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The Song of Arth-Ursus: An Interpretation of King Arthur

Updated on April 14, 2012

The Song of Arth-Ursus by Nils Visser

At Dinas Emrys in the great hall

I toasted Yrthyr-pen-Dragon tall.

First in the ranks of Gwynedd, he pass’d

mead-filled horn with golden rim cast,

to feast the name-giving of Owain,

return’d from foster home with just fame,

on the darkest shore of far Annuin,

cauldron he took, sword and hounds of Finn.

At Dinas Emrys, in fierce Dragon’s lair,

Cunedda’s grandson was twice named Bear,

First for the Mother, the Myrddin appeas’d,

next for the Father, much was Emrys pleas’d.

Three children to him were friendly,

Cei, Bedwyr and Bors their oaths swore.

Three times hundred the Cymry,

Immortal then and evermore.

At Dinas Emrys in the great hall

I heard the Eastern Kings for aid call,

for the scourge of the Iceni broke truce,

and Canti’s foul Sea Wolves cut loose.

Emrys decid’d Powys South would ride,

Gwynedd East to halt the Raven tide,

Enniaun to guard the Western shore.

Men went to Afon Glein, Bear to the fore,

With fast steeds, Dragon banner and shields proud,

Spear-shafts held high, spear-points sharp-edged, horns loud,

glittering coats-of-mail, and hungry swords,

they fatten’d well the crows at the Glein fords.

Three cousins true, swore loyalty,

in Igraine’s court at Tintagel.

Three times hundred the Cymry,

Gwalchmai, brave hawk, at Baddon fell.

At Afon Dubglas the waters ran red.

Once, twice, thrice, four times the Ravens bled.

Brave men of Gwynned rose together,

form’d ranks, hew’d, hack’d, pierc’d shield and leather.

Nine time their sum of Angles slain,

All for the last time with wives had lain,

for the Britons went widow-making

with vengeance, their own scars still aching.

Arthur charg’d in, the shield wall as one roar’d,

a breach he forc’d, the foe’s battle line goar’d!

Like a fierce bear with single stroke he kill’d,

with renew’d strength and hope our hearts he fill’d.

Three sisters to him ow’d fealty:

Anne, Elaine, Morgaine, sweet as mead.

Three times hundred the Cymry,

Though in one was plant’d evil seed.

In Caer Cornovii acclaim await’d,

Emrys the Bear land’s chief warrior rat’d.

Arthursus brave Cymry start’d training,

weapon of shock and speed for taming

the isle’s foul foes in the olden way.

Hard work and harsh discipline by day,

at night he gave sweet mead and fair wines,

brought all the way from Gaul’s golden vines.

Three maids he carress’d tenderly,

Indeg, Garwen and Gwyl all bare.

Three times hundred the Cymry.

One wife, from Gwent came Gwenhwyfare.

At Dinas Agned foes lie in wait,

in ambush clever, captives as bait.

Forewarn’d by Myrddin, Arthur outsmart’d

Ravens, who from earthly life depart’d

their last sight the Bear in blood knee-deep,

a righteous harvest he did reap.

He rose, girdled Caliburn at dawn,

went first into Wood of Celidon.

Ring’d round him a rampart of sharp spear points,

crash of shields loud as thunder, battle join’d.

Arthur bellowing loud, press’d the attack,

that red day of brave deeds there was no lack.

Of wise advisors there were three,

Twice a bishop, once divine bard.

Three times hundred the Cymry.

Harmony in land by strife marr’d.

At Dinas Guinion allies met,

from Guododdin, troops by kinsmen led,

Brigants and Parisi looking grim,

many more a foe, chances seem’d slim.

Determin’d, the Northern men held ground,

their shield wall unbroken, then horns sound,

Red Dragon in full flight, fenc’d by spears,

Fearsome sight increasing the foes’ fears.

The Cymry charg’d as one, deadly, well-train’d,

in a morn of slaughter the North regain’d.

Arthur led the way, savage progress made,

five armies fell before his lethal blade.

Three faces of Morrigan, see

the beauty of the young Maiden,

three times hundred the Cymry,

Raven of War, Hag, death laden.

Bad tidings from Powys, Emrys died,

bloody strife, jackals for power vied,

Emrys’ life-work into pieces tore.

South we hasten’d, order to restore.

Thrice the Cymry had to fight their own,

at Caer Leon the leaders had flown,

one at Afon Tribuit we caught,

the other at Afon Bassas fought.

Bitter task, but Prydein was unified

under Red Dragon, in time to turn tide

of Aelle’s Wolves numbering thousands,

aiming to tear asunder Briton lands.

Companions hundred times three,

vanquishers of mead in Bear’s hall.

Three times hundred the Cymry,

brave warriors answer Prydein’s call.

At Baddon men in stronghold besieg’d,

on day three lookouts relief perceiv’d,

for the Cymry arriv’d at first light,

unafraid of the Saessenach might,

three hundred clash’d with ten thousand foe,

they stain’d their spears bloody in first blow.

Shield was splinter’d, sword and axe batter’d,

shield wall shatter’d, company scatter’d,

great the havoc, battle’s din, bloodshed grim.

Arthur led the way, cutting head and limb,

Dozens reap’d in single stroke by Bear’s sword play.

The Saes for terror caus’d were made to pay.

For Prydein unwise councils three,

The third, the three-fold divide of

three times hundred the Cymry,

at Camlann, cruel outcome thereof.

At Caer Cornovii Arthursus reign’d

Three times seven years, strife and war chain’d

by the Bear, now chief giver of feasts,

most generous, most wise. Men and beasts

to him bow’d low, kings swore him fealty.

All seem’d well, but then fate show’d cruelty.

While South, fighting Mark and Cedric vile,

Medrawd with viper’s traitorous smile,

Betray’d foster father and power seized.

Arthur rush’d back, with a plan poorly conceiv’d,

he split the Cymry into columns three,

thus weaken’d was ambush’d treacherously.

Upon the news Prydein mourn’d and turn’d pale,

mighty Arthur fallen at Camlann Vale.

Thrice visit’d, the Lady of the Lake,

Caliburn to receive, to mend,

three hundred Cymry to war take,

then return’d, no more was it lent,

never more has it been seen.

But it is spoken by some,

that in sleep king and blade are keen

To strike in days yet to come.

Raison d’etre: For classes I needed an epic battle poem outlining Arthur’s historical career, by historical meaning the Welsh story of Arthur, not the Medieval Romances. I couldn’t find one, so devised the drivel above in the course of the evening. As such, it's partially bombastically amateuristic, but I still like it. The history has been based on years of extensive research, so that comes pretty close to the Arthur as the Welsh would have known him.

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    • Bren Hall profile image

      Bren Hall 

      4 years ago from England


    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You've hit the ball out the park! Inlcdeibre!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Mooi stukkie! Grappig geschreven!

    • blessingsforlife profile image


      7 years ago

      Creative! Thanks a lot for sharing!

    • Nils Visser profile imageAUTHOR

      Nils Visser 

      7 years ago from Brighton UK

      Thanks! Have you read the Mabinogion?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love that type of story....very good!

    • jjackson786 profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Again, really enjoyed this! Especially the language and the imagery. Well done.


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