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Saturday, 28 March 2015

A haunting poem - The Song of Heledd

Researching a novel is great fun, and often gives me ideas for the plot that I would never have come up with otherwise.

When looking for details about Cynddylan, the 7th Century Welsh prince (and the hero of THE BREAKING DAWN), I came across a poem, translated from Old Welsh: the Canu Heledd – the Song of Heledd. In this poem, Cynddylan's sister, Heledd, laments her brother's death, and the attack and destruction of his hall.

This poem is so hauntingly beautiful that I'd like to share it with you:

The hall of Cynddylan is dark tonight,
Without fire, without a bed.
I will weep for a while; then I will be silent.

The hall of Cynddylan is dark tonight,
Without fire, without candle.
Save God, who will give me sanity?

The hall of Cynddylan is dark tonight,
Without fire, without light.
Grief for you comes over me.

The hall of Cynddylan, its roof is dark,
After the blest assembly.
Woe the good that does not come to it.

The hall of Cynddylan, you have become shapeless,
Your shield is in the grave.
While he was alive, there were no breached gates.

The hall of Cynddylan is forlorn tonight,
After the one who owned it.
Alas death, why does it spare me?

The hall of Cynddylan is not comfortable tonight,
On the top of the enduring rock,
Without lord, without host, without protection.

The hall of Cynddylan is dark tonight,
Without fire, without songs.
My cheeks are worn away by tears.

The hall of Cynddylan is dark tonight,
Without fire, without a warband.
Abundant my tears where it falls.

The hall of Cynddylan, it wounds me to see it,
Without roof, without fire.
My lord is dead, but I am alive.

The hall of Cynddylan lies waste tonight,
After steadfast warriors,
Elfan, and gold-wearing Cynddylan.

The hall of Cynddylan is desolate tonight,
After the respect which was mine,
Without men, without women who cared for it.

The hall of Cynddylan is quiet tonight,
After losing its lord.
Great merciful God, what shall I do?

The hall of Cynddylan, its roof is dark,
After the English destroyed
Cynddylan and Elfan of Powys.

The hall of Cynddylan is dark tonight,
After the race of the Cyndrwyn,
Cynon and Gwion and Gwyn.

The hall of Cynddylan, it is a wound to me each hour,
After the great company
That I saw on your hearth.


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