Poem, 1863 ‘Llewelyn’

Ci Llewelyn / ‘Llewelyn and his Dog’

In 1863, a cantata was written for a performance at the Swansea Eisteddfod. It was about Llewelyn ab Gruffudd, the last Prince of Wales, grandson of Llewelyn Fawr, the supposed owner of Gelert. In it, Eleanor de Montfort, future wife of Llewelyn ab Gruffudd, asked for the tale of Gelert’s grave to be sung to her.

The cantata was entitled “Llewelyn”, with English words by Thomas Oliphant (Honorary Secretary to the Madrigal Society); the Welsh words by Talhaiarn [John Jones] ; the music by John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia).

The Welsh words were published in many broadsheets during the later part of the 19th century.

The chase was o’er on Snowdon’s side,
Had lasted since the morn;
Llewelyn reached his castle gate,
And blew the sounding horn.

He lighted from his panting steed,
His lady fair stood near:
“Where does my faithful Gelert stray?
Where is my boy so dear?

“Why come they not to welcome me,
As they are wont to do?”
“Thy boy’s asleep, – we thought the hound
Was at the chase with you.”

“Now, lady mine, stand back, I say,”
Th’ impatient father cries;
“For I must kiss my darlings’s cheek,
And eke his azure eyes.”

Then sprang he through the echoing hall,
And burst the chamber door:
No child was there, – but, overturn’d,
The cot lay steep’d in gore!

“Oh horrid thought! is this a dream,
Or do my senses stray?
My child, my child, what murd’rous hand
Hath ta’en thy life away?”

That moment, from a dark recess
(His jaws besmeared with blood)
The hound, with wild and glaring eyes,
Before his master stood.

“Hast though, then, done this savage deed,
Thou whom I thought so true?”
Llewelyn drew a dagger bright,
And pierc’d his fav’rite through.

Beneath the cot a cry was heard,
The mother knew it well:
It came upon the father’s ear
As it had been a spell.

On turning o’er the bloodstained’d clothes,
The child asleep was found;
And by his side a mangled wolf,
Slain by the faithful hound.
“I see it all” Llewelyn cries;
“No joy can now be mine;
‘Tis thou has saved my darling’s life,
‘Tis I have taken thine!

“’Neath marble tombstone shalt thou lie,
With Princes side by side.”
The hound look’d up in his master’s face,
Then lick’d his hand – and died.

“Llewelyn”, a dramatic cantata  the English words by Thomas Oliphant (Honorary Secretary to the Madrigal Society); the Welsh words by Talhaiarn [John Jones] ; the music by John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia). This cantata was composed expressly for the Swansea Eisteddfod, September, 1863. (Addison & Lucas. Regent Street London, [1864])

Music sheet for the 12 verses from the Llewelyn Cantata in both Welsh (by Talhaiarn) and English (by Oliphant).
Gelert’s grave (Bedd Gelert) Legendry Ballad in ‘Llewelyn a Dramatic Cantata’, the English words by Thomas Oliphant ; the Welsh words by Talhaiarn (i.e. John Jones) ; the music by John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) Harpist to Her Majesty the Queen. (London : Lamborn Cock, [18–?])

Poor photographs of drawings, mostly of Llewelyn [Olaf], including no. 5 of Gelert having been killed by Llewelyn [Fawr] who is holding his son, with his wife nearby, inside a large stone building.
The poem:
no 7, Legendary Ballad, Enid ‘The Chase was o’er on Snowdon’s side … Then lick’d his hand and died.’
Cover: Illustrations by D.E. Wageman to ‘Llewelyn dramatic cantata’ by John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia)
Title page: Llewelyn, A Dramatic Cantata by John Thomas. Illustrations by D E Wageman (London, 1866)
NLW MS 19146F

Not to be confused with Llewelyn : cantata for mixed choir, tenor and bass solos, and orchestra, words by H. Elvet Lewis; music by Cyril Jenkins (London : Curwen, c1913), which is also about Llewelyn the Last