Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Here is second part of the Second Branch of the Story of Rhianon and Pryderi, namely:
The Three Unusual Arts of Teyrnion and Gwri Gwalt Euryn, and the Freeing of the Birds of Rhianon
III. THE QUEST OF ADEN FWYNACH THE THIRD BIRD, AND THE OPPOSITION OF THE HOSTS OF BARGOD Y BYD
IV. THE THREE KINSMEN OF THE FERRYMAN OF THE LAKE OF THE BARGOD, AND THE SPELL OF THE THREE PLACES IN WALES
V. THE SPELL OF THE WOOD, THE FIELD, AND THE MOUNTAIN, AND THE FREEING OF ADEN FWYNACH AT LAST
III. THE QUEST OF ADEN FWYNACH THE THIRD BIRD, AND THE OPPOSITION OF THE HOSTS OF BARGOD Y BYD
When he came out into the daylight, it was out of a mere cave in the vast rock that he came; there was nothing with the aspect of a caer there, and no tents of the encamped Immortals, but only mountains, along the borders of the world. He mounted Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd, and rode forward until he came to the Field of Llandybie.
It was evening when he came there, and the Well was under no spell of concealment from him. He dropped the sword, the Wind-wounder, into the Well; it turned into a blue feather and floated there, not different from what it had been at first. As soon as it touched the surface of the water, Tybie of the Fountain rose up before him.
"I marvel that you should come here," said she. "Aden Lonach is made free without your having freed her."
"Princess," said he; "not with the two that are freed, but with the one that is bound is my concern. For the sake of bringing success to Pryderi, will it be permitted to me to go in quest of Aden Fwynach?"
"Out of courtesy it will be permitted to you, and for no better reason than that," said she. "There will be no success attainable for you."
"If it please you, give me news concerning this bird."
"There are better colors on her wings than in the rainbow, and her singing is more magical than any other sound in the world. On account of her pre-eminence, neither Glanach nor Llonach will allow themselves to be compared with Mwynach. Her music is the passing of the heart from its bondage, the fulfilment of the ultimate concerns of the soul. No one would obtain success at freeing her, except Pryderi fab Pwyll; and even he would not obtain it, unless he were master of the third of the Three Unusual Arts of the Gods and Druids."
"Yes, indeed," said Gwri. "It is known to me that he would need the Spell of the Three Places."
"What Three Places are they?" said she.
"Three Places in Wales, and the power of the Gods that dwell in them," said Gwri.
"You have not named them," said she.
"Rarely are they named," said he. "The first is the Wood of Mon, and the second is this Field —"
"Water from the Fountain I give you, and this feather that Aden Fwynach dropped here." It was like a little cloud out of the sunset for brightness and beauty. "Put you the feather on the wind in the morning, and go forward where it may lead you. And heed you this counsel," said she. "Let neither peace nor war turn you from this quest. And partake not of food nor drink, and give no ear to song nor story, in the place where you may hear lies spoken; for it is the nature of Aden Fwynach to abhor falsehood, and it would lead to spells being put upon you, as they were put upon her also on the day when you were born."
With that she was taken into the viewlessness again.
In the cold of the dawn and the youth of the day he rose up and went forward by ways unknown, following the feather. By mid-morning he passed the ford, and the marshland and mountains of Caer Hun; but turned not to the leftward. At noon he rode by the head of the valley where Caer Drais from of old had been besieged by the Immortals. But the feather had no mind for crossing the torrent there, and he rode on towards the east and upward, into the lonely places of the mountains.
The torrent grew smaller and smaller as he drew nearer to its source; from pouring and pondering over mossy rocks, it was now but rippling over pebbly shallows, and now no more than tinkling and whispering down the peaty softness of the mountain side. There all path came to an end, and only the wild, sweet breast of the mountain rose and rose above and before him. "Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd," said he, "there will be no traveling farther for you." "Whatever may please you," thought the Wind-driver; "there is good grazing here." There was no concealing thought, the one from the other, between those two. The feather still drifted and glimmered upward, and made no pretense of crossing the runlet; long he followed it, climbing the steep. At the very eye and birthplace of the waters, a place greener than the emerald and lovely with rush-tufts and forget-me-not blossom, a sudden gust carried it to the left, and it was clear there would be passing from the Island of the Mighty again.
"Not without the moistening of eyelids," thought Gwri.
The foam and bewilderment of the world rose above him; innumerable swift dreams drove by like snowflakes on the wind. He heard the sound of rushing armies invisible above his head, a storm and torrent of swift loud hoofs and chariot wheels, a thunder and a grievous cry. It might have been the passing of ten ages before he felt the touch of his forefinger on his eyelids, and the moistening of them with the water of the Well. His feet were on firm ground again, and the Island of the Mighty was gone; but now there was no sudden vanishing of the mists, no cessation of bewilderment. What had been dim confusion took certitude and definition; the tumult of phantom armies came dropping down into a grim clamorous reality. He beheld the whirling smoke above him, filled with the rush and onsweep of the mighty; the cry that had been far and uncertain, became the hoarse roar of a warlike multitude. They gathered and circled, and drove downward and inward upon him. Gigantic chariots whirled and reeled and vanished; their scythes were of pale and subtle flame that leaped and flickered outward, licking the mists. Kneeling charioteers leaned forward, holding the reins; they were of stern, immortal beauty, dark flame upon their brows for hair. The warriors in the chariots leaned upon their immense spears of ashwood; their eyes far and flaming with visions of war, their lips apart, their throats strained with shouting. They gathered, whirling and circling, and drove on like the tempest, downward and nearer. Louder and louder grew the tumult, rarer the mist, prouder and sterner the menace of their aspect. Sunlight gleamed upon the spear-head, the ax-head, upon the long flaming brightness of the brand. Downward and inward, sweeping and circling they whirled, impetuous as the conflagration among the pine-trees of the valley, louder than the proud storm of the north. Streaming were their silken banners, with due adornment of lurid dragons. They were upon him; the immense chariots imminent, the menacing, flaming spears at point. There rose a shout, a crashing, a thunder, like the ninth tempest-driven billow upon the craggy headlands of the north. The sun shone out over a broad plain, and beyond it, over a lake of the width of the world. The feather of Aden Fwynach hung in the air above the shore; there was no sign nor rumor of an army anywhere. Gwri went forward.
As he was nearing the shore he heard a sudden shout, and beheld a chariot with its huge horses, motionless between him and the shore; and in it behind the kneeling charioteer, a warrior, dark, stern-visaged, handsome, and vaster in stature than any in the world since the days of the Emperor Arthur. Gwri knew him for one of the host that he had seen driving down out of the air. The wings upon his helmet were of lurid flame. His long, wind-blown mantle was dark crimson, and fastened with a brooch of rubies; his coat was of dark blue linen, adorned with silver ornaments of the value of fifty kine.
"The greeting of the god and the man to you," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"The greeting of the god and the man to you also," said the warrior. "Go back, if it please you, to the Island of the Mighty, while life remains in your body."
"Courteously I refuse this request," said Gwri. "I came here following yonder feather, and following it I will go forward beyond the border of the world."
"There will be no going forward without encountering the opposition of hosts."
"Make known to me what hosts they will be, if it please you."
"Mighty and invincible hosts they will be; the men of the King of Bargod y Byd," said the warrior. "Yonder is the Lake of the Bargod, and beyond it is Caer Hedd; therein dwells a company of the Immortals that have known no strife since the Crying of the Name. It would be unfitting that their delight should be broken by men from the Island of the Mighty, and therefore no one may pass the lake without overcoming the whole host of the Bargod; and it would not be possible for any man to overcome them."
"Opposition I desire, and extreme fighting, and not to go forward until usage shall have been complied with."
With that the warrior came down out of his chariot.
"I am the King's Distain of Bargod y Byd," said he. "It is my right to be the first upon the field of conflict, and to encounter the stranger, body against body before any other man of the host shall encounter him."
"It will be an honor to me to make combat with you," said Gwri. Thereupon he made bare his breast for the battle, according to the custom of the Gods and men of the Island of the Mighty. He raised the Dragon Shout, and went forward against the distain, and the distain against him. Body against body, they fought upon the shore until nightfall; it seemed to Gwri that he had dwelt in profound peace from the moment of his birth until then. At nightfall he slew the distain, and made a pile of his armor on the shore.
Then he turned to the charioteer. "Take you the armor," said he, "and bear it for a gift to the King of the Bargod."
He did so; and as soon as the armor was loaded upon the chariot, man and car and horses vanished. Then there came up out of the water another chariot, drawn by two immense, pearl-white, dimly luminous steeds. It was three times larger than the chariot of the distain, and formed of dark bronze adorned with shining sapphires. The warrior that stood in it was vaster of stature than the other, more handsome, prouder and darker of mien. His long mantle blew out from his shoulders towards the lake; it was of the color of pearl and mother-o'-pearl, and shone wanly in the dusk of the evening; on it was embroidered a carmine, ramping, fierce-eyed dragon, brighter and redder than the sunset cloud. His brooch was of the size of a king's breastplate, a vast, light-giving carnelian set with opals. His helmet glowed and burned against the night-sky, redder than the rising harvest moon. As for the spear whereon he leaned, it was a long, lithe, keen, impatient gainer of victories.
"The greeting of the god and the man to you," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"Good greeting to you also," said the other. "Yonder upon the hill is the guest-house," said he; "and therein there is feasting prepared for you tonight, and the songs of seven skilful institutional bards, and a bed of skins and silk upon the sleeping-bench. With the dawn of the morning you shall be free to go back into the Island of the Mighty if it please you; or if it please you, you shall experience fighting here."
"May it be requited to you for this excellent courtesy," said Gwri; "I will experience the fighting. And may it be requited better, if the courtesy is extended."
"In what way might it be extended?"
"Rest is better after labor than before it," said Gwri. "Were I given my free choice, I would have the fighting first."
"You shall have it," said the other, "and no cause for complaint of stint; ample fighting shall you have. Where one opposed you in the daytime, ten shall make war upon you during the night, and the least of them stronger, and more valiant, and better at strategy than the man you have slain. I am the Penteulu of the War-host of the King of Bargod y Byd," said he; "it will be my right and privilege to be the tenth man at the head of them."
Thereupon he turned towards the lake, and sounded the hai atton of the men of the Bargod upon his horn; and having sounded it came down out of his chariot. Nine stern, tall, princely warriors rose up out of the lake, and came forward. They were equal in strength and beauty, and in richness of dress and armor, to their lord the penteulu. The dullest of their ten horned helmets glowed like the crimson setting sun. The poorest of their glimmering, pearl-pale mantles was embroidered with a ruby-colored, rose-rich dragon. The least of their keen, silver-headed spears would have been capable of victories on the confines of hell. Courteously they greeted Gwri; courteously in return he greeted them.
"It is a delight to us," they said, "to afford you this warfare; we take pleasure in your pleasure of being one man against ten."
"Greater will be the honor of opposing you," said he, "than would be the honor of opposing a hundred mortals."
Then he raised up the Dragon Shout, and went forward against them; and the ten of them went forward against him, and the penteulu the tenth at the head of them. He remembered the warfare he had waged against the distain; it seemed to him to have been a peaceful and soothing dream. He slew three of them before the rising of the moon. He slew three of them between her rising and her setting. He slew three in the darkness before the dawn. At dawn he slew the penteulu also and made ten piles of their armor beside the shore.
Then he turned to the charioteer of the penteulu, that waited in the chariot. "Take you the armor for a gift to the King of the Bargod," said he. The charioteer came down and gathered up the armor; as soon as it was loaded in the chariot, man and car and horses vanished.
"Will there be going forward now?" thought Gwri; and turned towards the dawn-white water. As he turned, a vast chariot rose up out of the lake, drawn by two beautiful, mist-gray steeds, compared with which the horses of the penteulu were no better than ill-kept yearling foals. The chariot was three times greater than the chariot of the penteulu had been; it was formed of unpolished silver inlaid with turquoise stones for the sake of adornment and magical virtue. The warrior that stood in it was three times more handsome and better equipped than the penteulu; and he was greater in stature. His long, wind-blown, silken mantle was of the color of the sky, with whiteness of clouds drifting and wandering over it. His swan-winged, beautiful, regal helmet was of silver, whiter than the Wyddfa when the sunlight glitters on the snows of January on it. His brooch was of peerless pearl, and it was larger than a warrior's shield. The well-combed hair hung down over his shoulders, darker and more lustrous than the starling's wing. His shield was one great gleaming moon of silver; the sight of his spear alone would have put the leagued and hosted demons of Abred to flight.
"The greeting of heaven and man to you, in princely courtesy and warlike kindliness," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"Even better be it to you than to me," said the other. "I am the King's Heir of Bargod y Byd, and I come to counsel you to return to the Island of the Mighty before harm befall you."
"Courteous is the counsel," said Gwri; "and courteously it will be refused."
"Even if it be refused," said the king's heir, "there is further courtesy to follow it. The King of the Bargod has received the gifts of armor that you have sent him, and he desires to requite you for them regally. For that reason the need of fighting will not be imposed upon you today, nor tomorrow, nor until such time as you may desire it. Yonder on the hill is the guest-house; therein you shall feast until noon and drink until night, when food for a hundred men shall be set before you. There shall be ten skilful institutional bards to sing verses to you, and ten more to relate stories; and whensoever you may desire rest, there shall be silk and furs laid upon an ivory sleeping-bench for you, and the ivory inlaid with bronze and opals."
"Rarely have I been offered the like of this regal courtesy," said Gwri. "May it be requited to you profusely; and may it be requited to you even better, if the courtesy is extended."
"What extension might there be, in the name of heaven?"
"Rest after labor is better than rest before it," said Gwri. "I shall have little appetite for feasting, until I have crossed and re-crossed yonder lake."
"There will be no crossing of it, without encountering opposition first," said the king's heir.
"I should enjoy the feasting better, if I came to it after encountering the opposition," said Gwri.
"It shall be according to your desire," said the king's heir. "Where you opposed ten in the night, you will encounter a hundred during the day, and the worst of them stronger and fiercer and more skilful than the best of the ten, and I myself will be the hundredth at the head of them."
"This will be a main privilege for me," said Gwri. "An unwonted delight will it be, indeed."
Thereupon the king's heir of the Bargod came down out of his chariot and blew the hai atton on his horn. For answer there came a mighty warshout, and a company of nineteen and fourscore men came running up out of the lake. In strength and beauty of aspect, in dignity of mien and splendor of accoutrements, they were none of them less than their lord the king's heir. With extreme courtesy they greeted Gwri, and not less courteously he greeted them. Any one would have known that they were all the songs of sovereign rulers, accustomed to wars upon the borders of the world. As soon as the greetings were finished, they formed in battle-array on the shore. Gwri raised the Dragon Shout, and went forward blithely against them, and they went forward against him. The least of them were much better men than the best of the men of the penteulu. Exceedingly vehement was their onslaught; with exceeding vehemence Gwri opposed them. He slew twenty of them before noon, and twenty more between noon and dusk. Between dusk and moonrise he slew twenty, and twenty before the moon set. Between that and dawn the twenty that were left gathered together their strength, and remembered their prowess, and thundered upon him a rage to shake the mountains. Man by man he put quietude upon them, and released them from their bodies, and at dawn he slew the king's heir also. Then he made ten huge, glittering piles of their armor upon the beach, and gave them to the charioteer to take to the king.
"There will be no need for him to take them," said a voice from the lake. "I myself am here to receive them, and to give thee counsel also."
Gwri turned, and beheld a chariot drawn up out of the lake by three immense, chestnut-colored stallions of supreme strength and beauty. With every motion of their shell-formed hoofs, they raised up waves of spray and foam as high as the shaft of the chariot. The dawn sun burned upon their burning, tossing manes. The chariot was of gold, richly adorned with precious rubies. He that stood in it, leaning on his golden, flame-bright, terrible spear, was huger of form and limb, sterner and nobler of bearing, loftier of beauty, and more magnanimous of soul than any of the others had been. His winged helmet was brighter than the noon sun. His hair and his long beard were of the color of the wheat-field at bright noonday, three days before the harvest. His long mantle was more purple than the purple-flowing wave; on it was embroidered a regal dragon in the purest gold. His brooch was of diamonds, topazes and rubies. His coat was of woven gold, ruddier than the gold of the dragon. His breastplate was like the sun; the sheath of his sword brighter than the lightning.
"The greeting of the god and the man to the King of the Bargod," said Gwri. "Courteously and with respect is it given. Make known to me the counsel, if it please you."
"Courteous and honorable be the greeting to you also," said the King of the Bargod. "The counsel will be, that you return to the Island of the Mighty, after receiving courtesy and entertainment here, and before the nature of war and strife and fighting is made known to you."
"Courteous and kindly is the counsel," said Gwri. "Courteously and in a kindly manner will it be refused. I came here for the sake of going forward, after encountering what opposition might be prepared."
"Opposition you shall have, at the hands of a thousand men," said the king; "and I myself will be the thousandth at the head of them. The puniest of them all will be ten times better and stronger than any of the men you have slain."
"An exceptional delight and honor will this be to me, truly," said Gwri.
"Without stint or reservation it shall be accorded to you; all the battles you have fought hitherto shall seem like peace and quietude in comparison with this. But first courtesy shall be extended to you, in accordance with custom, and in consideration of your valor and generosity and mighty deeds. I myself will accompany you to the guest-house, and therein you shall abide for seven days and seven nights. Each day I shall see that collops cooked and peppered are set before you, and an abundance of luscious wine and mead; food for fifty men in the morning, and food for a hundred at night. Each day there shall be seven-score skilful, wise institutional bards, the best in the world, to sing songs to you, and seven-score more to relate stories; and at dawn and at sunset you shall bathe in a cauldron of cure to strengthen you; and there shall be a sleeping-bench of gold for you at night, inlaid with the turquoise and encrusted with the diamond; greater will its value be than the value of ten thousand kine, and on it shall be spread coverings of embroidered silk, and pictures of the Gods and of dragons worked upon them; and beneath the coverings, the down of sea-birds deeper than the height of a man."
"Excellent is this courtesy indeed," said Gwri; "may it be requited to you in ample measure; may you lack hereafter nothing that you desire. Hardly might such hospitality be surpassed even in the Island of the Mighty; even in the house of the King of London; yet it might be surpassed."
"Make known to me how it might be surpassed," said the king, "and out of gratitude, nothing shall be refused to you."
"It might be surpassed in this way," said Gwri. "Rest after exertion is pleasant and honorable; but rest before it is a sorrow to the brave. Disgrace would fall upon the whole kindred of the Cymry, were I to accept feasting before experiencing warfare. I came not here for the sake of consuming food, truly. If the fighting might continue without intermission, the courteous hospitality you have offered me would be surpassed."
"Be it requited to you for making this known to me," said the king. "The courtesy shall be extended in accordance with your desires." Thereupon he lifted a dazzling horn of diamond to his lips, and sounded the hai atton of the Bargod; and having sounded it, came down out of his chariot. The lake side lighted with the glory of a thousand dawns; nine hundred and nineteen and four score were the men that came up out of the water. The smallest of them was huger of stature than the king's heir had been; the poorest in adornment shone more resplendently. Courteously they greeted Gwri; courteously in return he greeted them. Noble were the words they spoke concerning the men of the Island of the Mighty; noble words he spoke again concerning the magnanimity and lofty lineage of the men of Bargod y Byd. It seemed to them all that his friendship or his enmity would be equally delightful to them; it seemed to him that it would be equally pleasant to him to oppose them in conflict or to feast with them in the hall.
"Will it please you that the strife should have its opening?" said they.
"It will," said he.
With that they drew up in battle array on the shore, and sounded the warshout of the Bargod; and Gwri raised up the Shout of the Dragon, and mutually they went forward against each other. Proud and vehement was the flight of spears; hosted Abred would have been frightened at the sight of it. But he made circles about him with his sword, and reaped the heads from the spears as they flew. Such were his skill and strength and courage, and his complete valor, and the learning he had obtained from Twrf Fliant his foster-father, and the lofty, indomitable nature of his soul, that they obtained no success or advantage against him. He fought until noon and slew two hundred; he fought until dusk and slew three hundred more. Between dusk and midnight he put quietude upon two hundred and fifty of them. Between that and dawn, the two hundred and fifty that were remaining gathered their strength, and remembered their old-time exploits and renown, and came against him in such a manner that it seemed to him that they had been at playful sport until then. Man by man he prevailed against them, and reaped them, and caused them to quit their bodies in delight at the nature of the fighting they had experienced. By dawn he had slain two hundred and two score and nine.
"Are you content with the fighting?" said he.
"I am not content," said the King of the Bargod; "even though it has been such fighting as I have not remembered. There will be no going forward for you until I am slain also."
They went forward with their fighting until the sun had shaken himself free from the edge of the world, and shone wanly over the mist-hidden waters. "Are you content now?" said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"Indeed, I am content, being slain," said the King of the Bargod. Then he said, "Pleasant is death to me truly, having become at last acquainted with the nature of fighting and war. Delightful it is to me to have received this satisfaction."
With that he rose up unwearied from his slain body; and he and the whole of his host were taken into the viewlessness. As for Gwri, he went up to the guest-house, and bathed in the cauldron of cure, and ate what food he needed, and slept for three days and three nights without waking. Here is what was made known to him in his sleep and dreams: he saw the King of the Bargod, and the king's heir, and the penteulu, and the lordly distain, and the whole of their proud, magnanimous host; they circled about him in the air, driving their flame-rich chariots; unwounded they had arisen; in great splendor they went forth, circling, wheeling, flaming, raising song. Here is the song they raised, so far as he was able to remember it afterwards:
Though we were slain full many a time,
Full many a time have we risen again;
He that would harken the ages' rhyme
Must meet us here by the border main,
Must bare his breast to the spears sublime
Till the mortal life in his life be slain.
And some shall fail for a thousand years,
And some shall win in a night and day;
And the eyes of some shall be blind with tears,
And the hearts of some shall be always gay;
But come they singing, or dumbed with fears,
They shall win, ere they wend their onward way.
And he that comes and is slain on the shore,
Shall he meet no more with the Guardian Clan?
Hath he come to the peace at the end of war,
The peace that was ere the worlds began?
Nay — age on age shall the combat roar,
Till that which was man is more than man.
For we that bide by the brink of time,
That have fallen so oft, and arisen again,
Should we leave unhedged with our spears sublime
The world's far edge — should we rest, being slain,
The ages were reft of their rhythm and rhyme,
And the star in the heart of the world would wane.
IV. THE THREE KINSMEN OF THE FERRYMAN OF THE LAKE OF THE BARGOD, AND THE SPELL OF THE THREE PLACES IN WALES
At the dawn of the fourth morning he awoke, and rose up stronger than ever he had been in his life, and went down to the shore. The waters of the lake were hued like the turquoise and the beryl, clearer and sweeter than any waters in mortal lands. Neither to the right nor to the left was there any sign of boundary or limit to them; nor was there any farther shore visible between the lake and the sky before him. The feather of Aden Fwynach, that had floated in the air without falling since he came to the Bargod, now drifted out from land, blown by the gentlest wind in the world. "There must be crossing this sea," he said; "and a marvel if there is no ferry."
Then he shouted: "Is there a ferryman?" "There is," came the cry. It seemed as if a pink rose dropped from heaven on to the far water, and began to glow and grow there. Out of the heart and middle glory of it, a boat drew towards the shore; it was shaped like the petal of a wild rose from the hedgerows of Cemais, and fashioned of one great, luminous rose-pearl, of beautiful curves and lines. In the boat stood the ferryman, dark, quiet-eyed, of subtle grace and dignity; he was one of the Beautiful Family of Gwyn the son of Nudd, and for hair on his head he had plumes of azure flame.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn. "Will there be any crossing the lake?"
"There will," said the ferryman; "and you shall not be chargeable for it." With that he drew in to the shore, and Gwri went into the boat with him.
"If it please you," said Gwri; "I desire to follow yonder feather."
"We will follow it," said the ferryman. He sat down in the front of the boat, and began his rowing. They went forward until noon in silence; then the ferryman said:
"Have you come here from the Island of the Mighty?"
"I have," said Gwri.
"There was a kinsman of mine dwelling there in the days of the Emperor Arthur," said the ferryman. "He was a man of whom no one ever spoke less than good. I desire to hear tidings of him."
"What name was with your kinsman?" said Gwri.
"Ol the son of Olwydd, according to his nature," said the ferryman. "Seven years before he was born, his father's swine were stolen; and when he grew up to be a man, he tracked the swine through the three worlds, and brought them back in seven herds without losing one of them. He had a keen sense of smell. He could track the bee from the blossom to the hive three days after her gathering the honey; and he could tell whether she had taken it from the rose or from the meadowsweet, from the hawthorn or from the heather. The path of last year's salmon through the sea, Ol could easily follow it swimming blindfold. Indeed now," said he, "I should be discourteous beyond bounds if I permitted you to remain longer without hearing the story of Ol."
Thereupon he began narrating it with marvelous bardic skill, chanting it, and weaving it together with pleasant consonances and assonances, delightful to the hearing. As he went forward with it, the air darkened with pansies blooming out of invisibility, reddened with crimson roses that had no stem nor root. The scent of them spread out over the lake; it filled the whole region between the water and the sky; it was sweeter than honey; it was far sweeter than honey. Sweet and heavy, laden with soft heaviness, it breathed out from the purple of the pansies, from the rich imperial crimson of the roses. The ferryman stopped his rowing, that he might have his two hands free for narrating the story. With pleasant consonance and assonance, with delightful rhythm, he unfolded the achievements of the son of Olwydd, and multiplied the slumber-laden breathing of the flowers. Sleep came drifting down about the boat. The scent of roses and pansies rose up like mists along the edge of the world in the evening; there was no seeing the feather where it floated in the air; the boat followed it no longer, but wandered northward with the current. "There must be an end of this narrating the story of Ol," thought Gwri.
"The third day," said the ferryman, "he came into the Cantref of Mabwnion, and there was a caer there —"
"Not so," said Gwri; "it was not to the Cantref of Mabwnion that he came."
"Wherefore sayest thou this?" said the ferryman, and sighed.
"Out of regard for accuracy, and the art of story-telling," said Gwri. (And true it was, that Ol was never in the Cantref of Mabwnion during his life, so far as there is knowing). "Although he came not to Mabwnion, either on the third day or on the fourth, yet it was to a place in Wales that he came; and indeed, to three places. Unless the nature of them were known, no one could tell the story."
"What was the nature of them?" said the ferryman. "What places were they, in the name of heaven?"
"I will make the first of them known to you," said Gwri, "that you may relate this story accurately from this out." Then he brought into his mind the power of the Spell of the Three Places, and whispered it on the wind; and as he did so, dipped his right forefinger into the horn. "Look you now," said he; "and further, give you heed!" Therewith he shook out his forefinger at the ferryman, to cause heeding and remembrance in him; and it happened that, with the shaking, a drop of the water fell on the ferryman's forehead. "The place that he came to on the third day was the Wood of Mon," said he; "it was the Wood of Mon, by the power of the Gods that dwell there."
Sleep and all sweet scent and dimness were blown away in an instant from the face of the lake; the feather shone again in the air to the south and east of them, and the boat turned of its own will to follow it. "Ah!" said the ferryman, sighing; "the story is known to thee. We will go forward."
"And well it was that the story was known to me," thought Gwri; "and well that it was to the Wood of Mon that he came."
They went forward in silence until the sky was aflame with the sunset behind them, and the feather gleamed pale like a rising star in the opal dimness of the east. The ferryman stopped his rowing, and fell to musing and cogitation.
"Wherefore stay you your rowing?" said Gwri.
"Considering I was," said the ferryman. "Seeking remembrance what island it was you left, before you came to the Lake of the Bargod."
"It was the Island of the Mighty," said Gwri.
"If you come from that island," said the ferryman; "I should desire to learn from you tidings concerning a kinsman of mine that dwelt there in the days of the Emperor Arthur, if you know any."
"What name was with your kinsman?"
"Clust," said the ferryman; "Clust fab Clustfeinydd, truly. He was a musician. If he were buried fifty cubits beneath the earth, he could hear the ant when she rose from her nest in the morning, as far as from Gelliwic in Cornwall to Pen Blathaon in North Britain. He could hear the dew falling, and the wheat ripening, and the star shining, and the rose breaking into bloom. He could hear the language of the pilchard and the salmon. He could hear the hammer and chisel of the bee, when she builds a storeroom for her plunder from the flowers. Also he could hear the imagination of the oak-tree. Evil be upon me, if I refuse to relate to you this story."
Thereupon he began it. Music rose up in the east and in the west, and floated and drifted towards them over the pearl-pale water. It came from the roses and gold of the west, as if the sun were harping beyond the brim of the world; marvelous spells, secret, druidic, mystery-laden music, drifted in towards them over the rosy-rippling water. It came from the blue dimness of the east, as if night were harping beyond the brim of the world; as if seven secret enchanters were whispering spells there; cold, lone whisperings of music, more melodious than dream, drifted in towards them over the wavering turquoise of the water. The ferryman forgot his oar, that he might have his two hands free for narrating the story. The boat forgot her following the feather, and wandered southward with the current. The feather herself forgot her glimmering in the east. The story of Clust was seventeen times better than the story of Ol; and the art and skill of the ferryman were seventeen times greater in relating it. No words but were linked together with subtle consonance and assonance and rhyme. With the music of his voice, his chanting, the whole lake became slumberous and a mystery. The power in the music for raising slumber was seventeen times greater than the power in the scent of the flowers had been. Drowsiness overtook the pallid stars, and the wan sickle of the moon at her rising. "There must be an end of this narrating the story of Clust," thought Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"He came to Caer Deirtu in the Cantref of Gwinionydd, on the thirteenth day," said the ferryman, "and as soon as he came into the valley of the caer, he heard music from the Harp of Teirtu —"
"Woe is me for my birth and pre-existences," said Gwri. "There is no sorrow in the world so keen and bitter to me, as the hearing of lies and inaccuracy."
The ferryman sighed deeply. "What lies or inaccuracy were you hearing?" said he.
"Inaccuracy in the relating of this story," said Gwri. "Heaven knows it was not in Caer Deirtu, nor in the Cantref of Gwinionydd that he heard that harp; and he did not come there during his whole life, so far as is known, much less did he come there on the thirteenth day. Yet it was to a place in Wales that he came; and indeed, to three places."
"I marvel that you should say this," said the ferryman. "What places were they, since it is known to you?"
Without concealment or inexactitude Gwri answered him; it was unlikely that a foster-son of Twrf Fliant should have been without knowledge. "The first was the Wood of Mon," said he; "I made known that to you before. Now heed you what the second of them was." He whispered the Spell on the wind, and caused the power of it to be like an unseen mist in the air about them. Then he shook out his finger at the ferryman again, to enforce heeding and remembrance of what should be revealed; and with that, shook out water from the horn on to his breast. "The second place was a Field," said he. "The Field of the Fountain of Tybie at Llandybie it was, by the power of the Gods that dwell there."
In a moment the whole marvel of music went shuddering down and away into silence. The boat turned of its own will to follow the feather, that shone now like a little moon low in the heavens eastward. The ferryman picked up his oar from the bottom of the boat, and went forward with his rowing. "The story is known to you already," he said, and sighed even more sorrowfully than before.
During that night they traversed the water in silence, and at dawn there was no land to be seen anywhere, either in front or behind them. At an hour after dawn the ferryman was taken with musing and meditation again, so that he paused in his rowing.
"Wherefore is there pausing?" said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"Considering and cogitating I was," said the ferryman. "Is it from the Island of the Mighty that you come?"
"Indeed, it is from the Island of the Mighty," said Gwri.
"It would be better to me than receiving gifts," said the ferryman; "and that though they were generously given, by one accustomed to ample bounteousness, and neither stint nor afterthought in the giving, nor expectation of return — if I might obtain news of a kinsman of mine that dwelt in that island in the days of the Emperor Arthur. From that time until now I have heard no tidings of him, and it is unknown to me whether he is alive or dead."
"What?" said Gwri, "have you three kinsmen?"
"I have," said the ferryman; "and the third was dearer to me, and more gifted than either of the others; and his mind was of a more penetrating quality. Drem the son of Dremidyd was the name with him," said he; "he was an astronomer. When the gnat arose in the morning with the sun, Drem could see her from the top of Pengwaed in Cornwall to the bottom of Dinsol in the North; and furthermore, he could easily count the hairs of her beard. Of a winter's night, when the sky was cloudiest, it would be easy to him to count the stars of heaven, both the brighter and the dimmer ones."
While he was talking, the air above the lake bloomed out into flowers lovelier of aspect than the wild March daffodil, than the foxglove of Garth Maelor, than the blossom of the meadowsweet beside the river, than the frail, white wood-anemone beside the meadow fountain. The waters about them glowed and burned with the hues of the opal, the ruby and the amethyst. Faces looked up out of the waves, of such beauty as might blind the eye that beheld them; faces looked down out of the unclouded sky, whose beauty might have caused strife among the holy Druids of the Gorsedd. The ferryman laid down his oar that he might free his two hands for the story; the boat began drifting backwards with the current to the west. Seven times greater was the peril of dreams and forgetfulness then, even than it had been before; on account of the potency of the faces in the waves and in the sky, and of the slumber-laden spell in the blossoms. "Indeed, indeed," thought Gwri; "there must be preventing this relating the story of Drem fab Dremidyd."
"Listen you now while I make this known to you," said the ferryman; "accurately and with extreme veracity shall it be told." He chanted it with such bardic skill, as made the skill he had used before seem mere ignorance and uncouth narration. "From Gelliwic," said he, "Drem could, in a twinkling, shoot the wren between the two legs upon Esgair Oerfel in Ireland, and that either by day or by night, either with eyes open or with eyes closed."
"Woe is me!" said Gwri; "what sorrow is this wherewith I am afflicted."
"What sorrow is it?" asked the ferryman.
"Accurate veracity you promised me, in the narration of this story; and what you are saying is but half true and half untrue."
"It seemed to me that it was true," said the ferryman, mournfully.
"It is not true," said Gwri. "Not from Gelliwic could he shoot the wren; his eyesight was not equal to that."
"From whence was it that he could shoot her, in heaven's name?" said the ferryman.
"From a place in Wales it was; indeed, from three places. He was such a one, that it would have been beneath his dignity to have traveled in other lands. It is a marvel to me that you should not have known this."
"I knew it not," said the ferryman. "What places were they?"
"The first and the second I made known to you before; they were the Wood of Mon, and the Field of Tybie, at Llandybie in Iscennen; marvelous is your power at forgetting." Then he dipped his finger again, making the power of the Spell. "Heed now what the third place was," said he; and shook out his finger to enforce it, causing water from the fountain to fall upon the crown of the ferryman's head. "It was the Wyddfa Mountain in Gwynedd, and in Arfon, that it was," said he; "and in the four quarters of the world there is not the equal of it, and hath not been, and will not be throughout the age of ages. The Wyddfa Mountain it was, by the power of our Father Hu Gadarn that dwells there. Those were the Three Places," said he; "heed you them, and remember, and it shall be the better for you while you remain alive: the Wood, the Field, and the Mountain."
"Alas!" sighed the ferryman; "this also is known to you. We will come to land."
V. THE SPELL OF THE WOOD, THE FIELD, AND THE MOUNTAIN, AND THE FREEING OF ADEN FWYNACH AT LAST
It was midway between dawn and noon when Gwri landed and set forth to journey over sunlit hills and valleys of apple-trees; an orchard vaster than any in the world at that time; and if vaster, more beautiful. It was the peculiarity of the trees that they were adorned with clouds of bloom, the white bloom and the pink; and not only bloom, but green young apples; and furthermore, ruddy golden fruit such as even the unhungry and ungluttonous would desire. Amidst them the linnet flitted perpetually, and ousels gifted with supernatural song; and the missel-thrush perched on the branches, strewing penillion. There would be lawns and valley-bottoms, beauteous with a million daffodils; and beneath the trees, flaming hosts of the crocus, purple and white and saffron; such beauty and delight have hardly been made known to the eye of man at any time. On among the apple-bloom, through the bird-music, the feather drifted shining; and beauty and music increasing, increasing, with every step that he took following it. When the sun was nearing the west of heaven, he came to the edge of the orchard and looked down over a soft, lawny valley, not deep; beyond it rose a palace glowing against the sunset, that had the appearance of being built of the rose-pearl and the mellow topaz. On the lawn before the palace were a hundred youths and a hundred maidens; their laughter was without loudness or harshness, their motions fairer than the motions of the swan upon the lake, statelier than the motions of the crane in the marshland. The least and worst of them was equal in grace and beauty to the best of the Family of Gwyn ab Nudd who ride the night winds and the water foam among the mountains, and enjoy unbroken beauty and merriment until the Day of Doom. With dignified courtesy they met him, and greeted and praised him; commenting upon the fame and noble lineage of the men of the Island of the Mighty, and desiring that it would please him to quit wandering, and abide there with them in delight from that out.
They led him towards the door of the palace; "for the feast will be prepared," said they. At the door as he was going in with them, the feather of Aden Fwynach lighted down in his breast, and he knew that the bird herself would be within. Richer and more beautiful was everything that he saw there than anything he had attained seeing until then. Never should the footsole fall upon the flagstone, by reason, not of strewn rushes, but of rich skins of the bear and the beaver, of beautiful skins from the east and west of the world. Never should the eye behold the wall, by reason of armor carven of the amethyst and the diamond, and of priceless hangings of silk and taffeta adorned with stories of Ceugant, Gwynfyd, and Abred, the Three Circles of the World.
On the dais at the head of the hall the King of Caer Hedd was enthroned. His throne was of sun-kindled amethyst, and the mere setting eyes on it was equal in satisfaction to having seven ships of wealth and merchandise in the harbor, after their wandering the wide waters, and meeting with neither harm nor loss. On his head was a crown with nine proud acorns of polished diamond in it, the least of which, for pure beauty, was beyond the evening or the morning star; here was more satisfaction in looking at the crown, than in winning seven victories over war-wise sovereigns. As for the king himself, there was no one in the hall that was the equal of him, or nearly the equal of him, either for an aspect of serene dignity, or for handsomeness of visage, or for the knowledge of weaving spells, or for the power and peril of them when they were woven. Here is the likeness of him, so far as it may be given: his hair and beard were long and curling, and yellower than the outer petals on the bloom of the daffodil; his voice was more harmonious, and of sweeter modulation, than the coo and croon and rippling murmur of a runlet amid the rushes, in a peaty field on the mountain. His dark and starry eyes were now bright with a laughter beyond sound, now far and dimly glimmering with quietude and dreams of arcane magical beauty.
But if it should be thought that there was a cage above his throne, and Aden Fwynach imprisoned in it, false that thought would be, for there was no cage there. The whole hall was melodious with bird-music, as if there were a thousand such as she there; and indeed, unnumbered twinkling, jewel-luminous birds were flitting and sweeping and gleaming among the rafters, keeping alive their rich, harmonious, dream-wild confluence of sounds continually. They were all of them equal in beauty to the Birds of Rhianon; no one would have known if Mwynach were among them or not.
"The greeting of the god and the man to the King of Caer Hedd," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn.
"The best of greetings, and the kindliest of welcomes to you also," said the king. "As long as you remain in the caer, there shall be courtesy and entertainment, feasting and music for you; and when the gifts are given to the guests in the morning, they shall be in your hands at the beginning; and neither on the third day nor in the third year will it be asked of you to make known the nature of your quest."
"May it be requited to you for this courtesy," said Gwri. "Less than fitting would it be, were I not to make it known to you now. I come here as an ambassador from Tybie the daughter of Hu, from the Well at Llandybie, in quest of Aden Fwynach the Bird of Rhianon. Her music is the passing of the heart from its bondage, the fulfilment of the ultimate concerns of the soul; and therefore it is an ill thing for the Island of the Mighty to be without her."
"There are a thousand birds here whose music is that, and more than that," said the king. "We have never heard even a rumor of Aden Fwynach."
"It is the place where falsehood is spoken," thought Gwri. Thereupon they sat down to meat.
"Let the place of the king's heir of Caer Hedd be given to this chieftain of the Cymry," said the king. "Let every one that opens and shuts the eye, and every one that beholds the light, show him respect, and serve him. Let not collops cooked and peppered be lacking to him."
The feasting went forward, and Gwri in the place of the king's heir opposite to the king. Neither among the foster-sons of Teyrnion Twrf Fliant, nor in the court of the Crowned King in London, when the chief bards and princes of the Island of the Mighty were gathered there; neither in Europe nor in Africa nor in the Islands of Corsica, had he seen food of such delicate aspect so well served in such beautiful food-vessels. Always during the feasting and conversation, the birds amidst the rafters strewed forth their low, sweet, harmonious utterance; neither so loud as to break across the spoken word or the laughter, nor so quiet as not to come between those and silence, and adorn every one of them with such adornment as the foxglove has from the mountain hedgerow; or the green shore-wave from the gleaming sand before, and the glittering, unstable, purple-running blueness behind it; or the turquoise stones of Asia from their place in the bronze brooch of a war-loving king; or the song of the blackbird at dawntime, from the motions of the breeze amid the sun-dappled leafage, in the green and wildwood palaces of May.
The King of Caer Hedd looked at Gwri, and saw that he left the best of the food untouched; that was vexation to the king, by reason of the magical subtleties in the food; whoever might eat it, it would cause forgetfulness in him of the places where he had played in his boyhood, and of the faces that had been about him in the world.
"What troubles the mind of the foster-son of Teyrnion?" said he. "What troubles the mind of the prince from Ynys Wen? The most delicate food is as little desirable to you, as chaff and stubble from the fields of September after the harvest."
"Excellent it is truly," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn. "There will hardly be the equal of it in the Island of the Mighty, much less in the rest of the world. Even the scent of it would be contentment for the hungry. Thinking and considering I was; not accusing the food."
"Unless the thought were made known to us, we should deem that the food was unpleasing to you."
Then Gwri began to prepare in his mind the Spell of the Three Places. First he mused upon the secrecies of the Wood of Mon, where Math fab Mathonwy engages in enchantment for the purification of the world. He thought of the bluebells there, that are endowed with supernal deep thought by the Immortals; and their ponderings maintain the science of the holy ovates of the Gorsedd; by reason of his possessing the Spell of the Wood, the Field, and the Mountain, he was able to let loose about him with a word the whole power of their meditations, and to put compulsion with it upon things animate and inanimate, and to ward off spells and harm.
"Last October I traveled in the north," said he. "The leaves of the oaks were falling, and blown hither and yonder along the floor of the forest, drifting and whispering on the wind. It was in my mind to cogitate and muse upon the learning I heard from them. Until I obtain knowledge of the meaning of it, I shall take little pleasure in food."
"It might well be that we could give you the knowledge," said the king. "Make known to us where you were traveling when you heard them."
"By the Wood of Mon," said Gwri; "by the Wood of Mon."
With that word a sigh passed through the hall, softer and sadder than the whispering of the west wind through the dry reeds and the sand hills of Teifi, on the first evening of autumn, when the sun is going down behind rain-gray clouds over Ireland. "Let the food be taken away," said the king. "Let drinking-horns be brought, adorned with silver and opals, and mead in goblets of crystal and pearl."
They brought them. The foam on the mead in the hirlas and the goblet was whiter and brighter than the foam on the ninth wave, when it rises against the black rocks of Gwbert, and breaks against them, and shakes out its long, white, glimmering mane against the blackness. The mead was of the color of the sunlight through topaz and amber; there was a sound in it like the murmur of bees through the lime groves and orchards; and a scent of all the flowers in the world, of heather and roses, of apple-bloom and daffodils and pansies. If there were potent spells in the food, ten times more potent and subtle were the enchantments in the drink; there was peril for the mighty, the careful, the well-governed in every drop that shone in the wonderfully-carven, jewel-adorned goblets and hirlas horns.
"For what reason is this abstinence on the lord of the Brython?" said the King of Caer Hedd. "The mead in the hirlas was brewed from honey nine times sweeter than the honey of the virgin swarm in the heatherlands of the Island of the Mighty, and there was neither scum nor bees in it. The mead has this peculiarity: that whoever drinks even a little of it, dreams what he desires to dream, and remembers what he desires to remember, and is made certain of the attainment of whatever he may seek."
"Excellent is the mead truly," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn. "Only fools would accuse it. The sight and the scent of it alone would be the multiplying of thirst, and the quenching of the thirst they multiplied. It was thought that had overtaken me; thought and cogitation."
Then he prepared the second power of the Spell, musing upon the secrecies of the Field at Llandybie, and the golden kingcups that grow there, endowed by a company of Immortals with a spirit of swift, shining and certain wisdom, so that by their mere blossoming they breathe out spiritual delight upon the air, and maintain the inspiration of the Bards of the Holy Gorsedd. "Yes indeed; I was troubled by cogitation, and inquiry into secret things," said he.
"Alas!" said the King of Caer Hedd, "unless we know the matter of the cogitations, we shall deem that it is an accusation against the mead."
"I will make it known, for your satisfaction," said Gwri. "A week ago I was traveling in the south, and I came by a place where the bees were raising song and monody among the marsh-marigolds. The weight of the news I heard from them was brought to my mind by the scent of mead. Until I obtain knowledge of the meaning of it, I shall get no delight out of drinking."
"It might well be that we could give you the knowledge," said the king. "By what place were you traveling in the south?"
"By the Field of Llandybie," said he. "By the Wood and the Field."
Hardly were the words out of his mouth, when a sigh passed through the hall, softer and sadder than the rustling of yellow leaves, and the dropping of mist-drops from them, in the evening, when the wildwood is all a pale and ghostly flame in October, and the mists over the mountains and valleys of the world. "Let the mead be taken away," said the King of Caer Hedd sorrowfully.
Then the chief bard of the caer stood forth and began to relate a story. Such was the nature of its assonance and consonance, and its perfection of melodious sound, and its clarity in the depiction of heroic men and actions, and marvelous places, that even the stories of Ol the son of Olwydd, and Clust fab Clustfeinydd, and Drem the son of Dremidyd, seemed dull and worthless in its comparison. When he had made an end of it, the King of Caer Hedd said:
"For what reason is this abstraction, and lack of delight in hearing stories, on the king's son from the Island of Mighty? By relating tales such as this, the bards maintain bloom and fruitage on a million trees, and spread unfading beauty over the seven cantrefs of Caer Hedd. Yet it was no better with you, hearing it, than would be hearing a crow calling among the yellow elms on an autumn morning, or the voice of the corncrake in the valley, on the night of the full moon of the hay harvest."
"Wonderful was the story, truly," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn. "Better would not be told in the Island of the Mighty, or in Ireland; much less in the rest of the world. Considering and meditating I was; not accusing the story. The cogitations of my own mind had overtaken me."
Then he began preparing the last power of the Spell. He remembered the Wyddfa Mountain, the summit of the world, the House of Hu Gadarn; he bethought himself of the snow on the peak of the Wyddfa, and the pure nature of it, and the endowment it had of spiritual might from the Immortals, whereby is enhanced the spirituality in the hearts of the Holy Druids of the Sacred Circle. Owing to his possession of the Spell of the Three Places, he was enabled to speak as if it were from the Wyddfa, and to wield the lonely and lofty power.
"Alas that we know not the matter of the cogitations," said the king.
"I will tell you," said Gwri. "Last year when I traveled in Arfon, although there was snow, I heard an ousel singing. What with the blackness of his wing, and the whiteness of the snow, and the mysterious nature of the learning in the verses of the song, I have had little freedom from cogitation from that time until now; and until I learn the meaning of them, I shall get no satisfaction either out of song or story."
"Unless we knew the place where you heard the ousel, we could not interpret it for you," said the king. "By what place were you riding?"
"By the Wyddfa Mountain," said Gwri. "By the Wood, the Field and the Mountain."
With the utterance of the words of the Spell, and their regally leaping from between his teeth, and driving their glory and stern resonance through the hall, the magic of the king withered, and the music of the birds amid the rafters was hushed, and a sigh went through Caer Hedd, sadder than the cheeping of the robin in December when there is no gleam in the grayness of heaven, and no dry place on earth for the footsole of man. Care and lack of ease took the mind of the king; unknown to him until then was the failure of his spells. "Wonderful is the might of this druid-taught youth from the Island of Hu Gadarn!" thought he. Then he betook himself to considering whether there would be any means of overcoming and putting spells on him. "Unless it would be through delight and forgetfulness coming upon him with the hwyl of his own speech and song, there will be no means," thought he.
"Will it please you to give us full news of what you heard from the leaves, and from the bees, and from the ousel?" said the king. "It is well known to us that there are no songs in the world to equal the songs of the Cymry, and no stories comparable to the stories of the Island of Britain."
"If I had a harp, I would sing them," said Gwri Gwallt Euryn. "They are not of a nature to be related, except in song."
Thereupon they brought a harp, and set it before him; and he began to get music out of it; and made these verses, and sang them to the music:
The fall of the leaves
In the woods of the world;
And the heart in me grieves
Where they drift and are whirled,
For the silence of her, in the springtime,
Whose wings are enrainbowed, empearled.
And where is the might
In the limbs of the tree?
And his dreams of delight,
And imaginings free?
It's he longs for thy songs, Aden Fwynach,
Shaken out o'er the hills and the sea!
For the Three Pearls of Singing
Were lost from the land.
They were fairies far-winging;
The winds that were fanned
By the fall of their wings, were enroyaled.
By what craft were ye stolen, by what hand?
Shall I multiply words
Without ending the wrong?
From the midst of the birds
That have held thee so long,
By the Wood that thou knowest, O Mwynach,
Come, Princess of beauty and song!
When he had sung as much as that, he looked up, and saw that the birds had lighted down where they might among the rafters, and covered their heads with their wings; all but one of them, and she the most beautiful of all, and her plumage like the rainbow, like the clouds of sunset and dawn. She had been songless and hidden during the whole time of the feast; but now she was circling through the air uneasily, and fluttering to and fro there.
"Now I will sing to you the news I had from the bees at Llandybie," said he. Then he made these verses and sang them:
There's a Field mid the mountains,
And streams have their rise there
In the diamond of fountains,
Spell-hidden from men's eyes there;
And the bees in the cuckoo-flowers heed it,
And ponder and dream and grow wise there.
And I heeded, much yearning,
Their murmur and croon,
And the drift of their learning,
A wandering tune;
And here's what I heard, Aden Fwynach,
By the Fountain of Tybie in June:
There was one without rest
From her beating of wings,
In a silence unblest
In a palace of kings
That had stirred not from sloth since the Three Shouts
Woke life in the voidness of things.
But westward and westward
Ere this, she is winging;
And a Queen turneth restward,
Heart-healed by her singing;
For War amidst Peace unenspelled her.
Heed thou, too, this gift of my bringing!
This gift of small words
Wherein all powers abound,
So that stars, seas and birds
Must submit to their sound,
And rivers, and islands, and forests,
Yea, and man, and his steed and his hound.
And is there no lurement
In this, then, for thee?
Was the White-winged, the pure, meant
In loneness to be?
By the Wood, and the Field of the Fountain,
O Mwynach, thou too shalt be free!
When he had sung as much as that, the bird that had been silent slanted down suddenly through the air, and lighted on the helmet of a group of armor that hung high on the wall above the king's throne. No one heeded her, except Gwri; and that by reason of the magic he had been slowly weaving about them with his song, and with the first two words of the spell, and with the rich, heroic glory of his voice in the singing, and with his unequalled bardic skill with the harp.
"Now I will sing you what I heard from the Blackbird of the Wyddfa Mountain," said he; and with that, went to the harping again, and made these verses, and sang them:
There's a mountain in Wales
Where an Ousel is biding,
And I heeded the tales
From his bill that came gliding,
That so I might pierce the enchantment,
And find thee in thy fairyland hiding.
'Twas of one that was cumbered
By dreams without light,
In oblivion she slumbered
The long, barren night,
Till with Peace amidst War for a weapon
I gave back the sun to her sight.
Yea, their bonds are outworn,
Thy bright sisters are free;
They may wing through the morn,
They may sing o'er the sea —
Wilt thou leave them to droop in the sunlight
With sadness of mourning for thee?
For the sake of the Queen
In whose service of old
Ye went dazzling in sheen
Of dawn-glory and gold,
By the Wood and the Field and the Mountain,
Ah, come forth, Glamor-ensouled!
With that, remembrance burst upon Aden Fwynach. The beauty of the hall and the lawn-lands seemed to her to be nothing; the birds that had been her companions since she was stolen were no better to her than a flock of starlings on a morning in April; their music that had enchanted and put shame and silence and dreams of pleasure on her during all those years, seemed only the loud converse of starlings, when they may be chattering and quarreling over the things that concern them. She bowed her beautiful crowned head beneath her wing; sorrow and remorse were upon her; she had had much delight, she remembered, in the place of her enchantment, and no memories of Rhianon her Lady: that was by reason of the spells that had been put upon her, and their being ten times stronger than the enchantments of Aden Lanach and Aden Lonach. As for the men of Caer Hedd, they were beyond heeding her; power and magic had faded from them; they only remembered the ages of the world, and the toil of the Gods, and their own life without warfare or labor. Glory they had never earned; time was taking from them the semblance of it that they had cherished.
But as for Gwri himself, he did not stay in his singing. The great power of song had come on him; the hwyl of the bards was filling his soul, as the wind fills and drives the sails of a ship. He saw that Aden Fwynach had awakened from her dreams; he saw her bow her crowned head; he knew that in a little while song would come to her, and she would go forth singing before him. He sang these verses to restore her:
For I saw in my dreams
In the halls of her sire,
One crowned with sunbeams
And engirdled with fire;
She was brighter than dawn is in summer;
More lovely than dawn her attire.
And I saw her again
Where high pity had brought her;
She was compassed with pain,
She, a Goddess's daughter.
And wilt thou not come, Aden Fwynach,
To make end of the wrong that was wrought her?
Was she Queen of the World,
Or the realms of the Air?
Where the sea-foam is whirled,
Was her sovereignty there?
And what might was enkindled against her,
That her world was made barren and bare?
Speak thou! hast thou known?
Is it given thee to know
What so dimly was shown
When my dreams were aglow?
By the Wood and the Field and the Mountain,
Oh sing thou the end of her woe!
Thereupon the beautiful wings of Aden Fwynach were spread, and beat down the air beneath her, and she rose in her glory singing. Her song was incomparable; true was that saying, that it would be the passing of the heart from its bondage, the fulfilment of the ultimate concerns of the soul. It was seven times more melodious than the singing either of Glanach or Llonach. As she sang, here is what happened: the men of Caer Hedd rose up, and their king with them; they remembered the dawn of the world, when the Blessed Ones went forth from Gwynfyd, and they went not forth with them; they remembered that they had chosen delight then, and now their delight was withered. But Aden Fwynach sang and sang.
Then there rose up a star and purple brilliance in the far part of the hall; it was a God; the harp in his hands was brighter than the sun. Gwri heard him sing this verse to the men of Caer Hedd:
Oh ye that not stirred
when ye heard our Hai Atton,
When first the dark world of Abred we trod;
When for warward attire
the flame-plumes we wrapt on,
And Chaos caught fire
with the radiance of God;
Will ye dream here in peace
while the death-fumes encumber
Your brethren that went forth of old time, and fell?
Shall ye sweep not in aid
to those Stars dimmed in slumber,
Those heroes enchained
in oblivion and hell?
And he heard the men of Caer Hedd answer him with this one:
O Bright One flame-plumed,
what fate hath o'erborne them?
What dark power hath doomed
them these slumber-wrought chains?
They were brave, though they heard
not our wise words who warned them —
Ah, say not the glow
of their sun-brightness wanes!
Ah, we too, that sought not
High Ceugant's surrender,
That quested no perilous heaven for our hold,
We too have seen wane
our old cherished splendor,
And delight hath turned pain,
and the whole world grown cold.
And he heard these verses again from the beautiful Immortal:
They rode forth from Bliss
in the world's golden morning,
When the lone, bardic stars
sang hymns in their praise;
The insignia of Gods
were their proud brows adorning,
The waste of night glowed
as they passed on their ways.
What though, while through hell's self
their war-way they winged on,
In ages oblivion —
o'erladen, they fell?
It was Gwynfyd they deemed too inglorious a kingdom,
It was they that made choice
to build new heavens in hell.
There be some that o'ercame
when the deep rose to slay them,
And flame against flame,
waged high war with Night;
Leagued chaos and hell
without might to dismay them,
Nor subtly wrought spell
that might dim their proud sight;
The ranks of the Warrior Gods shine with their glory,
They turn from delight
to their stern, agelong war,
Lest the brightness at heart of the ages grow hoary,
And the Spirit Sun rise
o'er the world's brink no more.
And again the men of Caer Hedd, the Gods without toil, answered him:
Our peace hath grown old,
like a flower past its bloom-time,
And wan-rimmed and cold
hath fallen low on the ground.
And we gird us with swords
and go forth to our doom-time,
To free them that fell,
or ourselves to lie bound.
Ah ye, on whose dark brows
long pain and compassion
Have kindled sad splendors
of star-flame to crown;
We, the pure ones unstained
with the long moil of passion,
To your godhood war-worn
and war-glorious, bow down.