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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Wales: Builth

The Dirge of Llywelyn

By Gruffydd ap Yr Ynad Coch (fl. 1277–1282)

  • He had marched to South Wales, to meet some Cambrian partisans and English lords who had entered into a confederacy against Edward the First. The place of meeting was near Builth in Breconshire. He posted his army on a mountain in the neighborhood, and went alone and unarmed to the appointed spot; but the design having been betrayed, apparently by the persons implicated in the plot, instead of meeting with his confederates, the outposts were attacked by hostile forces. These made no impression, until a ford was shown where the river might be crossed, when a party of English horse surrounded the place where the prince stood. He in endeavoring to get back to his own army was followed by an English knight named Adam de Francton, who ran his spear through his body, not knowing it was Llywelyn.

  • FREQUENT is heard the voice of woe,

    Frequent the tears of sorrow flow;

    Such sounds as erst in Camlan heard,

    Roused to wrath old Arthur’s bard,

    Cambria’s warrior we deplore;

    Our Llywelyn is no more.

    Who like Llywelyn now remains,

    To shield from wrong his native plains?

    My soul with piercing grief is filled;

    My vital blood with horror chilled:

    Nature herself is changed, and lo!

    Now all things sympathize below!

    Hark how the howling wind and rain

    In loudest symphony complain!

    Hark how the consecrated oaks,

    Unconscious of the woodman’s strokes,

    With thundering crash proclaim he ’s gone;

    Fall in each other’s arms and groan!

    Hark how the sullen tempests roar!

    See how the white waves lash the shore!

    See how eclipsed the sun appears!

    See how the stars fall from their spheres!

    Each awful Heaven-sent prodigy,

    Ye sons of infidelity,

    Believe and tremble. Guilty land,

    Lo! thy destruction is at hand!

    Thou great Creator of the world,

    Why are not thy red lightnings hurled?

    Will not the sea at thy command

    Swallow up this guilty land?

    Why are we left to mourn in vain

    The guardian of our country slain?

    No place, no refuge, for us left,

    Of homes, of liberty, bereft;

    Where shall we flee? to whom complain,

    Since our dear Llywelyn’s slain?