A Song of the Welsh
(St. David’s Day, 1916)
By A.G. Prys-Jones
There is a race in an island place that rose in the morning gleam
And made its sword of an olden song, its armour cut of a dream:
And its warriors died in a stubborn pride that recked no price of tears,
And the eyes of a nation’s hope grew bright, like roses out of the dawn,
But ever the dark of the shadow came and the twilight fell forlorn,
For the feet of the iron legions pressed where Menai sobbed and sighed,
And the Saxons came in a roaring flame: and Arthur swooned and died.
Then rose a host from out of the foam, and a tyrant out of the sea,
And harried the race of the singing sword with the hounds of Normandy,
Till the quarry turned, their arrows burned, their lances thrust and leapt
At Evesham grey in the bitter day when the soul of Montfort slept.
And the men of the sword went far abroad when France was a blaze of spears,
And the longbow’s dirge was a crimson surge at Crecy and Poitiers.
But over a sunless road they trod when Glendower brake his shield,
Till the song of the sword rang loud and clear in the crash of Bosworth Field.
Then, lo ! afar from Corsica the ravening eagles sped,
From the Midland Sea to Muscovy where the trampled snows were red.
And the song of the sword came calling wild, and Picton’s henchmen flew
From Badajos through Quatre Brax to the crown of Waterloo.
And now, through the plains that the nations spoil, the new-flung legions came,
Their path was a torren of broken men, their feet were a scorching flame,
But the men of the sword were linked with Gods and neither spell nor truce
Could stem the spate from the Marne’s locked gate to the red, red wrath of Loos.
Their sword is made of an olden song their armour out of a dream,
They have seen in the rills of a thousand hills the word of the light’ning gleam.
Their dream is the soul of man unbound from birth to eternity,
And the song of the sword is a sounding chant of the psalm of liberty.
And the land they love and the land they made and the place men know them by
Is a land where a tree is a singing thing and the wind is a lullaby,
Where the mists are white in the morning light as a maiden’s bridal veil,
In a home that is ever the harp of song and legend and fairy-tale.
Source for biographical information: http://londonwelshlife.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/poetry-1900-2000-g-prys-jones.html