Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The War Song of the Dinas Fawr

A poem by Thomas Love Peacock

The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter.
We made an expedition;
We met a host and quelled it;
We forced a strong position
And killed the men who held it.

On Dyfed's richest valley,
Where herds of kine were browsing
We made a sudden sally
To furnish our carousing.
Fierce warriors rushed to meet us;
We met them, and o'erthrew them:
They struggled hard to beat us;
But we conquered them, and slew them.

As we drove our prize at leisure,
The king marched forth to catch us:
His rage surpassed all measure,
But his people could not match us.
He fled to his hall-pillars;
And, ere our force we led off,
Some sacked his house and cellars,
While others cut his head off.

We there, in strife bewildering,
Spilt blood enough to swim in;
We orphaned many children,
And widowed many women.
The eagles and the ravens
We glutted with our foemen:
The heroes and the cravens,
The spearmen and the bowmen.

We brought away from battle,
And much their land bemoaned them,
Two thousand head of cattle
And the head of him who owned them:
Ednyfed, King of Dyfed,
His head was borne before us:
His wine and his beasts supplied our feasts,
And his overthrow, our chorus.

Ednyfed, King of Dyfed
(born c.AD 373)
(Latin-Demetius, English-Edmund)

King Anwn Dynod's son. Ednyfed, alias Dyfed, appears to have been the personification of is father's powerbase in South-West Wales. He was probably born there in the late 4th century and hence was named after it. The area was then still known by the Roman name of the Civitas Demetarum, named after the local Celtic tribe of the Demetae. It is not clear whether his father died before or after the final withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain around AD 410, but Ednyfed certainly appears to have upheld the family honour and soon established a local monarchy.

Ednyfed married and had at least two sons, Gloitgwyn and Dyfnwal. The Dyfed dynasty continued with the former, down to his son, King Clotri. Dyfnwal may have inherited a sub-region of the kingdom, but his apparent son, Ynyr Gwent, moved eastward upon acquiring the kingdom of Gwent through an advantageous marriage.

1 comment:

John Cowan said...

Umm, you do realize that this is a satire on (supposed) Welsh bloodthirstiness, written by an Englishman?