The Head of Urien


I carry a severed head.
Cynfarch's son, its owner, would
Charge two warbands without heed.

I bear a great warrior's skull.
Many did good Urien rule;
On his bright breast, a dark gull.

I bear a head at my heart,
Urien's head, who ruled a court;
On his bright breast the crows dart.

I bear a head in my hand.
A shepherd in Yrechwydd-land,
Spear-breaker, kingly and grand.

I bear a head at my thigh,
Shield of the land, battle-scythe,
Column of war, falcon-cry.

I bear a head sinister.
His life great, his grave bitter,
The old warrior's savior.

I bear a head from the hills.
His hosts are lost in the vales.
Lavish it with cries and hails.

I bear a head on my greaves.
After battlecry he gives
Brennych's land its laden graves.

I bear a head in my hand,
Gripped hard. Well he ruled the land
In peace or in war's command.

I cut and carried this head
That kept me fearless of dread--
Sever my quick hand instead!

I bear a head from the wood,
Upon its mouth frothing blood
And, hereafter, on Rheged!

My breast quaked and my arm shook,
My heart was stone, and it broke.
I bear the head that I took.


    Welsh; a modern version of a Medieval
    poem by 'Wesli Court' aka Lewis Turco


Llywarch Hen, Welsh, a modern version of a Medieval poem by 'Wesli Court' aka Lewis Turco, The Airs of Wales: Medieval Welsh Poems in Modern English, in Poetry Newsletter, Fall 1981, Temple University; Lewis Turco, The New Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics, Third Edition, University Press of New England, 2000, by permission of the author.