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Pa Gwr (What Man is the Porter?) aka “Arthur and the Porter” Black Book of Caermarthen, XXXI

Arthur: What man is the porter?

Glwlwyd: Glwlwyd Gavaelvawr.
Who is the man that asks it?

Arthur: Arthur and the fair Cai

Glwlwyd: Who goes with thee?

Arthur: Truly in the best way in the world.

Glwlwyd: Into my house thou shalt not come,
Unless thou prevailest.
I forbid it.

Arthur: Thou shalt see it,
If Wythnaint were to go,
The three would be unlucky — Mabon ap Modron,
The servant of Uther Pendragon;
Cysgaint, the son of Banon;
And Gwyn Godybron.
Terrible were my servants
Defending their rights.
Manawyddan ap Llyr,
Deep was his counsel.
Did not Manawyddan bring
Perforated shields from Tiywruid?
And Mabon ap Mellt,
Spotted the grass with blood?
And Anwas Adeiniog,
And Llwch Llawynnog — Guardians were they
On Eiddyn Cymminog,
A chieftain that patronized them.
He would have his will and make redress.
Cai entreated him,
While he killed every third person.
When Celli was lost,
Cuelli was found; and rejoiced
Cai as long as he hewed down.
Arthur distributed gifts,
The blood trickled down.
In the hall of Awarnach,
Fighting with a hag,
He cleft the head of Palach.
In the fastnesses of Dissethach,
In Mynyd Eiddyn,
He contended with Cynvyn;
By the hundred there they fell,
There they fell by the hundred,
Before the accomplished Bedwyt
On the strands of Tiywruid,
Contending with Garwlwyd,
Brave was his disposition,
With sword and shield;
Vanity were the foremost men
Compared with Cai in the battle.
The sword in the battle
Was unerring in his hand.
They were stanch commanders
Of a legion for the benefit of the country
Bedwyr and Bridlaw;
Nine hundred would to them listen;
Six hundred gasping for breath
Would be the cost of attacking them.
Servants I have had,
Better it was when they were.
Before the chiefs of Emrais
I saw Cai in haste—
Booty for chieftains
Was Gwrhir among foes:
Heavy was his vengeance,
Severe his advance.
When he drank from the horn,
He would drink with four.
To battle when he would come
By the hundred would he slaughter;
There was no day that would satisfy him,
Unmerited was the death of Cai.
Cai the fair, and Llachan,
Battles did they sustain,
Before the pang of blue shafts.
In the heights of Ystavingon
Cai pierced nine witches.
Cai the fair went to Mona,
To devastate Llewon.
His shield was ready
Against Cath Palug
When the people welcomed him.
Who pierced the Cath Palug?
Nine score before dawn
Would fall for its food.
Nine score chieftains.
(here the text ends.)

This is an early anonymous poem from The Black Book of Carmarthen, possibly showing King Arthur before he was the great leader of Britain, as in the time when he fought the confederation of kings, just after his crowning. Glwlwyd Mighty-grasp would later become his porter, as shown in Culhwch and Olwen, from the Mabinogion. The characters mentioned in this poem also turn up in that tale, which dates to c.1050, but is probably older.

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