Kestrel's Nest

Y Llwynog - The Fox

by Dafydd ap Gwilym

(Thomas Parry, Gwaith Dafydd ap Gwilym 22)


Yesterday I was, God knows my purpose,
Beneath the trees, woe to the man who sees her not,
Loitering under Ovid's branches,
And waiting for a maid beneath the trees;
In her way she made me weep,
I saw, when I looked yonder,
An ape-like form I didn't care for,
A red fox, he cares not for our hounds,
Sitting like a domestic pig
On his haunches beside his lair.

I aimed between my two hands
A yew-bow, costly it was, yonder,
With intent, as a skilful archer,
On the hill's brow, passion's rashness,
A weapon racing over open land,
To strike him with an arrow large and long.
I drew with eager purpose
Past the cheek, past completely!
Oh my anguish, disastrous mishap,
Into three pieces went my bow!

I was indignant, but not dismayed with this,
With the fox, vexatious bear!
He is a man that loves the hens,
And scornful fowl, and meat of birds.
A man who follows not the horn's cry,
Rough his voice and his dance.
Ruddy he is against the gravelly land,
Ape-like amongst the fresh branches.
Two corners of a field he follows
A dog's shape, desiring a goose.
A scare-crow near a hill's brow,
Land-leaper, colour of an ember.
Ill-famed image of crows and magpies squabbling,
Just like the Dragon of the Prophecy
Summit of disturbance, gnawer of fat hens,
Proverb's pelt, burning flesh.
Auger of the strong earth's womb,
Lantern in closed casement's corner.
Bow of copper of noiseless tread,
Pincer-like his blood-stained mouth.

Not easy for me to follow him,
With his house down in Annwn.
Red wanderer, too eagerly was he caught,
He would outrun a host of pursuers,
Fierce his onrush, leaper of gorse,
A leopard with an arrow in his rump.

Translation © Angela Grant (Kestrel) 20/05/2007