This is the first Branch of the Story of Rhianan and Pryderi, Namely:
Here are the Two Branches of The Story of Dienw'r Anffodion (Although they are not part of The Story of Rhianon and Prederi, it will be better to relate them here)
This is the first Branch of the Story of Rhianon and Pryderi, namely:
The Mare and the Foal of Teyrnion Twrf Fliant
I. THE DROPPING OF THE THREE DROPS OF WISDOM ON THE LIPS OF TEYRNION
It will be known already that Teyrnion Twrf Fliant was King of Gwent Iscoed in those days; he had not his better in the Three Islands of the Mighty, and it is doubtful whether he had his equal. Pwyll himself had received fosterage from him, and had learned from him many sciences, such as the constructing of poems and the courtesies of war, the nine huntings and the laws of Dyfnwal Moelmud, the nine manly sports, and the rightful governing of kingdoms. So great was his fame for wisdom and loftiness of soul, that no king would send his sons for fosterage anywhere, at that time, except to Caerlleon on Usk; among the foster-sons of Teyrnion were princes from Spain and Persia, from Alban and Llychlyn, from Cornwall and Corsica, from India the Less and India the Greater. Not one of them would ever become less than a pillar of equitable sovereignty, a warlike dragon on the field of conflict.
In the king's stable at Caerlleon there was one of the Priceless Things of the Island of the Mighty: the most peerless and beautiful mare in the entire world. She was of one sire and dam with Blodwen the mare of Pwyll; but many would be thinking that she was a better steed even than Blodwen. The winds of heaven could never come up with her, when she had a mind to leave them behind. Ten men could not hold her back, if she desired to be going forward. Never in her whole life had she needed the word of command from her lord; by reason of her love for him, it was easy for her to perceive his will without language passing his teeth. Beyond that, whoever might be riding her would receive no wound in battle; and wherever she might set her shell-formed hoofs, if it was on the rolling stone on the mountain-side, it became stedfast beneath her; if it was on the greenest place in the quagmire, it became as firm when she touched it as the best road in the world. She had the name of Fflamwen Aden Goleu with her; and such pre-eminence among horses as her lord had among kings.
With every Eve of May, she had a foal as beautiful as herself. It was well known that honor had come to the whole island, whenever such a foal had been kept unharmed until full-grown. No king in Britain but would have given the best of his possessions for one, if Teyrnion had been a man to sell what he might give away as a free gift. The Crowned King of London, indeed, and the High King of Tara in Ireland, had had such gifts from him; also Taliesin the Chief of Bards, and the Archdruid of Ynys Pon, and Paris King of France. But now for two years there had been no foal for any one; and that was a main sorrow for the whole of the Island of the Mighty. One would be born in the night, but by the dawn of the morning it would have been stolen from the stable.
The Story of Rhianon and Pryderi begins on the night when Pwyll was overcome by the machinations of Ceridwen, and when the Gods gathered to get news what fate would be allotted to him, from the Wheel of the Daughter of Don. The night after that, the third foal would be stolen from the stables of the king of Caerlleon, if there were no preventing the theft. Here is what happened when the first two were taken: —
The first year there had been no fear of thievery on any one, and no guards set in the stable, beyond the seven grooms of Fflamwen; they were the best grooms in the world at that time, so far as was known — as was fitting for a mare of such dignity. Sleep had overtaken them all, and in the morning the foal was gone. "Next year there must be watching," said Twrf Fliant.
When May Eve came, he set his foster-sons to keep guard: twenty proud, wakeful, magnanimous princes they were, all of them eager to serve him. It is related that any one of them might easily have gone nine days and nine nights without cessation from warfare, or from watchfulness, or from merriment and heroic games. They had their place in the stable with the mare; beyond them, nine great druids had come from Mon, out of friendship for Teyrnion, to make the nine pacings of magic, and to chant imponderable potent spells in the stableyard; for it was clear to every one that the stealing would be more by enchantment than by common thiefcraft.
When midnight came, marvelous music rose, and made conflict with the chanting of the druids, till one by one they forgot their spells, and fell to nodding and dreaming, as if they had learned no secrets during their whole lives. The music drifted in through the walls of the stables. "Here are the enchantments," said the princes. They raised the best shouting they could; few could have raised a better or a louder. But their very shouting was turned into a melody, the most overpowering in the world. Ten of them fell asleep where they stood.
The rest gathered about the mare and the foal, raising laughter for the sake of wakefulness, and pressing their sword-points into the palms of their hands. Beautiful clouds came floating down; glamorous legions leaned out of them, putting forth such song as would lure the tempest into quietude. Between earth and sky, they sang, there would be empires richer than the ruby, islands to shame the heart of the opal, where sickness and old age never came. Would not the heroes wend there, inheriting beauty and peace? Five were found to make answer with the slashing of swords; but five were taken with desire for what was promised, and had a wealth of sweet dreams until the morning, but much bitterness of spirit after.
When the glamor waned, the little foal was still unharmed; and the five princes were still waking. Great was their delight, deeming the spells overcome; but Fflamwen Aden Goleu was no less uneasy in her mind than she had been at first. While they were exulting over their victory, it was a raising of warshouts that they heard, and the whole city filled with innumerable invading hosts. Shouting and wailing rang from street to street; with the war-cries of the Gwyddel Ffichti from Ireland, and the men of Gwent unhosted to meet them. They looked at each other in doubt; it was made to appear to them all that Teyrnion had been at war with the Gwyddel Ffichti, and Caerlleon under siege. They were in doubt whether they should leave their watching, to meet this greater danger. They heard men leaping down into the stable-yard, the battering of axes on the door, shouting and confusion on all sides. Clearly the yard was full; the five of them would be against a whole host, and there was no resisting the allurement of that. They left the stall and ran towards the door; they unbarred the door and flung it open; delightful would be fighting, after all that over-sweetness of spells. With the lighting of their eyes upon the night and upon the stars, silence fell. Wan shadows melted and vanished; nothing moved through the moonlight in the empty yard. There was no sound anywhere, beyond far-off barking and crowing. They looked at each other troubledly; without speaking they hurried back towards the stall. Fflamwen Aden Goleu turned her head towards them as they came up to her; they saw the slow dropping of tears from her eyes. The beautiful foal they had left at her side was gone.
A year passed after that, all but a day, and while Pwyll Pen Annwn was watching on Gorsedd Arberth, and withstanding the machinations of Ceridwen, Teyrnion Twrf Fliant was holding council with his druids and foster-sons concerning the watching of Fflamwen Aden Goleu the next night. "Indeed now, evil fall on me," said he, "if there shall be any guard there beyond myself."
"Lord," said they, "it is not fitting that a sovereign ruler should undertake such work as this. Let us watch in the stable."
"Not so," said he. "There shall be watching, and I will be the one to watch."
"It would be the peril of his life for any one to go alone against enchantments. Let us go with you," said the foster-sons.
"Indeed, no," said Teyrnion. "None shall go with me, and none shall be within call."
That night, as he lay on his sleeping-bench of ivory, he was wakened by the touch of a drop of water falling on his lips; and leaped to his feet, for such warlike vigor thrilled through him, soul and limbs, as he had not known even in his best days of prime and battle-breaking, before Pwyll came to him for fosterage.
"What will it be?" said he. "One of the Immortals will be here."
The most wonderful laughter in the world rippled out through the hall. "Ah, sleep on, sleep on, Twrf Fliant," said the Laugher. "It will be no more than the Art of War in the midst of Peace."
Teyrnion lay down again; he knew the voice of a God, and had no concern beyond being obedient. Hardly was he asleep, when the second drop touched his lips; what ran through his veins then, as his eyes opened, was such calmness as might bide untroubled in the valley when the mountains went to war.
"What will it be, O Laugher of the Beauty of the World?" said he. "What will it be this time, O Gwydion of the Multitudinous Enchantments?"
Again the laughter was peopling the hall with running, merry ripples of quiet music. "Sleep on, sleep on, Twrf Fliant dear," said the God-voice through the darkness. "It will be nothing but the Art of Peace in the midst of War."
Teyrnion obeyed, and it was not a minute or two before he slept. Again a drop falling on his lips awoke him; and now what came to him was such vision, that he felt it would but be the trouble of looking, for him to see the secrecies of the universe, and the Gods laboring in their sky-halls or in the mountains, or in their unseen palaces on the trackless wave. This time there was no hindering Teyrnion from mingling his own laughter with the divine laughter that rocked and rippled about him.
"What will it be, Lord Gwydion?" said he. "In the name of heaven and man, what will it be?"
"Ah Teyrnion, Teyrnion bach, it will be no cause for losing sleep," said the Other. "Tonight is for sleep, and tomorrow night for watching," said he. "It will be no more in the world than the Spell of the Wood, the Field and the Mountain. It will only be the Spell of the Three Places in Wales, that contains all compulsion in it, and the mastery of invisible things."
Teyrnion knew then that the Gods had given him the three Drops of Wisdom out of the Cauldron of Ceridwen, that change mortality into immortality, human life into Godlife. He turned without disquiet or exultation upon the sleeping-bench, and nothing broke his slumber until dawn. Whoever saw him the next day, was aware that there would be the breaking of enchantments in the stable that night.
II. THE MARE AND THE FOAL OF TEYRNION TWRF FLIANT, AND THE FINDING OF GWRI GWALLT EURYN
That morning he sent his foster-sons to Garth Maelor for a day and a night, to hunt in the Vale with the King of Glamorgan. As soon as they were gone, he hosted the whole of his armies, and set them on the shore of the Hafren at Aberrhymni, "To watch," said he, "against an invasion out of Ireland." Then he rode back swiftly into Caerlleon; no one remained in the city with him, beyond old men, women and children. "This will be well," said he. "This will be entirely convenient and fitting. I shall have peace now for the watching."
Early in the evening he went into the stable, and took his place beside the mare. She turned her head towards him as he came in, and as soon as she saw who it was, laughed within herself. "There'll be an end of the enchantment now," thought she. As for the foal, its hoofs were more delicate than the sea-shell; it was perfectly formed, beautiful-eyed, firm of limb; not one hair on its body was black or gray, or dun or chestnut, or brown or ruddy; not one was less white than the mountain snow, or the April cloud, or the foam on the wave, or the petal of the lily, or the reflection on the waters of Safaddon from the wings and the breast of the swan.
"You will be one to hurry the winds," said Teyrnion, stroking it. "Unless you should come by a better, you shall have the name of Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd from me." "Yes, yes," thought the mare, reflecting in her mind. "Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd will be the name for him."
The king watched, pacing up and down, or pausing to fondle Fflamwen and the foal, and to communicate to them the thoughts he might have in his mind. A deep contentment was with the mare, such as she had not known on a May Eve for three years; the silence was hardly broken at all with the motion of her beautiful hoofs. The foal was as gentle and fearless with the king, as if he had already ridden it through many battles.
With midnight, it was as if the petals of a crimson rose were falling and drifting unseen through the air. Slowly the silence grew into such music, that it seemed as if the dreaming moon and stars were leaning down over Gwent, and stroking from their silver harpstrings low, slow, melodious, indolent notes, that floated over woods and palaces as softly as the drifting of thistledown on the breeze, or the falling of snow-flakes in spring, when no wind may be blowing. Song came in through the windows, a marvel of quietness and dream:
Rest, King of Gwentland, rest,
Under the lonely moon!
Deeds are a wandering tune,
Dreaming is best.
Dream you, and dream!
What are men's ways and wars,
Horses and battle-cars?
— Foam on a wandering stream,
Foam on a noisy stream.
Let them alone, and dream
Under the stars!
— The place was filled with a million invisible spinners, weaving around him silvery webs of sleep and dim peace.
Ah, let your strivings cease!
Beauty alone hath blooms
Here in our moon-pale peace.
Here are no deaths nor dooms,
Nor any warfare looms;
Only White Beauty blooms
In our White Peace!
— The music rose and wavered and swooned and withered on the air; mysterious blossoms did indeed bloom and glimmer up everywhere; white, wax-like flowers with such an odor of dream and honey to them, that a warlike army in the moment of victory would have been lulled into slumber and silence by no more than a single breath of it. Swords would have fallen to the ground, from their sweeping through the air towards the cleaving of helmets. Arms would have dropt limp, that were in the midst of hurling spears. Eyelids would have fallen over eyes grown weary, that a moment before had been blazing with battle-anger. Throats would have become silent, while half of the war-shout remained unuttered. Sleep would have overtaken the mighty, the eager, the wakeful, the raging; but sleep could not overtake the King Twrf Fliant.
Dream, King of Gwentland, dream!
Dream while the dream hours flow.
Kings and their deeds and all,
These are but leaves that fall
And wither, and where they go
None but the four winds know.
You, King of Gwentland, dream
While the dream hours flow!
Fflamwen Aden Goleu looked into the king's eyes, and he into hers. It seemed to her that she had never beheld any one less for sleep and dreams than he was. "In my deed," thought she; "here will be the end of this enchantment."
The stable grew fuller and heavier with blooms and scent and music. The white, wonder-flowers began to move and wave with the music, glimmering like the opal as they moved, and growing and changing, till they lost their flower form, and were guised like the Children of Beauty, the Family of Gwyn the son of Nudd. There were hosts and hosts of them, circles upon circles upward. Their wings were of all the hues of the iris, the rose, the peacock. Of the soft luster of mother-o'-pearl were their cloudlike, gossamer garments. For the hair of their heads, they had plumage like night intermingled with dawn. Untroubled were their brows; their eyes mild, somber, glorious, fathomless with antique innumerable dreams. Softer was their song than the wind of twilight among the reeds of Teifi; than the call of far waters from the valley when the moon is shining at midnight in August; more drowsy it was than the monody of bees amidst the lime blooms on a cloudless noon in July. In slow and slumber-weaving dances, they swayed and waved and drifted around him. Downward and nearer they came; tremulant, murmurous; sighing song, softer than dream, breathing through their circles. He stood beside the foal and waited. He could feel the breath of them on his face; it was sweeter than the scent of pansies. His head dropped; he fell a-nodding, nodding; his eyelids covered his eyes. "Heigh ho," thought Fflamwen, sighing; "will it be loss again, and no end to it at all?"
One arm of him was about her neck; he leaned his head against her neck, as if he were sleeping. She turned quietly to the stall again, laughing to herself. His head dropped nodding, nodding; the long breaths of the sleeping came from him. Soft fingers brushed against his eyelids; delicate arms came winding about his limbs. The low singing trembled up into laughter; silvery laughter of victory quivered up to the rafters. But it broke off suddenly into a quick gasp; he had flung forth an arm, and seized the prince of the singers, and dragged him down till he was kneeling before him on the stable floor.
With that a sigh passed through the whole cloud of them, and they were gone. The light and shadow from the lantern fell on the manger, the hayrack and the rafters; it was as if there had never been enchantments in the world.
"And now," said Teyrnion; "it would be well for me to end your days."
"Not so," said the other. "Were I to remain alive, I should not oppose you further."
"I do not know," said Teyrnion. "Intensely discordant, to me, was the sound of the song you were singing."
"It was the song we were willed to sing," said the other. "Whosoever may have mastered us, we sing what he wills us to sing."
"Such singing as you raised might well merit death," said Teyrnion. "Who willed you to terrify the mare?"
"Your enemy and hers. If I were to remain alive, I should serve you, and sing in accordance with your desires, and with your commands, and indeed, with the thoughts that you may never have spoken; and this we should do, both I and all those multitudes that were here, from this out."
"Let song be raised with your people now, then," said Teyrnion. "And if the singing be good, and in accordance with my desires, and even with the thoughts I may never have spoken, I shall take thought, and give it consideration, and formulate my plans and designs concerning you. But if it be less than that, I will avenge the mare for her terrifying."
With that the other began his singing; there was keen delight and wakeful vehemence in the most slumber-heavy note he sang. The song was taken up by the whole of his host; although they were unseen, they multiplied their harmonies over Gwent Iscoed, till the notes fell, from Henffordd to Aberrhymni, like the first rain after a drought, like the warshout of a friendly host drawing near on the ears of the hopeless, the besieged; or like the battle-music of harps to warriors grown fretful in a long peace. Hearing such a song, and the immortal triumph and vigor of it, no one would remain sad; the quarrelsome would become peaceful; even the mischievously stupid would cease from doing harm.
"Well, well," said Teyrnion, "it shall be pardoned you on account of this singing. Few would accuse it of discordance or hateful sound. And now," said he, "by my will, and by the Wood, the Field and the Mountain, go you forward, and sing the like of it wherever there may be evil in the Universe."
He heard them go; he knew there would be no breaking the Spell of the Three Places. "Two of the Drops have benefited me," said he. No harm in the world had come to the foal.
The song died away at last into a silence broken by no far barking, by no crowing of cocks, by the calling of no owls from the woodland. Slowly the king paced up and down; Fflamwen betook herself to her oats peacefully, or to nuzzling and caressing her foal. Presently it seemed to him that the deep peace of the night without was stealing into far-off noises; he stood still and listened long. It would be the tramping of warward hosts; it would be hoofs pounding afar, warshouts raised, the screaming of the creels of impatient chariots. Slowly the whole noise of battle was driven in upon him; it would be two hosts at war, and between that and Aberrhymni; and they would be drawing nearer. They were to be heard now outside the walls of Caerlleon; now within the town itself. He could hear the voice of Gwron Gwent his penteulu, and his own warshout raised; and the warshout of the men of Ireland opposing it. He heard the crash of falling houses, the wailing of women and children; through the window he saw the glare of burning. Nearer and nearer the warfare would be drawing; the stableyard itself was becoming thronged with the anger of armies. Clashing of steel, rolling of fierce wheels, creels creaking, thunder of hoofs and screaming of wounded steeds, sharp cries and lamentation, and the surging roar of two great warshouts — nothing but the stable walls divided him from it. "Teyrnion! Teyrnion!" cried the Gwyddel Ffichti; "where is the King Twrf Fliant? Never before this night was it said that he feared the men of Ireland on the field of conflict." "Teyrnion! Teyrnion!" shouted his own men; "where, in the name of heaven and man, is the King Twrf Fliant? Never before was it said that he was absent when the armies of Gwent were hosted at Caerlleon." So the battle raged about him, made known to his ears, but not to his vision. Suddenly in the press and fury of the tumult, the walls of the stable fell, leaving the roof supported on the four corner-beams that upheld the rafters. He looked forth; about him was only mad battle surging and screaming, louder than a storm in the forest branches, wilder than the tempest on the raging sea.
They stood there under the roof, the three of them, and the two hosts not noting them; not noting, in their ardor, the falling of the walls of wattle and clay. Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd held his head high, fearless, eagerly watching; delightful to him were the things he saw. Fflamwen herself was no more than half remembering the enchantments; half she was quivering with desire to be out beyond there, and the weight of her lord on her back. Twrf Fliant looked out on the proud, innumerable, war-scarred warriors of Ireland, and on the huge, heroic, princely chieftain that led them. He looked out on his own men; he saw that there would be no reproaching them; he saw the heroic deeds of Gwron Gwent at their head. It was difficult for him to withstand pride at their regal aspect, their invincible demeanor; at their having succeeded in deceiving the courteous men that were against them, and in coming out few against many, according to the ambition of the men of the Island of the Mighty and of Ireland. In peace he stood there while the warfare raged and clamored. Swords swept cleaving helmets; spears whizzed hissing through the air; scythed chariots rolled forward, reaping. Fflamwen neighed and stamped impatiently; she was unused to remaining at peace when war might be going forward before her eyes. The king laid a hand on her neck; she remembered, and hung her head. It was apparent to her that her lord heeded it as little as he would have heeded a fly buzzing among the rafters, or a wisp of straw falling from the stall. "Indeed and indeed now," thought she, "although I myself might grow foolish and querulous, and might forget what I desired to remember, and sleep where I desired to wake, it would be otherwise with my lord, Twrf Fliant. Sorrow take me," thought she, heeding her oats again, "unless I see this night the end of all this weary old enchantment."
Suddenly with a shout the battle turned towards them; it was apparent that the two hosts had seen them at last. Then the men of Gwent were overcome; they were borne down before the onrush of the Gwyddel Ffichti, and the whole inimical host surged towards Teyrnion. The Prince of Ireland ran in upon him with sword on high. "There will be death where there is no yielding," cried he.
"There will be no yielding," said Teyrnion. "Yet many would consider courtesy."
"That is true," said the other. "The time is given you to draw the sword, and if it needs sharpening, to sharpen it also."
("The Gods help them better!" thought Fflamwen. "Few would attain cheating the King Twrf Fliant.")
"Ah no, good soul," said Teyrnion. "No doubt the sword will be rusted into its scabbard."
"Death it is then," said the other. "Death it is bound to be." While his blade was in the midst of its falling, Teyrnion regally made answer.
"Nor that either," said he. "Peace it will be."
A sigh passed through those warlike hosts; they ebbed away like the ninth wave after its falling. There was the quiet stable, and the light of the lantern over the manger and the walls. The sword that had been raised for destruction fell with a clang on the flags of the floor. Fflamwen Aden Goleu stood with her nose in the manger, quietly munching her oats, laughing within herself. "Dear, the prowess of this man!" thought she. "The splendor of his soul and all!" There was the one that had the guise of the Prince of Ireland, bound in chains at the king's feet.
"Yes, yes," said Teyrnion, thoughtfully; "in deep peace you will be, undoubtedly, from this out. Nothing will disturb your quietude hereafter."
"For the sake of heaven and man," said the other, "lay not that fate upon us. Destruction would be better."
"For what reason would destruction be better? Wherefore should I not lay upon you this merciful fate? I am not one to desire revenge."
"We are the children of war," said the other. "We should pine away forever, unless we had violent confusion and warlike strife to sustain us."
"Who sent you here?" said the king.
"Your enemy and the mare's," said the other.
"If I laid not peace upon you, it might be that you would come troubling the mare again. A mare would desire peace on such a night as this."
"Without your will we should do nothing and trouble no one from this out. Let there be destruction for us, but not peace."
"Well, well," said Teyrnion, "you might do no harm, and still have violence to sustain you." With upraised arms he stood, majestic, druidlike. "By my will," said he, "and by the Wood, the Field, and the Mountain, go forward, and make your war on the one that sent you here. And be you at peace with what is best, and at war with what is worst from this out, in all the four quarters of the world."
That fate was on them then, from that out. The king went forward with his watching.
It would not be more than a minute before the sun would be over the rim of the world, and an end to all danger of enchantments. Suddenly the mare whinnied, and there was a crash at the window above her head. A great talon broke in and clutched at the foal; the least of its claws would be as big as the body of a well-grown man. Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd looked up at it curiously, unafraid. The king was on the manger in a moment, vigorously harrying and slashing at it with his sword. He wounded it so that it dropped what it was holding into the manger; he drove at it with vehemence, and gave it no peace. For all its size, and its strength, and its hardness like steel, and its tearing, wounding, angry claws, it could obtain no advantage against him. When the seven terrific blows had been dealt to it, and the seven deep wounds given, it was snatched back through the window. Teyrnion leaped down to the stable floor. The sun had risen, and the enchantments were at an end. Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd the foal of Fflamwen was as safe as if there never had been magical plots and thievery in the world.
As for what the talon had dropped into the manger when the king wounded it! it was a beautiful and princely child, the best in the world, so far as Twrf Fliant had seen. His age would be no more than three nights, if as much. His swaddling-clothes were of white fine silk and linen; his eyes were better than the sky on a June day for blueness. His hair was long and beautifully golden. Round his neck was a golden thread, and a gold ring threaded on it; on the ring was this inscription in the coelbren characters: Bydd i ti ddychwelyd. About his middle was a fillet of woven gold of Arabia. It was apparent from the first that he would be the descendant of kings and Gods. From the moment he set eyes on him Teyrnion loved him.
When the world was waking he took the child to the queen. "We have no son of our own," said he. "Yes," said she; "this child shall be our son."
They gave him the name of Gwri Gwallt Euryn, until he should find the name his own mother had given him, or come by a better name for himself. As for a naming-gift, he had the best naming-gift in the world from Teyrnion. Any one would know that that would be Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd, the foal of Fflamwen Aden Goleu. With the naming of Gwri Gwallt Euryn, and the giving to him of Gyrru'r Gwyntoedd for a naming-gift, the first branch of the Story of Rhianon and Pryderi comes to its end.
The Story of Dienw'r Anffodion
Here are the Two Branches of The Story of Dienw'r Anffodion
(Although they are not part of The Story of Rhianon and Pryderi, it will be better to relate them here)
I. THE MISFORTUNES OF THE ONE WITHOUT A NAME, AND THE MERRIMENT OF GWYDION AB DON
During the years in which Gwri Gwallt Euryn was growing up from babe to boy — and, dear knows, the fairest and most fearless of boys, and the one of most courteous disposition, and the equal at thirteen to another of eighteen — there was a man from the Island of the Mighty wandering the world, that was more unfortunate than any one in the east or the west at that time, almost. It was not known to him, nor to any other, from what land he had come at first, nor from what town. He was unacquainted with the nature of rest, or peace, or delight, or receiving kindness. If he went upon any adventure, or undertook any enterprise, it would end in sorrow and blame for him, in sorrow and blame, and scorn and reviling, and bitterness. The army for which he fought would meet with defeat; although none were stronger or more heroic, the defeat would be attributed to him; whoever might fail or show cowardice, he would receive the blame for it. As for his journeyings, the story relates that he had been in Europe and in Africa and in the Islands of Corsica, reaping disaster, and in Caer Brythwch and Brythach and Ferthach. Also he had been in Tara, in the court of the High King of Ireland as a serving-man; and in the court of the Island of the Mighty, doing service for the Crowned King of London; and in the court of the Princes of Greece in the East. He had neither name nor known lineage; for that reason, and on account of his misfortunes, he was called Dienw'r Anffodion. There is this to be said about him also: it had never happened to him to boast or to lie; though he had known all sorrow, he had known no fear; he had never kept for himself that which he might have given to another, and whatever adversity or false accusation might be out against him, never had he been less than kind and magnanimous, and courteous and firm-souled, and valiant and kingly.
This branch of it begins at the time Gwri was thirteen years old. Dienw'r Anffodion was journeying through Arfon, making his way towards Ynys Mon and Ireland; and never had he been so luckless as he was then. By reason of his misfortunes, he could find little welcome, and less employment anywhere; and he was such a one that idleness was worse to him than hunger. It was long since he had passed by any habitation, or seen the face of man. Three days before, he had shot an old, lean rabbit on the mountain, and had seen neither bird nor beast to shoot at since. Although it was the beginning of autumn, the fields bore no mushrooms for him, nor the thorn berries; there was no finding so much as a whortleberry on the low bushes on the floor of the forest. The flesh of the rabbit had lasted him three days; by that morning there was no more left of it than the right hind leg, and the best that could be said for that was that it was cold and dry and lean and withered.
He had risen from the heather at dawn, after a night of rain, and was keeping the meat he had until midday. The sun shone from a blue sky; the great mountains rose in their beauty on either side of the road. He was without shoes, much more was he without horse; and weaker and wearier than ever he had been; beyond that, there was little hope remaining with him, by reason of innumerable failures. He had bruised his left foot the day before against a rock, and was lame with it; as for his clothes, they were little better than a beggar's rags, at that time.
Going forward, he became aware of sweet and marvelous harping, and of a song that filled the valleys with wonder. He might have been hearing it for some time before he became aware of it. It rose up, and stole over the green slopes, and grew loud, and leaped up from crag to crag, and from cliff to cliff, ringing and echoing; it made the morning wholly magical and beautiful, and set the raindrops on the bracken quivering and gleaming, and brought a hundred long-eared furry ones lopping from their burrows to listen. An old, gray wolf sauntered down into the road, and stood still, and sniffed, and paid no heed to him as he passed. A young eagle out of Eryri came sailing down and lighted on a near rock without fear of him. A herd of mountain goats above stood still within bowshot of him, all of them enchained and set dreaming by the music. As for himself, such a spell and delight came on him, that he had no thought of arrow or bow.
Soon he came to the one that was harping and singing; having left the road, and ascended the mountain-side on his right, that he might come to him. It was a youth of great beauty and nobility of demeanor that was floating out all that glamor on the morning; he rose up and slung his harp over his shoulder and came down towards Dienw when he saw him. As soon as the music stopped the wolf was gone in a moment with a growl; and away with the eagle towards the sky, and the goats to the inaccessible crags, and the rabbits to their burrows.
He was hardly more than a boy, yet had the blue robe of an institutional bard on him, fastened with a bard's brooch of gold. He was tall, but not over-tall; it was clear that few would not follow when he led, or would refuse to obey when he commanded. His laughter had the ripple of harp-music, and it was merrier than anything in the world. His hair was long and black; his two eyes bluer than the sea, more sparkling than the June sunlight on the wave-crest; it was apparent that little would be hidden from them, that they might have the desire to see. In his right hand was a wand of alderwood, studded with nails of Welsh gold; almost any one would have known there was subtle power in it.
"The greeting of the god and the man to you pleasantly and kindly," said he, laughing. It was the best greeting Dienw had had, so far as was known to him, during his life.
"The greeting of the god and the man to you pleasantly," said he; "and better to you than to me, and more copious. More delightful to me than anything I have known was the sound of the harping and the song, and it would be pleasant to me to remember the name of the one that made it."
"The name will be Goreu the son of Ser," said the bard — and clear it was, indeed, that he would be of starry lineage. "It was foretold to me that I should meet the man I desire to meet in Arfon before noon this day; and I raise the music so that, if he should hear it from afar, he may be drawn to seeking the reason of it. It might well be that you yourself are that man."
"Who will he be, and for what reason do you desire to meet him?" said Dienw. "No one would pass, truly, without seeking out the one that raised that music."
"I will tell you," said Goreu. "It is a man to do service is required, and a marvelous adventure that is to be embarked upon by him."
"As for that," said Dienw, "weary I am with seeking service to do, and adventures to embark upon."
"Well, well, I will make this known to you further," said Goreu, "so that it may be seen whether you are the man or not. The six chief chieftains of the Island of the Mighty, and Taliesin Benbardd at the head of them, desire to go upon a quest into the west of the world; but it is of such a nature that it would be unfitting for less than seven to go, and it is hard to find the seventh."
"For what reason is it hard to find him, among all the princes of the Cymry?"
"Owing to the peculiarities of the quest. There is danger of pride and ambition in the one that may go on it; and if there were pride or ambition, there would be failure. The man that I am seeking will have been divested of these things by thirteen years of misfortune, and no rumor of delight or praise or pleasure during the whole of that time. The princes of the Cymry are too fortunate."
"It will be a marvel if this should be for me," said Dienw. "Yet true it is that during thirteen years I have not known delight, or heard praise, or taken part in pleasure. It may be said also that I have seen misfortunes, such as they were."
"What name is with you?" said Goreu.
"Never the rumor of one," said the other. "Dienw'r Anffodion is the best there is to call me."
(The meaning of that is: The Nameless One with the Misfortunes.)
"In my deed to God," said Goreu, "it may well be that you are the man. I will expound it to you further," said he. "Owing to the perilous nature of this adventure, the man that undertakes it must be encumbered neither by name nor lineage; and it would be the peril of his life if he were burdened with the memories of more than thirteen years."
"Soul, soul," said Dienw; "here is the truth, if you desire to listen to it. It is thirteen years since I awoke at the dawn of a bleak rain-swept morning on the mountain-side, without tidings who I was or whence I came; and from that time to this I have been reaping misfortunes. All that may have befallen me before, is unknown."
"Undoubtedly it is you that I came here seeking. If the conditions are not too difficult for you, it will be permitted to you to undertake this adventure."
"Give me news of them," said Dienw. "If they are difficult, it will be the better."
"They will be these," said Goreu: "that, having set forth, you will not turn back; and that, until I leave you, you will not forbear to accompany me."
"I will accept them," said Dienw, "whether they may prove to be difficult or easy."
"Pledge you the faith of your life and the honor of the Cymry to it."
"I pledge them to you gladly," said he. "By the faith of my life, and by the honor of the men of the Island of the Mighty, who neither boast nor lie, I will not turn back from this quest, and I will not leave you until you may leave me."
"That is well," said Goreu. "We will go forward."
They went down into the valley, and took the road towards Mon, and journeyed on until noon. There was no more talk between them concerning the adventure that was to be undertaken. It had never happened to Dienw, so far as he knew, to be as light-hearted as he was then. He made little of his past sorrow and wanderings; he had no thought but for the hopefulness of the quest, and the delight of the morning, and the brightness of the one that accompanied him. As for Goreu, not for a moment was he silent with his songs and stories, his laughter and diverting conversation; it was better to Dienw, listening to him, than food or rest or the cure of lameness. At noon he broke off in the midst of a story suddenly —
"The hunger of the world has overcome me," said he. "Are there provisions with you in the wallet?"
"Such provisions as they are," said Dienw. He opened the wallet and brought out what it contained.
"Miserable food is this for such a one as I am. Is there no more than this rabbit's leg?"
"There is no more."
"Ah me," said Goreu sorrowfully, "detestable to me is hunger, truly; detestable is the insufficiency of food upon a journey! Utterly sorrowful is this!"
"Take you the whole of it, such as it is," said Dienw. "Common with me has been the knowledge of hunger."
"Yes," said Goreu; "that will be better." With that he ate the food.
From that time the whole of his sorrow came back to Dienw; drifting back into his mind it came, and over his limbs; more of it with every step of his going forward.
"Now that I have partaken of food," said Goreu, "I am refreshed, and sorrow and weariness have forsaken me, and I am filled with the desire for music."
He took the harp from his shoulder and prepared to play it, and play it he did as they journeyed forward. But there was no likeness in his music to the music he had made in the morning. Quick and merry it was indeed; but the merriment with a certain ruthless bitterness at the heart of it. . . . The quicker it grew the less joy had Dienw from it, and the more he was made aware of his old failures and misfortunes.
Now and again a fox would rise from his covert and slink away, smitten with uneasiness of mind; or a hare would start up from her couch and skim down the valley in terror. The music quickened and quickened; and with its quickening Goreu fab Ser quickened his pace. "Ah," he said, "weariness has gone from me. I cannot abide sloth and dawdling when I have been refreshed with food."
They left the road and took to the mountains; more lithe and surefooted was Goreu than the mountain goats of Arfon; no rock nor bog could hinder his swiftness, nor the mad, swift impetuosity of his harping. For all the heaviness of mind and limbs that oppressed him, the music took possession of Dienw, and as it were dragged and jerked him forward, stumbling often, and with much cutting of feet. Whatever misfortunes overtook him, it was nothing to Goreu but the occasion for talking augustly of the power and beauty of his music, or of his own peculiarities; or for raising faster, wilder harpings. He reeled out jig after jig, of such a nature that it was a wonder that the mountains maintained their stillness, and wild, tumultuous war-tunes, that might well have compelled them to quit their peace. The more whirling was the jig, the less desire the one that heard it had for dancing; the more warlike the battle-tune, the more he desired quietness and rest. But quietness and rest were not for him; only breathless giddiness and aching of limbs. Early in the afternoon, the silver streak of the Menai between its trees gleamed near at hand below them; and in a little while they came to the shore and to the house of the ferryman.
Goreu fab Ser greeted the ferryman pleasantly. "The hunger of the world is upon me," said he. "Is there any food in the cottage?"
"Such as it is," said the ferryman; "such as it is, and little enough of it." He went into the cottage, and brought out half an oatcake and a small piece of cheese, and it was Goreu that took them from him.
"Better for one to have his fill, than for two to go hungry," said he. "There is not enough for the two of us." He ate it, offering none to Dienw. "Do you grudge me the food?" said he.
"No," said the other. "I am accustomed to hunger."
"It will be the better for you," said Goreu. There was neither merriment nor mockery in his voice; indeed, there might have been compassion in it.
The ferryman had launched his coracle, and the three of them went into it, and began the crossing. As soon as he was in the boat, Goreu became merrier and wilder than he had been during the whole day; yet on his countenance no lack of augustness. It was as if he had never seen a coracle before, or made the crossing of any stream or strait. He went from gay talk and singing, to leaning back and loud laughter; there was no little wave or ripple but caused him laughter. It would have been more profitable for the ferryman to have warned the wind of heaven, than to have warned him; it was impossible for Goreu to remain without motion for a moment. As soon as they were in the middle of the Menai, here is what he did — a perilous thing for a man in a coracle. His eye caught the leaping of a fish out in the water to the right of the boat. "Ah, in the name of man, look you out yonder!" cried he; "it will be the oldest salmon in the waters of the world." He was upon his feet in a moment, and the right foot of him on the edge of the coracle. With that, it turned over, and the three of them were in the water.
"On me is the sorrow of all my race!" cried Goreu. "Never have I feared anything so much as death by drowning. If there were any one here better than a cowardly boaster, he would quit his extreme selfishness, and take some thought for saving me from the fury of the waves." Indeed, even weeping he was, and that with such mournful augustness as a God might use, who lamented the destruction of a constellation of stars. "This is a marvel to me," thought Dienw. "I am here, truly," he cried out; "it is not fated that you should drown." He held him up in the water, and began swimming with him towards Mon. It was harder swimming than any he had known during his life. Not for an instant was Goreu still or silent. Struggling and striking at Dienw he was, until they came to shore; and beyond that, filling the world with his complaints, and his wailings, and his lamentations, and his framing of insult. As for the ferryman, he had swum back quietly with his boat towards Arfon. There is no righting a coracle, and entering it, from the breast of the sea.
"It will be better to rest here," said Dienw, when he had dragged his companion beyond the reach of the waves. It seemed to him that the last of his strength was gone.
"It would be the unwisdom of the world to rest," cried Goreu, leaping up to his feet. "The sun is gone, and the sky clouded, and there will be a storm beating up from Ireland. Now that I have been half killed with drowning, it would be the death of me to be caught in that storm. I marvel that this selfishness should be. Ah me," he cried, "if I had with me one not given to lies and boasting, he would not seek to destroy me! Ah me, that men will pledge the faith of the Cymry, and break their word!" It was as if he were a God wailing for the treachery that caused the ruin of a world.
"You have no need for sorrow," said the other; "I will go with you." He rose up painfully. "Were he to go upon a voyage, it might go ill with him," thought he; "he has little knowledge of the sea."
With that they went forward through the sacred woods of Mon. From that time, every word that Goreu spoke was solemnly bitter and insulting. "It is the pity of my life that there was no one in the water with me, that knew the art of swimming," he said. "I was nigh my death by drowning, on account of your clumsiness, and your desire to save your own life. Henceforth it will never be the same with me. By reason of this, I shall be taken with loathsome coughing every first day of January, and it will not leave me until June; and I shall be lame in my two legs whensoever it rains. If I had been traveling with a man whose old lives had not been evil, there would have been no overturning the coracle."
They journeyed forward among the great oaks, and suddenly Goreu burst out augustly weeping. "What trouble will be on you now?" said the other.
"Trouble enough, and never was there greater on any man," said he. He flung his harp down upon the ground. "I cannot so much as carry it farther," he said, "so weak and worn am I after the drowning." There was no sign of weakness on him; it had been hard for Dienw to keep pace with him. "Ah me that there is no one here with me, who reveres the Gods and the holy bards! It is the disgrace of his life for one of us, to lose the harp of his bardhood. Many would have offered to carry it for me before this!"
No one would readily refuse the request of a bard, in those days. Courteously Dienw picked up the harp, though not without marveling. "I will carry it for you gladly," said he.
They went forward. If Dienw had been weary in the morning, ten times more so was he now; there was no strength nor vigor left in his limbs, nor reasonable thought in his mind. There was a catch in his breath, a powerful aching in his body, and a giddiness in his head; and as for the harp, for all its lightness at the time he took it up, before he had traveled more than the twenty steps with it, it became heavier than anything he had happened to carry in his life. It seemed to him that if he had been at the top of his strength, and with the whole might of his young and warlike days in him, he could hardly have borne it without staggering. But still Goreu hurried on, and Dienw might have no peace nor rest with him, nor quietness of mind, nor escape from insult.
"Were there any one here with the least skill, he would lighten the road for me with playing," said Goreu. "It is an ill thing for such a one as I am to be journeying without music, and too weary and sick to raise it for himself."
"The strings will be wet from the Menai," said Dienw. "If they were dry, I would make a trial of it."
"It is the nature of the braggart and the coward to lie and make excuses," said Goreu. "Many would have made the trial without accusing the harp."
"It would be the most priceless of the Wonderful Gifts of these Islands," said Dienw, "if it would give music after swimming the Menai."
"If I had the strength to argue with you, I would argue," said Goreu. "I am such a one that my health fails me, and my heart grows sad at the best of times, if there is no music. Few will be so lofty and delicate of soul. It is a shameful thing for a man to be selfish. Never will I travel with the selfish hereafter." All this he spoke with extreme augustness of demeanor.
Dienw laughed to himself as he took the harp from his shoulder, and felt the strings. They were all wet and loose from the Menai; no one would have dreamed of playing them. "I will make the trial," said he, "if it will please you."
As soon as he struck the first string, it was clear to him that there was more music in that harp, than in any harp he had ever attained seeing, and that all the wetness of the Menai could not quench nor injure it. Majestic music he struck from it, that rolled out, and set delight and magic on the sacred oaks and the brambles, and put the bracken quivering with joy to hear it, and lifted his own soul beyond the reach of its sorrow, and his body out of all its weariness. He played on; marvelous were the tunes he got from it. Even the gray thunder-clouds were driven from the sky, and the sun was made to shine more brightly than he had shone during the whole summer. Suddenly he felt his arm seized, and his fingers dragged away from the strings. In the manner of a God or an Archdruid conjuring the powers of evil from the world, Goreu adjured him:
"For the sake of this island, Mon the Mother of Wales; and for the sake of the Gods that dwell here, and of the Three Orders of the Holy Druids, give me the harp!" he cried. "Woe is me that I should have fallen to hearing such evil and sorrowful sound! Unless I play myself to appease them, without if or were-it-not, the Immortals will be destroying the world in revenge for this."
Dienw gave him the harp; although he marveled, he had no desire to display discourtesy; and Goreu was an institutional bard of the Gorsedd of the Island of the Mighty.
"Now shall you hear music," said Goreu fab Ser.
Therewith he began to strike the strings fiercely and violently, until the world was filled, and crowded, and overborne with discord, and jangling, harsh dissonance, a fantastic clamor of grunting and squealing, a desolation and confusion of abominable sound. Half the leaves on the oaks turned brown and withered; the brake grew sere with terror throughout Mon; the birds of the forest took wing towards Ireland, and in the whole of Mon and Arfon there was no milk in the dairies but curdled and turned sour. The harp screamed, and screamed louder; and while the high strings screamed, the low ones gibbered and chattered and mumbled and snarled. Like the cut of a leathern whip-thong, the screaming rose and rose and afflicted the hearing of the world; piercing, keen, piercing. Then there rose up a long, mournful roaring from afar; it was the rising and utter terror of the Four Princely Waves: the Wave of Fannau, the Wave of Alban, the Wave of Werddon, and the long, proud, foam-crested, ocean-traveling, ship-destroying Wave of Gwalia of the Warlike Hosts. Darkness covered the sky, to hide the sun and the blueness, and preserve them against the pain of that miserable harping. Clearly there was enough magic in it to destroy the world, to disfoundation it and batter it down. The horror and sickness of the entire universe came upon Dienw'r Anffodion. It seemed to him that death was around him, encompassing and prepared for him; and that death itself would give him no refuge from cacophony.
"Ah," cried Goreu, stopping at last, "I am such a one that music is better than rest or food or slumber for me. The sweetness of this exquisite harping has cured me of half my sorrow. Did it not seem to you that there was the power of magic in it?"
"Indeed, it did seem so," said Dienw.
They came to the edge of the forest, and the greatest oak in the world was growing there. "Ah," cried Goreu, "in the name of heaven and man, it is the tree that bears mistletoe. It would be equal to losing the whole of the privileges of my bardhood, were I to pass that mistletoe without gathering it." He went up to the tree, and took his sickle from his belt; but was not tall enough to reach the mistletoe. "Come you," said Dienw; "I will gather it for you, if it is your desire." "Fool, fool!" cried Goreu, "if you were to touch it, you would defile it; if you were so much as to handle the sickle, it would be the corruption of the whole of my bardhood. No one but a druid or a bard may touch the mistletoe. Woe is me!" he cried, "was it to receive insult such as this, that I was made a Druid and a Serpent, and a companion to the Dragon of the World? The anger of the Three Orders will be potent against you on account of this."
"Whether it will be against me or not, it is my desire to help you to obtain the mistletoe," said Dienw. "Unless I were to cut it, it is not clear to me how it might be obtained."
"How evil a thing is pride!" said Goreu. "If there were one here without pride, and fit to go upon the adventure, he would have offered to kneel down before the tree, that I might have stood upon his shoulders to cut the mistletoe."
"That also will I do for you," said Dienw.
He knelt down, and Goreu stood on his shoulders, and cut the mistletoe. As soon as it was cut, Goreu fell down where he was standing, and lay groaning on the ground.
"Go you forward, if you desire to," said he. "Go you forward, and leave me here to perish, and let your pledge be broken. Owing to your clumsiness and ill will I am half slain, and I am not able to rise, much less to journey forward."
"I will not go forward without you," said the other. "If there is any house near by where you may obtain a cure, I will bring you to it on my shoulders. Being a bard, you will know what houses there may be on this island."
("I have strength enough for this," thought he.)
"There is the house of Henwrach the daughter of Hen," said Goreu. "If the dead went to her, she would bring them to life, and would charge little for it."
"I will bring you thither," said Dienw.
Goreu picked up the mistletoe, and the other gathered together what strength he had, and lifted him up on to his shoulders, and went forward staggering and stumbling, half blind, and the blood issuing from his mouth and nostrils. They left the forest; it was darkening with evening, and the keen rain was beginning to drive and slant against them. The road led through open country of gorse and heather; there was not so much as a single rock or tree to be seen anywhere, much less a house with a roof to it, where they might shelter and obtain the cure. On and on Dienw staggered; and Goreu on his shoulders never ceasing from his insults and abuse, and all of them delivered majestically. He struck his foot on a sharp stone, and his knees at last were giving way beneath him. Suddenly Goreu leaped down lightly from his shoulders. "Ah," he said; "this is the house of Henwrach ferch Hen; it is here that we shall shelter for the night."
II. THE FOUR HERBS THAT WERE IN THE CAULDRON OF REGENERATION, AND THE NAMING OF MANAWYDDAN SON OF THE BOUNDLESS
Goreu fab Ser took him by the arm, and held him up from falling. On the side of the road, and not ten paces from them, stood a little cottage, and the light from a fire of peat and chaff shining through the doorway. "Come you, dear soul," said Goreu; "there will be little misfortune remaining." He led him towards the door of the cottage.
As they came to the door, Goreu said:
"If there is wisdom with you, desire drink from her."
"Soul," said Dienw, "desire it you, that you may be cured by it."
"Not so," said Goreu; "it is not I that will need curing."
They went into the cottage; there was an ancient, withered crone there, stirring a smoke-blackened, battered cauldron that hung over the fire. It seemed to Dienw that she would be older even than the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, that saw three forests grow up and die, and three cities built and wasted where the forests grew; so wrinkled she was, and so bent double; and so beyond memory or understanding the secret potency of the charm she was crooning.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you," said Dienw.
"Since you have come, you have come," she said.
"Is there food with you for the two of us?" said he.
"There is not food."
"Is it permitted to us to shelter here?"
"Grudgingly it is permitted."
With that he sat down.
As for Goreu, there was no appearance of mockery or of harshness of spirit, or of having received injury on him. Without speaking he went up to the cauldron, and threw the mistletoe he had gathered into it. "It is the fourth of them," said he; and she got no greeting from him beyond that. She gave him no word of answer; and he took his place in silence beside Dienw on the sleeping-bench.
At the end of a while, an old man rose up out of the shadows, and came into the firelight; it could not be concealed that he would have done many deeds in his time, and gained all wisdom, and suffered all sorrow. Both Goreu and Dienw rose up, and greeted him courteously; but little greeting had either of them from him in return.
"Daughter," he said; "will the Four Herbs be at the end of their boiling?"
"At the end of it," said she; and went on with her crooning. "Nettles and shamrock, vervain and mistletoe," she crooned; "shamrock and mistletoe, shamrock and mistletoe." Then Dienw turned to the bard.
"For what will the nettles be?" said he.
"For sorrow," said the other, quietly; but Dienw was not understanding him.
"And for what will the vervain be, if it please you to tell me?"
"For wiping out the sorrow it will be," said Goreu. "For sleep, and for wiping out the sorrow."
"And the shamrock, if it be fitting for me to ask?"
"The shamrock is for me," said the crone, turning towards him suddenly.
"And the mistletoe?" said he; "if it be permitted to you to answer."
"Will there never be an end to his questions and his idle chattering?" said she; and went back to her crooning and stirring. "The mistletoe is for me," said the countryman; "inquire not into it." It appeared to Dienw that there would be a secret meaning in their words, and a deeper wisdom than it had been given to him to hear until then; but what the meaning or the wisdom might be, there was no knowing for him, at that time. With the fumes of the cauldron, and the crooning of charms, and his own weariness and hunger, a dream and a vagueness came over his mind; sometimes the two eyelids fell over his eyes, and the three that were with him seemed to be arrayed in fiery beauty and splendor; but as soon as he might raise the eyelids to look at them, they were no other than they had been at first.
"There is dry fern in the corner of the cottage," said the crone. "It would be bedding for him, if he desired to sleep." He heard her speaking, but her words had little meaning for him. Thereupon the bard rose up, and fetched three armfuls of the fern, and laid them on the sleeping-bench for him.
"Be not gluttonous after sloth and slumber," whispered Goreu. "Remember first the counsels that I gave you as we came into the cottage.
"What counsels were they, in the name of man?"
"Require drink of the crone; it would be the pity of your life to sleep without drinking."
"Soul," said Dienw to the crone, "is there drink with you?"
"There is drink," said she.
"I ask it from you," said he, "for the sake of the kindness of the Cymry."
"You shall have it," said she.
She rose up, and took an old goat's horn, rimmed and tipped with iron, and dipped it in the cauldron, and hobbled across the floor to him with it. He looked into it; the drink that was in it was brown and earth-colored, and the whole bitterness of his days fell upon him as he looked. "This will not be the drink that I desire," said he. She threw the drink out on the floor, and hobbled back to her place by the cauldron.
"Soul," said he, after a little while, "for the sake of the kind courtesy of the Cymry, let me have drink if there is any with you."
She rose up without answering, and took a drinking-cup of silver from the wall, and dipped it in the cauldron, and brought it to him, hobbling painfully across the floor. He looked into it; the drink was dark blue, and there rose a fume from it laden with drowsiness and oblivion. He knew that if he drank it he would be freed from all the memories of his sorrow, and from all the memories of his striving, and from all the magnanimity of his soul.
"Soul," said he courteously and kindly, "this will not be the drink that I require." She threw it out upon the floor, and hobbled back to her place.
"Soul," he said to her again, after a little while; "if I might obtain drink from you, I should not break your peace further."
She rose up, and took a cup of unpolished emerald, and dipped it in the cauldron, and hobbled over to him with it, with much complaining and grumbling. He looked into it, and his vision was crowded with the dancing of the Family of Beauty, and his hearing with the music of the Children of the Air; and it was clear to him that after drinking it he would attain such beauty and peace as are given to those two races. "Soul, soul," he said, "evil be upon me if this is the drink that I am requiring from you." "There is no end to thy desires and thy discontent," she said; and threw the drink out upon the floor, and hobbled back to her place.
After a little while he spoke to her again. "Soul," he said, "there will be no peace either for you or for me until I have obtained drink from you."
"What will be, will be," she said, and rose up. Then she took a drinking-vessel of clear, carved and polished crystal from a shelf among the shadows; it shone whiter than the moon as she brought it to the cauldron. She dipped it in the cauldron, and brought it to him. He looked into the drink, and it was clearer than the mountain-springs of Eryri; it was clearer than the air of mid-heaven in August, when the sun is at his zenith, and there is no cloud or shadow within the borders of the sky.
"The grace, and courtesy, and gratitude of the world and of this island to you," said he. "Without if or were-it-not, this will be the drink."
No sooner were his lips wet with it, than the whole cottage was filled and blazing for him with the light of a thousand dawns; from a peasant's cottage, it became the hall of a palace-place of the Immortal Kindred.
"No longer are you concealed from me," he said. "Hail to you, Ceridwen Ren, Queen of the World!"
"Sleep!" she said; and with her saying it, he sank back in his place on the sleeping-bench, and was asleep.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
He awoke with the dawn; he was lying on three armfuls of dry bracken on a flat rock, in a little hollow among the heather. The sun was shining, and the grass and the heather were bediamonded with raindrops; he himself was dry, and without hunger or weariness. By his side stood Goreu the son of the Stars, as if he had awakened a little before him, and was waiting for his companion to awaken to begin the journey.
"The greeting of heaven and of man to you, Manawyddan, son of the Boundless," said Goreu.
"That is true," said the other; "Manawyddan, son of the Boundless will be the name I have attained. Where is the Palace of Ceridwen Ren?" said he.
"What palace is that?" said Goreu.
"The palace in which we sheltered during the night," said Manawyddan.
"We lay here," said Goreu. "We have made no journeying since the evening."
"Although that be true, we sheltered in the palace," said Manawyddan. "Here is what happened to me," said he. "As soon as I had obtained drink from the crone, sleep fell upon me; and although I was asleep, I had more vision than ever I had in waking. This is what I saw: you yourself were grown flaming-bodied and beautiful beyond the dawn, and with golden mists and green glamors about you. The old crone was revealed to me as Ceridwen in all her ancient beauty and mystery. As to the Countryman, it is known to me who he was: he was the Tamer of Nynnio and Peibio; he was the dragger of Afanc from the Lake of Floods; he was the Ploughman of the Island of the Mighty, the Lord of the White Shield; he was the Forefather of the Gods and the Cymry; he was Hu Gadarn himself. There is no means known of describing his majestic glory, or his beauty, or his radiance of kingly mien.
"As for the Cauldron, it was alive; it was undoubtedly the Cauldron of Regeneration; beauty and light and magic beyond telling were streaming from it. It was wrought of polished bronze, and adorned with the stories of the Gods, and inlaid with the brightest of the turquoise stones of Asia, and with blue enamel without peer, bluer than the Western Sea, when the sky of June is at its bluest. The steam that arose from it was pale purple and green, luminous, and more lovely than the rainbow; a sound as if the stars and the sea and the mountains were singing arose from the boiling of its waters.
"Then there came nine beautiful and deathless youths, and took up my body, and laid it in the Cauldron. The heat of it was for healing and immortal vigor in my limbs; the fumes of it became a passing of oblivion, and a clear wisdom in my mind. It was revealed to me that I was heretofore Pwyll Pen Annwn; the whole of my kingship and my trials in Dyfed were made known to my memory. I remembered the wisdom, and the sorrows, and the compassion of Rhianon Ren the daughter of Hefeydd, who came to me from the Country of the Immortals; and it was revealed to me that at last it would be permitted to me to return to her. From namelessness I attained the name of Manawyddan, son of the Boundless. After attaining it, sleep without vision came upon me."
"That is true," said the other; "all has been as you saw it in the vision. If any man will accompany me upon a journey without complaining, rarely will he fail to attain a name at the end of it."
"Although I saw Hu the Mighty and Ceridwen distinctly, and recognized them, it was not given to me to see more than the glow and glamor that encompassed you. It was not given to me to know which of the Princes of the Immortals you are. Not yet will I have seen you in your own guise, nor held converse with you."
"Indeed, indeed now," said the Bard, "it would not be well for me to wear such a guise as this among mortals."
While the words were between his tongue and his teeth, the aspect of him was changed suddenly, and he had the stature of the pine and the poplar, and the flaming body of the Immortals, radiant with the hues of the rainbow and the peacock. It would be difficult for more beauty to be revealed anywhere, than was revealed to Manawyddan then.
"I am Gwydion the son of Don Ren," he said; "I am the Prince of Wisdom and Laughter. It is I who lead men always to the Cauldron of Regeneration, when the time has come for the inception of their immortality. Much laughter and mockery I make of them, while I am leading them there."
"And now, look you yonder, Manawyddan dear," said he; and led him out of the hollow to the top of the hill. They saw six men coming towards them over the heather, at about a mile away. "They are the six chief Chieftains of the Island of the Mighty," said Gwydion. "The one that rides there at the head of them, and his forehead shining like the morning star, is Taliesin the Chief of Bards. It is they who will go with you upon a quest into the west of the world; until that quest is accomplished, it is not allotted to you to return to Dyfed in the South."
"It is true," said Manawyddan. "I undertook to go upon the quest, and I will not turn aside from it."
With that Gwydion became one with the sunlight and the glory of the morning. Manawyddan went forward to meet the six. His beggar's rags had been taken from him during the night, and he was clothed now like a king. He knew that the time would come for his returning to Arberth, and that he would see Rhianon when the quest was accomplished. He went forward without sorrow; and as he went, chanted these words of the hymn:
I have been enchanted
By Don's son, by Gwydion;
Purity I had from him,
The Purifier of Brython —
The Purifier of Brython,
And Eurwys, and Euron,
Of Euron and Modron,
Of Euron and Modron —
Of Five Battalions of the Wise
The Gods had set their spells on.
— As for that hymn, it was Taliesin Benbardd himself that made it originally; he sang it when he had been in the Cauldron of Ceridwen, and was reborn the son of Ceridwen, and from Gwion Bach became Taliesin.
With Manawyddan's chanting it, and with his going forward to meet the six chief Chieftains, and with his meeting them, and their going forward together, the Story of Dienw'r Anffodion comes to its end.