The Cad Goddeu

I have taken a host of shapes
before acquiring my final form,
the memory of them is clear to me.
I have been a narrow, gilded spear,
I believe in what is clear,
I have been raindrop in the air,
I have been the furthest star,
I have been a word among letters,
I have been a book in the beginning
I have been light of the lamp.
For a year and a half
I was a huge bridge
spanning three score creeks.
I have been path, I have been eagle,
I have been fisherman's boat on the sea,
I have been food at the feasting,
I have been drop of the shower,
I have been a sword gripped in the hands,
I have been shield in the battle,
I have been string of a harp,
in this way for nine years.
In the water, in the foam,
I have been the sponge in the fire,
I have been in the uncharted wood.
I am not he who will not sing
of the fight, although I am small.
I will sing of the battle of the shrubs
before the leader of Britain,
guardian of the swift horses
 and master of so many fleets.

There was a beast with gaping jaws,
with a hundred heads.
A battle was fought
on the back of his head.
It was a black toad
stalking on a hundred claws,
a spotted serpent ridged with a crest.
A hundred souls of sinners
were tortured in its flesh.

I have been at Kaer Vevenir
where the trees and plants grew in riot.
The musicians used to sing,
the men of war were amazed:
a resurrection of the Britons
was brought about by Gwyddyon.
They appealed to the Creator
and the Christ to judge the trial,
until the Eternal One
was prepared to help his creatures.
The Lord replied
through the voice of the elements:
Take the form of trees,
stand in battle line,
send away all those
who are unskilled at close quarters.

Then they were spellbound into trees,
and while waiting to be trees no longer
the trees raised their voices
in four waves of harmony.
The fighting ceased.
Let us end the days of violence!

Then, controlling the tumult, a woman
advanced in the challenge.
At the head of the army was a woman.
The qualities of a shameless cow
will not make us yield!
The blood of men will gush up to our thighs!

The greatest of the three warrior hopes was staked on the world
and there was no more thought
of the flood
of Christ crucified
and the impending judgment day.

The alder-trees, at the head of the army,
formed the advanced guard,
the willows and the service-trees
lined up behind them,
the plums which are rare,
astounded the men.

The new medlars
were a pivot to the battle,
the bushes of thorny roses
struggled against a great mass,
the raspberries, ranged in the thickets,
showed as no others
how fragile is life.

The privet and the honeysuckle
with ivy on the front line
set off into battle with the gorse.
The cherry-tree handled the aggressors,
the birch, despite his noble mind,
was placed at the rear,
not because of cowardice,
but because of his height.
The golden clover proved
to the stranger how wild was its nature.

The pines stood at the front
in the centre of the fray
which I exalted greatly
in the presence of the kings.
The elm and his followers
did not move a foot.
They fought against the centre
against the flanks of the rear.

Of the hazel-trees, one could see
that their warlike rage was most great.
Lucky the privet's role,
he was the bull of battle, the master of the world.
Morawg and Morydd
did great deeds in the shape of pines.
The holly was spattered with green,
he was of all the most valiant.

The hawthorne, watching to right and to left
was wounded in the hands.
The aspen was pruned,
he was pruned in the fray.
The fern was despoiled.
The broom at the forefront
was wounded in a ditch.
The gorse was not unscathed
although he filled the whole field.
The heather triumphed, watching to right and left.
The mass was enchanted
during this fight of men.

The oak marching swiftly
made heaven and earth quake.
He was a stout guardian against the enemy,
his name much revered.
The bluebells fought
and caused great pain;
they crushed and were crushed,
others were pierced through.
The pear-trees were the great firebrands
of the battle on the plain,
because of their violence.
The forest was a stream of ashes.
The timid chestnuts
gained little triumph.
Jet became black,
the mountain grew stunted,
the forest was full of holes
as once the great seas were
as soon as the war-cry was heard.

Then the birch-top covered us with his leaves
and transformed our withered shape.
The branches of the oak enchanted us
with the incantations of Mael-Derw
smiling by the rock.

The Lord is not passionate by nature.
He has neither father nor mother.

When I came to life,
my creator fashioned me
from the fruit of fruits
from the fruit of the primordial god
from the primroses and the hill-flowers
from the flowers of trees and bushes
from the earth and its terrestrial course,
I have been shaped
from the flowers of the nettle
from the water of the ninth wave.
I have been marked by Math
before becoming immortal,
I have been marked by Gwyddyon
the great purifier of the Britons,
by Euwys and by Modron,
by masters of wisdom numbering five times five,
by the wise children of Math.
At the time of the great separation
I was enchanted by the master
when he was half consumed by fire.

By the Wiseman among Wisemen I was marked
before the existence of the world,
at the time when I received life
worthy were the people of the world
the bards were heaped with favors.

I have bowed before the glory-chant,
I have played in the night,
I have slept in the dawn.

I have been in the ship
with Dylan, son of the Wave,
on a bed, in the middle
between the knees of the kings,
when the waters like unexpected spears
fell from the sky
to the depths of the abyss.

In the battle there will be
four score hundred.
They will do as they see fit.
There are neither older nor younger
than me in their armies.
A miracle: a hundred men are born,
each of the nine hundred was with me.
My sword was stained with blood.
A great honour was accorded me
by the Master, and protection wherever he went.
If I go to where the Boar was killed
he will compose, he will decompose,
he will compose praises,
he whose name is glittering and whose hand is mighty:
with a lightening flash he controls his troops
who spread like flame across the heights.

On the heights of the mountain have I been a spotted snake,
I have been a viper in the lake
I have been a star with a curved beak,
I have been an old priest
with my chasuble and my chalice.

I do not make false prophecies.
I predict in four score fumes
the fate allotted to each man:
five times five troops at arms.
I have broken under my knee
six stallions of yellow.
But a hundred times better is my horse Yellow-Ehite.
It is gentle like a sea-bird
which never leaves
the peaceful shore.

I have been the hero of the blood-stained meadows
in the midst of a hundred chiefs.
Red is the stone of my belt
my shield is rimmed with gold.
They are not yet born in the abyss
those who have visited me except Goronwy
from the meadows of Edrywy.

Long and white are my fingers.
Long ago I was a shepherd.
I wandered a long time over the earth
before I was skillful in the sciences.
I have wandered, I have walked,
I have slept in a hundred islands,
I have grown restless in a hundred towns.

O you, wise druids,
ask of Authur
who is older
than me, in the chants!
Someone has come to think of the flood
and Christ crucified
and the judgment day to come.
Golden gem in the golden jewel,
I am splendid
I am skillful
in metal work.