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.