An Ancient Legend
knowledge this legend - a composite account of The
months' bondage linked to The Sun God's rebirth
of The Lady, has never been published.)
When youth yet
bless'd Ynys Y Kedyrn, to maid of royal birth twin
sons were born. But even at their birth
was Death's cold lantern hung in darkening skies to
cast its shadow o'er two princely lives. And
thus it came to pass - the elder struck by kinsman's
shaft, the younger pierced by spear of treachery.
With tender bloom
of motherhood upon her countenance, yet full the
anguish rising in her breast, The Lady turned for
comfort to her lord.
Now he a riding
forth had made to western lands, and so she sought
the path his mount had trod - perchance to overtake
him in her sorrow and despair. And so the setting
sun bedecked her robes in red and gold, while
hidden folds hung russet in the fading light, as
onward sped The Lady in her need.
The evening sea
reared high and wild and hailed her comimg, and
there she cried aloud to he who dwelt below: "Llyr,
my sister's Lord, who by my power dost manifest
thyself to mortal men, whither rode my Lord from
thy domain's bleak edge?"
And he replied: "The
way, my Lady, windeth to The Dread Land's ridge,
for thither did thy Prince pass from my sight."
And so she
journeyed ever on, the night wind chill now rising
o'er her frame; and by and by she feels as though
some three-score years hung heavy on her
heart. And all the while from wearied
eyes flow tears that sting the cheek like water from
an ice-clad mere.
Anon the northern
ridge's crest is reached, and there before her gaze
a castle bridge hangs ghostly in the mist with
gate of iron. Fashioned are its bars in shape
of human bones with grasping-rings like jaws of
skulls that lifeless hang when ravens have their
The gale shrieks
loud and long and with sharp talons tears the royal
cloak of colours bright and flow'red veil from off
the weary form. There stands The Lady clad in
single robe and meagre, stained dark by endless
leagues of her lone quest. The porter's light
is cold and cheerless in the gloom as from the royal
lip the words fall few:
"Hast seen my
"Why be he
here, while his hour is not yet come?" came
the cold reply.
A shadow great in
stature shimmers in the mist and mail-clad hands
give welcome to the high-born guest, and soon a
mighty form she sees in all its awesome
majesty - in armour drenched with the tears of
grieving multitudes, and o'er the head a helmet
horned the dreadful face of Death conceals.
Terror rises in
The Lady's breast as from the knight there issues
forth a voice as from some cavern dread.
"Round hoofed is my
steed, the torment of battle and scourge of the
Kaer Aranrot a warband saw I with shatter'd
Kaer Wydyr's portal the blood-lust of champions
swelled as the floodtide.
Kaer Gwydyon the blade of the broadsword was riven
Before Kaer Colur the spears
of the vanquished were rent full assunder.
Kaer Fandwy the souls of the damned were wrenched
from their cantrydd.
been where the warriors of Prydain were slain,
from north to south and east to west.
I am the
escort to Ochren's dread keep - I yet alive, they
in their death.
Yea Gwyn ap Nyddwr
am I, my Lady, in whose dread Kaer thou
standest. Thy Lord is not yet come, but rest
thou here content - for, know thee well, none
may a step retrace across the threshold or the
shadowy bridge beyond."
A cold dark moon
scarce lights the court, but yet it shows that there
twixt barbican and inner gate lie rank on rank, unto
eternity's reach, the graves of all conceived.
Quoth The Dark
Lord harshly: "Piev y bet
hun, a hun? Gowin ymi, mi ae
gun. Yn yd una ton tolo, bet Dilan Llan
Bevno. Bet Lleu Llawgyfes y dan
achles mor, cyn dyfod ei armes gwr oedd,
(Which in the
later tongue means this: 'Whose is this grave,
and this? Ask me for well I know.
Where the waves whisper, the grave of thy son
Dylan at Llanfeuno. This the grave of thy
son Lleu Llaw Gyffes who, before his hour of doom,
invited his own destruction.')
At these words
The Lady swoons, her senses stilled as if a spear
had flown from Ochren's crenellations to pierce the
helm. And down her spirit falls like
stricken dove through chasms of eternity till all is
still. Then did she for a season sleep, for
know ye all she may not die until her High Parents
still her breath. Yet held was she in
bondage ere a ransom could be found to free her
How fared her
Love, her prince? By th'enchantment of
his mother and High Queen whom none e'er saw,
because his strength was gone and age's hand was
raised against his heart, his hour of death an hour
of birth became and thus was born anew - a wond'rous
mystery unto all mortal men.
Ere yet his body
manhood had regained, lo was he guided in a dream to
end The Lady's plight, and so he journeyed in his
hidden form to where was held his love of old and
love to be, as deep she slept.
countenance was aged and care lay heavy on the once
fair head, deep mem'ries flooded forth like waves
within the young Lord's mind and slowly drifted down
his formless soul to kiss the forehead dear.
And in an instant was he gone - back to form and
wakefulness, his dreamtime o'er.
At that same
instant did The Lady wake from sleep, the chilling
spell that held her gone. Lo love had flung
wide the portals of the keep - love, the ransom that
outshines all gold, and so she seeks the gateway and
the dawn's grey light.
The bridge once
cleared, she falters for a space as far-off voices
tremble in the wind - voices of once known subjects
of her realm.
"O, Mam", they
cry. "O, fy Fam", they seem to sing
alound. "O, Arglwyddes, dyfodwch
ger Teulu yn ystod nos hon." ("Draw
nigh this night to Thy people".)
Lo on that third
impassioned cry, a fire appears atop the eastern
hillside's crown, and sun's first ray shines forth
to strike the Lady's brow where not long since the
phantom kiss had wrought its loving spell.
Her senses reel
as velvet night with silver stars and dawn's bright
gleam and sea's white crest seem all to blend in
some vast universal wheel that spins and shakes the
mountains from their seat. Then peace and
silence and the ground is stilled once more.
But as her eyes
steal down to find again the foothold and the path,
she sees - (what mystery wrought it none may
ever know) her dress and robe now white and radiant
withall. And hand to face as witness to the
wonder, lo she stands again a maid of tender years
with unsurpassing beauty as before. And
where her soft foot treads, white flowers in infant
beauty spring, their faces moist with tears of joy.
And so The Lady
passed upon her way that morning of enchantment and
her soul was glad, her heart was light.
Gareth Pengwerin 1964