The Tercets by Llywarch Hen

Set is the snare, the ash clusters glow,
Ducks plash in the pools; breakers whiten below;
More strong than a hundred is the heart’s hidden woe.

Long is the night; resounding the shore,
Frequent in crowds a tumultuous roar;
The evil and good disagree evermore.

Long is the night; the hill full of cries;
O’er the tree-tops the wind whistles and sighs;
Ill nature deceives not the wit of the wise.

The greening birch saplings a-sway in the air
Shall deliver my feet from the enemy’s snare;
It is ill with a youth thy heart’s secrets to share.

The saplings of oak in yonder green glade
Shall loosen the snare by an enemy laid;
It is ill to unbosom thy heart to a maid.

The saplings of oak in their full summer pride
Shall loosen the snare by the enemy tied;
It is ill to a babbler thy heart to confide.

The brambles with berries of purple are dressed;
In silence the brooding thrush clings to her nest;
In silence the liar can never take rest.

Rain is without–wet the fern plume;
White the sea gravel–fierce the waves’ spume;
There is no lamp like reason man’s life to illume.

Rain is without, but the shelter is near;
Yellow the furze, the cow-parsnip is sere;
God in Heaven, how could’st Thou create cowards here!

Rain and still rain, dank these tresses of mine!
The feeble complain of the cliff’s steep incline;
Wan is the main; sharp the breath of the brine.

Rain falls in a sheet; the Ocean is drenched;
By the whistling sleet the reed-tops are wrenched;
Feat after feat; but Genius lies quenched.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval (transl. and ed.), Welsh Poetry Old and New in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green and Co: London, pp. 10-11.
(https://archive.org/details/welshpoetryoldne00graviala)

Date: 6th century (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Llywarch Hen (c534-c608)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

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