This anthology presents a selection of poetry from Wales written in English in the years following the French Revolution of 1789. Arranged chronologically, it brings together a wide selection of little-known texts, some of which are published here for the first time. A comprehensive introduction sets the poems in their cultural and historical contexts, while detailed endnotes give concise biographies of the writers—where known—and explain specific references within the texts.
|Publisher:||University of Wales Press|
|Series:||University of Wales Press - Wales and the French Revolution Series|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Elizabeth Edwards is a research fellow at the University of Wales’s Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth.
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English Language Poetry from Wales
By Elizabeth Edwards, Mary-Ann Constantine, Dafydd Johnston
University of Wales PressCopyright © 2013 Elizabeth Edwards
All rights reserved.
The aim of this anthology is convey the authentic voices of poems from the period 1789–1806 while also presenting readable texts. Original spellings, punctuation and capitalization have been retained except in the case of obvious misprints, which have been silently corrected. In the case of several manuscript poems, I have arranged the text as closely as possible to the manuscript source, including all cancellations and alternatives. These texts preserve poems that are unfinished and provisional, rather than attempt to fix a single version of the text where the source gives little clear sense of what a final version should look like. Extracts from longer published works are indicated by ellipses. Authorial footnotes will be found at the end of the poem to which they belong and all symbols used for footnotes in the source text (letters, asterisks, daggers etc.) have been retained. When authorial footnotes are only signalled by asterisks in the original, where they may have been placed at the end of successive pages rather than at the end of the poem, I have added line numbers in square brackets. Authorial marginal comments to manuscript poems that do not take the form of footnotes or endnotes to the poem will be found in the 'Notes to the Texts' section. The sources from which the texts have been taken are listed in the 'Notes to the Texts', as are alternative manuscript or printed versions of the poems. My explanatory notes will be found in a separate section after the poem texts.
1. David Samwell (Dafydd Ddu Feddyg), 'Ode for the New Year MDCC,XC. As it was intended to have been rehearsed this Day at St. JAMES's'
BRITAIN, for arts, for arms renown'd
To this wide earth's remotest bound!
As time rolls on successive years,
With ev'ry blessing crown'd appears,
And claims th' admiring world's applause 
For patriot chiefs, for equal laws
Whose influence, extended wide, displays
In man, the image of the great first cause.
The center She from whence the sun
Of Liberty his course begun, 
And warm'd surrounding nations with his rays.
Favour'd of Heav'n, the queen of isles,
On freedom's glorious effort, smiles,
To throw vile slav'ry's chains aside.
And crush the antique feudal pride 
Which cruel, desperate and bold,
Long reign'd in Gallia uncontroul'd.
But reigns no more – at length the dauntless Gaul
Reclaims man's noblest right – the liberty of all.
Like clouds before the rising day, 
The gloom of slav'ry melts away,
And superstition fell and blind
Yields up her empire o'er the mind,
And bigot priests their crimes atone,
By bending at religion's throne, 
Which he the Saviour of the world reveal'd
To breathe in man a spirit like his own.
For lo! on Gallia, Belgia's plains,
The radiant light of freedom reigns,
From miserable man, alas! too long conceal'd. 
Primeval shades of tenfold night
No more shall blind the mortal sight.
The darkened nations from afar,
Shall hail fair freedom's beautious star,
Which now ariseth in the west, 
And soon shall gild the glowing east,
Where man debas'd by tyrant laws unjust,
Before his fellow man still bows and licks the dust.
Thy age, blest freedom is begun!
Proceed thy destin'd course to run! 
Till Europe's states, like Britain free,
And Asia's sons shall worship thee,
Till Afric's hords thy cause maintain,
And they beyond the western main
In groves profound, thy frequent shrines shall rear, 
Where olive tribes delighted hear thy strain,
Till virtue, peace and love abound,
And science casts her beams around.
To shew benighted nations how they err.
The muse's eye can pierce the gloom, 
That hangs o'er ages yet to come.
And hail this Æra, first and best,
That bids futurity be blest,
Distinguish'd as the whitest age
Displayed on time's immortal page, 
And hail to those, to whom 'tis given to see
This Year – the opening dawn of perfect liberty!
2. William Sotheby, 'A Tour Through Parts of South and North Wales' (extract)
From Book One
Now the soft murmurs, faint and fainter heard,
Die, while in contrast harsh from yon lone isle, 
Loudly, with ceaseless revolution whirl'd,
Bursts the cogg'd wheel, and on the anvil blows,
Falling at measur'd intervals, and oft
More mark'd by casual interruptions, fling
Heavily forth their weight of sound. Soft falls 
Upon the dewy earth descending eve,
And onward as I wander, wavering mists
Shadow the face of Nature, and diffuse
The thin blue veil, that half concealing adds
To the dim scene imaginary charms. 
'Tis now the time, when from the narrow world
Withdrawn, and its close fett'ring care, the mind,
Swift as a prisoner from long bondage scap'd,
Exulting in its liberty, at will
Arrays its wild creation; yet the bard 
That roams at eventide, through pathless woods,
His secret way, shapes not ideal scenes
More suited to the pensive range of thought,
Than yonder Castle, 'mid the ruins vast
Lifting its hoary brow. The mellow tints 
That time's slow pencil lays from year to year
Upon the ancient tow'rs, spread o'er the wreck
A grateful gloom, and the thick clouds that sweep
Along the darken'd battlements, extend
The melancholy grandeur of the scene. 
Hail, solemn wreck! Thou silent hour, belov'd
Of fancy, hail! and thou, that o'er yon hill,
Mild orb, slow rising, with soft radiance gleam'st
Upon the Castle, while each varied shape
Of turret, and nich'd battlement that fronts 
The light's full stream, its shadowy image casts
On the retiring walls.
Bold on the summit of the mountain brow
Frowns many a hoary tow'r, where Cambria's chiefs
Waving the banner'd dragon dar'd to arms
The Norman host. Breathing his native strains, 
There the descendant of the British bards,
Hoel, or lofty Taliessin, oft
At the dim twilight hour in pensive mood,
Amid the silent hall o'ergrown with bryars,
Recalls the festivals of old, when blaz'd 
The giant oak, and chieftains crown'd with mead
The sculptur'd horn, while the high vaulted roof
Re-echo'd to the honour'd minstrel's harp.
O'er yonder crag, steep, lonely, wild, impends
The ruin'd fortress, like th' aerial shape 
Of battlement or broken citadel,
That when at eve autumnal gales arise,
Crowns the grey fleeces of the floating clouds.
Stranger! beneath yon tow'r a vaulted path
Down the steep mountain leads; with flaming torch 
Amid the windings of the cliff descend,
Where, in its deep recess, the hollow'd rock
Catches the gather'd damps, that drop by drop
Fall through the porous stone. Gilt by the blaze,
The radiant cave, the dews that gem the roof 
Shedding around from long pellucid points
The mimic diamonds, veins of sparry ore,
That glittering down the arches' crystal sides
Their interlacing fret-work weave, renew
The visionary scenes to childhood dear, 
Of subterranean palaces, the haunts
Of Genii brooding o'er their secret wealth.
... O'er the sunny lawns
The scatter'd groves of graceful foliage bloom, 
Mingling with sweet variety: The hills
Sink softly melting to the plain beneath,
Lost gradual in its level, as the stream
That glides into the bosom of the sea:
High low'r the wilder steeps, darken'd with oaks 
Majestic, as bold nature unconfin'd
Spreads in his forest range; and at the base
Of yon wood-waving cliff, where the proud wreck
Of ancient Dinevawr sublimely lifts
Its ivied battlements, swift Towy winds 
Voluminous, in many a lucid fold
Wildly meand'ring; while beyond arise
The verdant heights that guard the shelter'd vale
And fade away, dim'd by the distant clouds.
[Line 84] Caerfily Castle
[Line 230] Caraigcennin, the remains of a British fortress.
From Book Two
... O thou who seek'st
Yon rude coast's verge extreme that o'er the flood 
Projects its craggy brow, cautious explore
The solitary path; no print appears
Of human step, save where thy stranger mien
Scares the shy wildness of the lonely child,
Who with her lean flock creeps for warmth beneath 
The wither'd hedge. She knows not to direct
Thy doubtful way, alone the narrow bound
Of her rude range she knows, nor dreams of worlds
Beyond the limits of the barren waste.
Thee, Snowdon! king of Cambrian mountain hail!
With many a lengthen'd pause my ling'ring feet
Follow th' experienc'd guide; a Veteran maim'd 
With glorious wounds, that late on Calpe's height
Bled in his country's cause; though time has mark'd
With graceful touch his silver hair, yet health,
The child of temperance, has fix'd the rose
Of youth upon his cheek; keen beams his eye 
Beneath his hoary brow, and firm his foot
Springs upon the steepness of the rough ascent.
Proud of his native land the Veteran points
To every mountain, wood, and winding stream,
That by tradition sacred made records 
His great forefathers' deeds: for not deriv'd
Of simple lineage the brave warrior boasts
Hereditary blood of British chiefs,
Cadwallader or Roderic's ancient stem.
Tremendous Snowdon! while I gradual climb 
Thy craggy heights, tho' intermingled clouds
Various of wa'try grey, and sable hue,
Obscure th' uncertain prospects, from thy brow
His wildest views the mountain genius flings.
Now high and swift flits the thin rack along, 
Skirted with rainbow dyes, now deep below
(While the fierce sun strikes the illumin'd top)
Slow sails the gloomy storm, and all beneath,
By vaporous exhalation hid, lies lost
In darkness; save at once where drifted mists, 
Cut by strong gusts of eddying winds, expose
The transitory scenes. Here broken cliffs
Caught at long intervals, anon a sea
Of liquid light, dark woods, and cities gay
With gleaming spires, brown moors, and verdant vales, 
In swift succession rush upon the sight.
Now swift on with side the gather'd clouds,
As by a sudden touch of magic, wide
Recede, and the fair face of heaven and earth
Appears. Amid the vast horizon's stretch, 
In restless gaze the eye of wonder darts
O'er th' expanse; mountains on mountains pil'd,
And winding bays, and promontories huge,
Lakes and meand'ring rivers, from their source,
Trace'd to the distant ocean: scatter'd isles 
Dark rising from the watery waste, and seas
Dividing kingdoms, and Ierne crown'd
By Wicklowe's lofty range. Thou who aspir'st
To imitate the soft aerial hue,
Flung o'er the living scenes of chaste Lorraine; 
Here, when the breath of autumn blows along
The blue serene, gaze on th' harmonious glow
Wide spread around, when not a cloud disturbs
The mellow light, that with a golden tint
Gleams through the grey veil of thin haze, diffus'd 
In trembling undulation o'er the scenes.
3. Anon., 'An Ode to Commerce. Inscribed to John Wilkinson, Esq. the distinguished iron master'
Maid of multifarious form,
Perhaps without a parent born,
Unless we trace thy lineage high,
And find a father in the sky,
Denizen of ev'ry clime, 
It must be from a source divine!
Once, and thou wert then a child,
Wandering o'er the woodland wild,
Gleaning from the thieving thorn
The wool from passing fleeces torn, 
Ere the shuttle knew to go,
Ere the waters knew the prow.
O'er the river's rapid way,
Plenty bade the plain be gay;
Want and thou, with head and heart, 
Mother, nurse, of many an art,
Gave the young, expanding thought,
Now with many a project fraught;
Hence the forest's tallest oak
Fell beneath the steady stroke; 
Hence the deep incision sunk,
And sound proclaim'd the hollow trunk;
Hence thy trod the pathless isle
That severs still the streams of Nile.
The tail that steers the eagle's way 
Bade the boat the helm obey;
The stately swan's impelling feet
Bade the oar the current meet;
The wing unsullied taught the sail
To spread and grasp the growing gale. 
Wider as thy charms expand,
Other regions court thy smiles,
Cities crown the sinking strand,
Arches bind Venetian isles;
Pleas'd the Adriatic tide 
O'er the Crescent cast a shade,
Roll'd its wealth, and taught his bride
To triumph in the power of trade.
Let by thee to objects new,
Columbus spurn'd the narrow view, 
Creator like, a world he gave
Beyond the wide Atlantic wave;
Hence, with gems to deck thy throne,
Rolls the pearly Amazon;
Hence, to heap thy growing stores, 
The wealth of Peru, de la Planta pours.
And Kiang, Ocean's eldest child,
With orient treasure gay,
Loud rolling from the summits wild,
Still wafts the tribute to its parent sea. 
Freedom and thine equal law,
Brav'd the tyrant's iron paw,
Bade the Belgic bogs display
An empire – stolen from the sea!
Bade the daring sons of gain, 
Ere their name as yet was known,
De Ruyters, Tromps, assert their claim,
And grasp the naval trident as their own!
Hence, beneath thy liberal smiles,
Expiring freedom saw, 
And bade her native, envy'd isles
Adopt her son Nassau!
To hurl destruction on her foes,
Now indignant Britain rose –
Commercial freedom, William, join – 
Theirs La Hogue! and theirs the Boyne!
Contest gave that credit birth,
The wonder now that proves thy worth,
That bade the gradual glory rise,
That nations, leagu'd in arms, defies! 
That Europe's pending balance guides,
And leads the car of triumph o'er the tides!
Grateful Britain, commerce joins
With honour's wreath to bind
The patriot head, whose purpose proves 
The welfare of mankind:
Awhile to war and heroes dumb,
The silver trump of Fame,
Thy country, Wilkinson, employs
To sound thy worthier name! 
Scotia far, thy works display,
And Cornwall rushing to the sea,
Where Cumbria spreads th' extended shore,
And Cambria's hilly summits soar,
Where'er thine eye exploring bends, 
Teeming plenty still attends,
While industry with busy glee,
Finds her thousands fed by thee.
Still load with wealth, and lead the stream,
And bid th' eternal arch expand; 
Cherish still th' effective flame,
While art applauds thy fost'ring hand;
King of Commerce, coin a mine,
And let a deathless name be thine!
4. Richard Llwyd, 'An Ode for the New Year , Inscribed to Paul Panton, of Plasgwyn, Esq.'
Genius of freedom's favour'd isles!
Lo, on yonder cliff she smiles;
Smile, as spreads the bright'ning blaze,
Lucid reason's liberal rays!
The tomes that wasting times defy, 
And fancy's retrospective eye,
Still forms the phalanx firm and free,
When listening on the rock's rough side,
As dulcet, on the ærial tide,
From oaken groves, that distant rung; 
As inspiration's minstrel sung
The loud prophetic strain,
The bliss that freedom's hand bestows,
The gen'rous flame, that awes her foes,
And pour'd it not in vain. 
Such as o'er the trackless heath,
Unharass'd yet in fields of death,
Unfetter'd freedom ran;
Ere yet the moated rampart knew
Oppression's callous steel-clad crew, 
Her foes, and those of man!
'Twas now, by dread contention drest,
The fair assum'd the hostile crest,
The pointed spear, the shield,
Now taught the gen'rous breast to glow, 
Assert its right, direct the blow,
And dare the tented field.
Awhile to desolation doom'd,
As either rose alternate bloom'd
In discord's hated hue; 
And freedom, Britain, pining, saw
Progressive slaughter's iron paw,
The fatal field bestrew.
Yet peace again her reign renews,
And commerce op'd her boundless views, 
Hence the blissful union broke
The feudal despot's galling yoke,
Fair freedom's dome Britannia's offspring grace,
And hail a chieftain from her genuine race.
Hence the glorious theme was sung, 
Hence her fields and vallies rung,
The sounds her torrents still retain,
And tell it to the ambient main!
Triumphant Thames proclaims it far,
Responsive roars the Delawar: 
Old Ocean pleas'd returns the strain,
And pours it on the polish'd Seine.
Hail, all hail, the godlike ray
That sparkles, kindles into day;
Gallia feeds the gen'rous flame, 
Soars, to raise the human name,
Spurns a tyrant's mad decrees,
Nor rears a myriad for one fiend's caprice.
The breast that boasts the beam benign
Exalts the social to divine, 
Where love of public virtue glows,
From private worth the blessing flows;
This constitutes the general good,
As confluent streams compose the flood.
Yet, Panton, tho' the shield be thine, 
Where Britain's regal roses bloom,
And Emlyn, Cowryd's patriot line.
That brav'd awhile their country's doom;
For these, beyond the domes of death,
The braided laurel Cambria leads 
Her happier hour entwines a wreath
For virtues that adorn the shades.
5. Richard Llwyd, 'Ode, for the Anniversary of St. David '
Britons! Brothers! yours the lay
That hails your country's festal day;
And be with pride the symbol shewn,
That marks its triumph as your own.
'Twas thus Menevia's shepherd sung, 
When heav'n on ev'ry accent hung –
When, op'ning prospects bright and new,
He sprinkled Hermon's holy dew.
The pages of eventful store,
The muse of retrospective lore, 
Can weary'd Britain's warlike race
Thro' time's envelop'd foldings trace.
While Europe from each crowded shore
Pour'd her savage outcasts o'er,
Oppression stalk'd her blood stain'd way, 
And urg'd a woman's arm to slay.
Alternate theirs – on death-fraught plains –
The victor's triumph – captive's chains;
Yet Britons vanquish'd – Rome could awe –
Rome, that gave the world its law! 
Harrass'd by the hydra foe,
Cambria shew'd her cliffs of snow,
And bade her native offspring be,
To time's remotest period, free;
Nurtur'd in the British isles, 
On other realms, lo, Freedom smiles;
Nor be to these the bliss confin'd,
But grasp the boon – all human kind.
6. David Thomas (Dafydd Ddu Eryri), 'The Banks of the Menai. An Ode'
Inscribed to the Druidical Society of Anglesey.
Recited at the Meeting of the Welch [sic] Bards on Primrose Hill, September 22nd, 1792.
BEHOLD the fair testaceous shore,
Which oft was stain'd with human gore,
Methinks aerial forms surround,
As guardians of this fairy ground;
Loth to disturb the Druid's solemn shade, 
I softly glide along the verdant glade.
Here inspiration's tribe, before
Excel'd in deep prophetic lore,
In yonder antiquated cell
The white rob'd virgins lov'd to dwell; 
There ancient bards consum'd their midnight oil,
Enrapt in thought, or bent on mystic toil.
Surprising beauties strike my eyes,
From land and water, earth and skies;
The rural scene, the prospect bright, 
Rush now spontaneous on my sight:
Here nature's works, how beauteous and how great,
Where the wise patriots find a sweet retreat!
Here Gwalchmai tun'd his nervous lays,
And sung the conquests of his days; 
Here liv'd Caradog, bold and brave,
Who spurn'd the terrors of the grave;
Heroes of old, who wore the martial wreath,
And gain'd true honour in the fields of death.
Let all who in the paths succeed, 
Excel in every godlike deed.
Ye men, who claim the honour'd line,
The spark of genius cause to shine,
Transfer young merit's fairest bloom
To regions far beyond the tomb; 
Let Britons, of the Tudor's race,
Enjoy the philosophic blaze,
Each bosom warm in freedom's cause,
And yet obedient to the laws;
Then shall your fame extend from pole to pole, 
Your well-known worth to distant ages roll.
Excerpted from English Language Poetry from Wales by Elizabeth Edwards, Mary-Ann Constantine, Dafydd Johnston. Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Edwards. Excerpted by permission of University of Wales Press.
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Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Notes to the Texts