walker, Pater-Noster Row, MDCCLXXVIII., 1778, pp. 40-44. xxxii,245,[3]p.,plates; 8⁰. (ESTC T39457; OTA K039720.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Thomas Chatterton