The Resurrection of Rhitta Gawr
by David Samwell (Dafydd Ddu Feddyg; 1751-98)
A Chief at the time of King Arthur, who destroyed so many despots, that he made himself a Robe with their Beards, being the subject given at a meeting of Welsh Bards on Primrose Hill, near London Sep.r 22. 1792.
Location: English-Language Poetry from Wales 1789-1806, rhif / no. 7Ode.
Deep in the shadowy realm beneath,
The silent dark domain of death.
Let mortal voice for once resound,
And echo from her choral cave
Pass thro’ the portals of the grave
And wake the Heroes under ground.
Let us to the work proceed,
Bards I do a potent deed,
That shall strike the world with dread,
That shall rouse the slumb’ring dead,
Look above and mark how soon
Yonder cloud shall ride the moon,
Then the boiling cauldron bring,
To this consecrated ring,
Now the moon is gone, and hark!
Bursting thro’ the pitchy dark,
Spirits throng around us fast,
Tell the future shew the past,
Heard ye thro’ the awful gloom,
Bradshaw seal a monarch’s doom,
Saw ye on the scaffold fall,
The owner of the purple pall,
’Tis done, the elder Charles is dead,
To the Cauldron give his head,
Heard ye Tudor’s son depart,
To the Cauldron give his heart
The eighth Henry fiercer far
Than the Libyan Tygers are
Than hungry wolves that prowl for food
Than sharks the terror of the flood.
For the cauldron next prepare
The bowels of the Russian bear,
Barbarian he of wretched mind,
Who fights for pay t’ enslave mankind,
Bring her,* who with a demon’s smile
Could point infernal bombs at Lisle,
Give the priests and prelates tongues
That would varnish Gallia’s wrongs
With the to the cauldron fling
All of Prussia’s faithless King,
And the German Emp’ror’s head,
Then the charm will raise the dead,
Add the whiskers of the Turk,
Now the spell begins to work.
Bravest of those brave souls who dwell
In heav’ns confines or depths of hell,
Old Rhitta Gawr, with joy we hear
Thy dread voice sounding thro’ the gloom,
We see thee burst thy iron tomb,
And see thee in thy ancient garb appear.
’Tis thee with songs the Bards invoke,
Dark Hero of the hairy cloak,
From proud infernal faces torne,
Thou mad’st the despots for their sins
Resign the honours of their chins,
Close as when pigs by Lucifer are shorne
[lines 1–3 illeg.]
“If Europe still with lawless despots swarms
I’ll make them prove the prowess of my arm,
And tax their whiskers for another cloak.
The sons of slaughter crowding round,
I’ve heard the harps of Llywarch sound
To martial strains he swept the rapid strings,
The clash of arms, th’ ensanguined plain,
Where mercy pleads, but pleads in vain,
While horror o’er the scene extends her raven wings.
I’ve known Aneurin’s tuneful skill.
Command the passions to his will,
And mark’d his breast with youthful ardour transport glow,
As wild he sung of Cattraeth’s field,
Where Saxon hosts were doomed to yield,
And Britain triumph’d o’er her deadly foe.
Devote to freedom’s glorious cause,
The ancient Bards maintain’d her laws,
And spread their mighty influence round,
The flowing verse thro’ Britain ran
And taught the sacred Rights of Man,
While Awe-struck tyrants trembled at the sound.
Descendents of those favour’d few,
O keep their noble aims in view,
And liberty with manly strains defend
So shall the bard preserve his fame,
In every clime and ev’ry age the same,
Mankind’s instructor and the general friend.”
Chorus of Bards
Hail Liberty! enthron’d in heav’n’s own light,
Whose beams now cheer long injur’d Gallia’s plains,
Thee we adore, and hail with in druid strains,
Indulgent smile upon the votive rite,
With joyful songs we greet the opening day
And [illeg.] hour of perfect triumph nigh,
[illeg.] tyrants flee the rising [illeg.]
and hideous ruin to their impious views,
Have heap’d their Camps with mountains of the dead,
The princes of the Earth in ashes mourn
The proud are humbled and the lowly rise,
We see the kingdom of just men return,
More temp’rate seasons, and serener skies,
The sabbath of the good and triumph of the wise.
Oct.r 20. 1792.
* Her who with a demon’s smile
Could point infernal bombs at Lisle
i.e. The Princess Christiana sister to the Duke of Saxe Teschen Comr. in chief at the siege.