Monday, 21 December 2020

The Tercets - Llywarch Hen

Set is the snare, the ash clusters glow, 
Ducks plash in the pools; breakers whiten below; 
More strong than a hundred is the heart's hidden woe. 

Long is the night; resounding the shore, 
Frequent in crowds a tumultuous roar; 
The evil and good disagree evermore. 

Long is the night ; the hill full of cries;
O'er the tree-tops the wind whistles and sighs; 
Ill nature deceives not the wit of the wise. 

The greening birch saplings a-sway in the air 
Shall deliver my feet from the enemy's snare; 
It is ill with a youth thy heart's secrets to share. 

The saplings of oak in yonder green glade 
Shall loosen the snare by an enemy laid; 
It is ill to unbosom thy heart to a maid. 

The saplings of oak in their full summer pride 
Shall loosen the snare by the enemy tied; 
It is ill to a babbler thy heart to confide. 

The brambles with berries of purple are dressed; 
In silence the brooding thrush clings to her nest; 
In silence the liar can never take rest. 

Rain is without wet the fern plume; 
White the sea gravel fierce the waves' spume; 
There is no lamp like reason man's life to illume. 

Rain is without, but the shelter is near; 
Yellow the furze, the cow-parsnip is sere; 
God in Heaven, how could'st Thou create cowards here! 

Rain and still rain, dank these tresses of mine! 
The feeble complain of the cliff's steep incline; 
Wan is the main; sharp the breath of the brine. 

Rain falls in a sheet; the Ocean is drenched; 
By the whistling sleet the reed-tops are wrenched; 
Feat after feat; but Genius lies quenched. 

Llywarch Hen "Llywarch the Old" (c. 534 – c. 608) Wales
Translated by Alfred Perceval Graves
Source: Welsh poetry old and new, in English verse by Alfred Perceval Graves, Longmans, Green, and co., 1912

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