Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

LLEWELLYN, PRINCE OF CAMBRIA; A WELSH BALLAD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Llewellyn stood as his palace door
Last Line: "and I will yield to you."
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Desire; Hearts; Love; Marriage - Forced; Marriage - Arranged

Llewellyn stood at his palace door,
And a frown was on his face.
"Farewell," he cried to his new-wed bride,
"Farewell for a little space!

"Sith you deny me a dole of love
For the gift of my princely name,
I'm forth to seek me a love that will,
Though it be a love of shame."

Llewellyn he turned from his palace gate,
Went over the hills away;
He ate of the deer, he drank of the stream
For many a livelong day.

Llewellyn rose from his bed of leaves
One morn when the mists were red,
And he was aware of a woman's form
Stood high on a cliff o'erhead.

This woman was clad in the dun deer-skin,
But one white breast was bare,
And kilted was she above the knee,
And loose was her red-gold hair.

The sun rose behind her out of the east,
And she glowed like a flame of fire,
And she stretched her arms toward Llewellyn there
Till he trembled with sweet desire.

Then up leapt he right wantonly
And ran to where she stood,
But she waved her hand, and turned and fled
Through the dark of the tangled wood.

The woman ran and Llewellyn ran
Through bush and meadow and brake,
O'er many a craggy mountain-ridge,
Round many a quiet lake.

And twice when Llewellyn stopped to breathe
In the heat of the breathless noon
The woman turned and looked at him
Till his strong heart reeled in a swoon.

They ran all day and they ran at eve
By the light of the first wan star,
For Llewellyn followed her red-gold hair
That gleamed in the dusk afar.

They came at length to a narrow glen
Where the cliff rose sheer o'erhead.
The woman she sank in a huddled heap
And hid her face as in dread.

Llewellyn came up and looked at her
While her panting shoulders heaved,
He heard the sob of her deep-drawn breath,
And his heart was well-nigh grieved.

"O prize that the speed of my feet hath won,
Come yield with a right good grace!
You wakened my love, you may still my love.—
Turn round and show your face!"

She answered him, and her voice was low,
But welcome unto his ear;
"What vow will you vow if I turn to you,
For my bosom is faint with fear.

"If you would have me to show my face
And yield to you frank and free,
You must pass your troth you will never bed
With woman unless with me.

"If you would master a woman's love,
You must yield to a woman's pride,
For I have a knife within my hand
That else will pierce my side."

Llewellyn raised the cross of his glaive
And a mighty vow made he:
"Be God my help as I keep this troth,
If you will but yield to me!"

The woman laughed with a bitter laugh:
"A mighty oath you make:
But you vowed as deep to your wedded wife,
And now that vow you would break."

"If I vowed as deep to my wedded wife,
'Twas my father that bade me to;
But now I have won a bride of my own,
And my vow to her is true."

She has turned her round, she has shown her face
On the greensward where she lay;
And he has kneeled him to look on her,
For the evening light was grey.

He has seen the eyes of his own sweet wife,
He has seen her red mouth smile.
He has bowed his head to the dewy grass
And cried, "Woe worth the while!

"For I am shamed that I did not know
The fairest woman alive,
But treated her ill and spoke her harsh
Because I was forced to wive."

She has drawn his body into her arms,
Has kissed him on cheek and brow;
"Sith you have won a bride of your own,
Be faithful to your vow."

"What made you refuse my love before,
If now you love me so?
And why did you stain your black, black hair
A hue that I could not know?"

"Oh the love of yours I refused before
Was a love a woman would scorn,
For the love of yours I refused before
Was a love whence hate is born.

"And I did stain my black, black hair
And put off my robes of pride
That you might strive as never you strove
Ere you won me for your bride.

"For the love that falls like fruit from the tree
Will lightly be thrown away,
But the love that is bought with a man's whole strength
Will haply last for aye."

She drew his breast to her bosom then,
His lips unto hers she drew;
"You have vowed your vow, you have won me now,
And I will yield to you."

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net