Men of Harlech

 

According to Wikipedia Men of Harlech / Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech dates from the 19th century, but the history of the Welsh words seems unclear and the English versions are extremely free translations.

This is my attempt to keep as close to the original Welsh as I can, whilst retaining the powerful rhythm that drives the song. I’ve used the Welsh words attributed to John Hughes (Ceiriog) of NE Wales – which is where my mother’s family come from.

My son Neil commented that it’s rather different to my normal style. Yes it is, but that’s how the original Welsh is, in fact in some places it’s even stronger.

Who are the enemies? Well actually they are the English, but it never actually says so in the original Welsh, but I couldn’t find a way to make it rhyme and scan without refering to the Saxon horses.

This is the second version. After speaking to the local expert at Harlech Castle I found I had mis-interpreted the start of the second verse.  So I corrected it.

 

1. See the watchtower beacons blazing
Calling men from slumborous lazing
And the hearts of heroes raising
Strike and strike again

Hear the shouts of hostile princes
Armour clashing, foeman’s voices
Thundering hooves of Saxon horses
Rock to rock shall ring

Arfon still is standing
Praise for ever ringing
Cymru was and Cymru will
Be famed for years unending

By the beacons blazing brightly
On dead lips of comrades nightly
For the bravest and the mighty
Freedom calls us now.

2. Though oppressors slay and slaughter
Harlech, Harlech Freedom’s Daughter
Brave men’s blood salvation bought her
God gives victory.

See the Cymru and their hosting
Mountain slopes are darkly covering
Like a mighty torrent pouring
Shouting as they come.

Victory shall be written
Foreign foes be smitten
Hearts held high shall victory bring
With stabbing swords of Britons

Sword on bitter sword shall batter
Steel on steel shall loudly clatter
Gwalia’s banner foes shall shatter.
Freedom shall remain.

Malcolm Cowen (Cerddaf)

1. Wele goelcerth wen yn fflamio,
A thafodau tân yn bloeddio,
Ar i’r dewrion ddod i daro,
“Unwaith eto’n un”:

Gan fanllefau tywysogion,
Llais gelynion, trwst arfogion,
A charlamiad y marchogion,
Craig ar graig a gryn!

Arfon byth ni orfydd,
Cenir yn dragywydd;
Cymru fydd fel Cymru fu,
Yn glodus yn mysg gwledydd.

Yng ngwyn oleuni’r goelcerth acw,
Tros wefusau Cymro’n marw,
Annibyniaeth sydd yn galw,
Am ei dewraf dyn.

2. Ni chaiff gelyn ladd ac ymlid
Harlech! Harlech! cwyd iw herlid;
Y mae Rhoddwr mawr ein Rhyddid,
Yn rhoi nerth i ni.

Wele Gymru a’i byddinoedd,
Yn ymdywallt o’r mynyddoedd!
Rhuthrant fel rhaiadrau dyfroedd,
Llamant fel y lli!

Llwyddiant i’n lluyddion!
Rwystro bâr yr estron!
Gwybod yn ei galon gaiff,
Fel bratha cleddyf Brython;

Y clêdd yn erbyn clêdd a chwery,
Dûr yn erbyn dûr a dery,
Wele fâner Gwalia’i fyny,
“Rhyddid aiff a hi!”

John Hughes (Ceiriog)

English Text copyright Malcolm Cowen 2016

 Posted by at 1:25 am

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