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One Of The Four Pillars Of Song

A Welsh tale from the Red Book of Hergest


The king caused Taliesin to be brought before him, and he asked him to recite concerning the creation of man from the beginning; and thereupon he made the poem which is now called 'One of the Four Pillars of Song'.


The Almighty made,
Down the Hebron vale,
With his plastic hands,
Adam's fair form:

And five hundred years,
Void of any help,
There he remained and lay
Without a soul.

He again did form,
In calm paradise,
From a left-side rib,
Bliss-throbbing Eve.

Seven hours they were
The orchard keeping,
Till Satan brought strife,
With wiles from hell.


To him and his mate
Was given a spade,
To break up the soil,
Thus to get bread.

The wheat pure and white,
Summer tilth to sow,
Every man to feed,
Till great Yule feast.

An angelic hand
From the high Father,
Brought seed for growing
That Eve might sow;

But she then did hide
Of the gift a tenth,
And all did not sow
Of what was dug.


Black rye then was found,
And not pure wheat grain,
To show the mischief
Thus of thieving.

For this thievish act,
It is requisite,
That all men should pay
Tithe unto God.

Of the ruddy wine,
Planted on sunny days,
And on new-moon nights;
And the white wine.

The wheat rich in grain
And red flowing wine
Christ's pure body make,
Son of Alpha.


The wafer is flesh,
The wine is spilt blood,
The Trinity's words
Sanctify them.

The concealed books
From Emmanuel's hand
Were brought by Raphael
As Adam's gift,

When in his old age,
To his chin immersed
In Jordan's water,
Keeping a fast,

Moses did obtain,
In Jordan's water,
The aid of the three
Most special rods.


Solomon did obtain
In Babel's tower,
All the sciences
In Asia land.

So did I obtain,
In my Bardic books,
All the sciences
Of Europe and Africa.

Their course, their bearing,
Their permitted way,
And their fate I know,
Unto the end.

Oh, what misery,
Through extreme of woe,
Prophecy will show
On Troia's race.

  A coiling serpent
Proud and merciless,
On her golden wings,
From Germany.

She will overrun
England and Scotland,
From Llychlyn seashore
To the Severn.

Then will the Brython
Be as prisoners,
By strangers swayed,
From Saxony.

Their Lord they will praise,
Their speech they will keep,
Their land they will lose,
Except wild Walia.

  Till some change shall come,
After long penance,
When equally rife
The two crimes come.

Britons then shall have
Their land and their crown,
And the stranger swarm
Shall disappear.

All the angel's words,
As to peace and war,
Will be fulfilled
To Britain's race.

  Translated from the Welsh
by Lady Charlotte Guest (1849).
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