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Poem of the week: from The Gododdin by Aneirin


From an ancient set of Welsh eulogies and elegies, these verses on the impact of war remain potent – and very readable

The men went to Catraeth; they were renowned;
Wine and mead from golden cups was their beverage;
The year was to them of exalted solemnity;
Three warriors and three score and three hundred, wearing the golden torques.
Of those who hurried forth after the excess of revelling,
But three escaped by the prowess of the gashing sword,
The two war-dogs of Aeron and Cenon the dauntless,
And myself from the spilling of my blood, the reward of my sacred song.

The leader of war with eagerness conducts the battle,
A mighty country loves mighty reapers.
Blood is a heavy return for new mead.
His cheeks are covered with armour all around,
There is a trampling of accoutrements – accoutrements are trampled.
He calls for death and brings desolation.
In the first onset his lances penetrate the targets,
And for light on the course, shrubs blaze on the spears.

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