The Saxons of Flint

Lewis Glyn Cothy


Translated by M. C. Llewelyn



A MAN, like others, formed by God,

On Sunday morning last I trod

The streets of Flint; an ill-built maze,—

I wish the whole were in a blaze!

An English marriage-feast was there,

Which, like all English feasts, was spare.

Naught there revealed our mountain land,

The generous heart, the liberal hand,—

No hirlas there was passed around

With richly foaming mead high crowned.

The reason why I thither came

Was something for my art to claim,—

An art that oft from prince and lord

Had won its just, its due reward.

With lips inspired I then began

To sing an ode to this mean clan:

Rudely they mocked my song and me,

And loathed my oft-praised minstrelsy.

Alas! that through my cherished art

Boors should distress and wound my heart.

Fool that I was to think the muse

Could charm corn-dealers, knavish Jews;

My polished ode forsooth they hissed,

And I midst laughter was dismissed.

For William Beisir’s bag they bawl,

“Largess for him” they loudly squall;

Each roared with throat at widest stretch

For Will the piper,—low-born wretch!

Will forward steps as best he can,

Unlike a free ennobled man;

A pliant bag ’tween arm and chest,

While limping on, he tightly prest.

He stares,—he strives the bag to sound;

He swells his maw, and ogles round;

He twists and turns himself about,

With fetid breath his cheeks swell out.

What savage boors! his hideous claws

And glutton’s skin win their applause!

With shuffling hand and clumsy mien

To doff his cloak he next is seen;

He snorted; bridled in his face,

And bent it down with much grimace;

Like to a kite he seemed that day,—

A kite when feathering of his prey!

The churl did blow a grating shriek,

The bag did swell, and harshly squeak,

As does a goose from nightmare crying,

Or dog crushed by a chest when dying;

This whistling box’s changeless note

Is forced from turgid veins and throat;

Its sound is like a crane’s harsh moan,

Or like a gosling’s latest groan;

Just such a noise a wounded goat

Sends from her hoarse and gurgling throat.

His unattractive screeching lay

Being ended, William sought for pay;

Some fees he had from this mean band,

But largess from no noble hand;

Some pence were offered by a few,

Others gave little halfpence too.

Unheeded by this shabby band,

I left their feast with empty hand.

A dire mischance I wish indeed

On slavish Flint and its mean breed;

O, may its furnace be the place

Which they and piper Will may grace!

For their ill luck my prayer be told,

My curses on them, young and old!

I ne’er again will venture there;

May death all further visits spare!