[Editor: A poem by Mary Hannay Foott. Published in Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems (1885).]
The Massacre of the Bards.
The sunlight from the sky is swept,
But, over Snowdon’s summit kept,
One brand of cloud yet burns,
By ghostly hands far out of sight,
Held, glowing, in the even-light,
As Fate still keeps the weapon bright
That lingers and returns.
O day of slaughter! Day of woe!
But once, a thousand years ago,
Such day has Britain seen;
When blushed her hoary hills with shame
At Mona’s sacrifice of flame;
While shrieks from out the burning came
Across the strait between.
Death-helping day! That couldst not find
One weeping cloud to hide behind!
Cursed day whose light was given
For search-mate to the Saxon sword
Through coverts that our rocks afford,
While Edward’s godless minions poured
The blood of the unshriven!
Ill fare we when the trees are rent,
Whose friendly shelter erst was lent
In sun, and wind, and rain.
Ill fare we when the thunder-shocks
Let loose the torrents from their rocks,
To sweep away the mountain-flocks,
And flood the standing grain.
But where the forest-giants groan,
By winds that waste the woods o’erthrown,
New saplings blithely spring!
Sank herd and harvest ’neath the tide?
There’s bleating on the mountain-side;
O’er cornfields, ere the dew has dried
To-morrow’s lark shall sing!
Sore sighs the land when she has need
The dragon-jaws of war to feed
With those who love her best;
And long shall Cambria’s tears be shed
For him who late her armies led,
Llewellyn, whose dissevered head
The Saxon crowned in jest!
Yet, in their stead whose blood is spilt,
Newcomers seize the sword’s warm hilt,
Or o’er it reach the ground!
Llewellyn! every night-watch drear
With grief for thee, brings morning near;
That morn when Arthur shall appear,
Once more our leader crowned!
But when the blood of bards is poured,
Who gathers their forgotten hoard
From memories sealed by fate?
What daring songster e’er shall soar
For us to Heaven’s death-guarded door,
And tell thereafter of the store
That glimmers through the grate?
When Famine’s empty hand is filled,
When years the shattered oaks rebuild,
Shall heroes spring again,
Brave spirits of the past to greet
Who rise at minstrel-summons sweet,
When bards the olden tales repeat
Of Britain’s mighty slain?
Nay, by the harps our fathers heard
No more shall Britain’s heart be stirred,
Lost is the ancient lore!
Spent is the breath of song, that fanned
Freedom’s low fires! The bard’s light hand,
Whose beckoning brought the martial band,
Shall seek the strings no more!
Mary Hannay Foott, Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems, Gordon & Gotch, Brisbane, 1885