BETA

The Head of Bran.


For an account of this British worthy, see “ The
Mabinogion,” Lady Charlotte Guest’s translation. He
was the son of Llyr, king of Britain, and said to be
the first convert to Christianity in these islands.
Hence his title, “ Bendgeid, the Blessed.” Taliesin,
the bard, “ radiant brow,” was one of the seven
princes to whom it was committed to carry the head to its
resting-place.
The head was buried, looking towards France, in
the Gwnvrynn, or White Mount, site of the Tower of
London. And this was called “ the third goodly con-
cealment of the isles of Britain ; ” for that no invasion
from across sea came to this island while the Head
was in that concealment. Arthur, “ the blameless
king,” had it disinterred, refusing, in his pride, to
trust to the charm. And this the Triads term the
third ill-fated disclosure of the isles of Britain, invasion
and general disaster following it.

I.

When the Head of Bran1
Was firm on British shoulders,2
God made a man !3
Cried all beholders.4
Steel could not resist5
The weight his arm would rattle ;6
He, with naked fist,7
Has brain’d a knight in battle.8
He march’d on the foe,9
And never counted numbers ;10
Foreign widows know11
The hosts he sent to slumbers.12
As a street you scan,13
That’s tower’d by the steeple,14
So the Head of Bran15
Rose o’er his people.16

II.

Death’s my neighbour,”17
Quoth Bran the Blest ;18
Christian labour19
Brings Christian rest.20
From the trunk sever21
The Head of Bran,22
That which never23
Has bent to man !24
That which never25
To men has bow’d,26
Shall live ever27
To shame the shroud :28
Shall live ever29
To face the foe ;30
Sever it, sever,31
And with one blow.32
Be it written,33
That all I wrought34
Was for Britain,35
In deed and thought :36
Be it written,37
That, while I die,38
Glory to Britain !39
Is my last cry.40
Glory to Britain ! ’41
Death echoes me round.42
Glory to Britain !43
The world shall resound.44
Glory to Britain !45
In ruin and fall,46
Glory to Britain !47
Is heard over all.”48

III.

Burn, Sun, down the sea !49
Bran lies low with thee.50
Burst, Morn, from the main !51
Bran so shall rise again.52
Blow, Wind, from the field !53
Bran’s Head is the Briton’s shield.54
Seven warriors are carrying the head of Bran. The seven men are holding each others’ hands, and the platform holding the head of Bran is resting on their shoulders. Some men are carrying swords. 1/2 page.
Beam, Star, in the west !55
Bright burns the Head of Bran the Blest.56

IV.

Crimson-footed, like the stork,57
From great ruts of slaughter,58
Warriors of the Golden Torque,59
Cross the lifting water.60
Princes seven, enchaining hands,61
Bear the live head homeward.62
Lo ! it speaks, and still commands ;63
Gazing far out foamward.64
Fiery words of lightning sense,65
Down the hollows thunder ;66
Forest hostels know not whence67
Comes the speech, and wonder.68
City-castles, on the steep,69
Where the faithful Seven70
House at midnight, hear, in sleep71
Laughter under heaven.72
Lilies, swimming on the mere,73
In the castle shadow,74
Under draw their heads, and Fear75
Walks the misty meadow.76
Tremble not ! it is not Death77
Pledging dark espousal :78
’Tis the Head of endless breath,79
Challenging carousal !80
Brim the horn ! a health is drunk,81
Now, that shall keep going :82
Life is but the pebble sunk ;83
Deeds, the circle growing.84
Fill, and pledge the Head of Bran !85
While his lead they follow,86
Long shall heads in Britain plan87
Speech Death cannot swallow !88