Morlais Castle

Following of from Carl Llewellyn’s thoughts on the meaning of the word Morlais, here is a poem entitled ‘Morlais Castle’ that appeared in the Merthyr Guardian, that he has kindly transcribed.

by A.C. Luthman

I’ve climbed the hill where Morlais stands
And proudly looks on subject lands,
And though no more the banner tells
That there a belted chieftain dwells,
Nor stately dames nor maidens fair
Hold now their gentle revels there;
Nor minstrel wakes his love-notes sweet,
Or guides the dance of fairy feet,
Or sweeping strongly o’er the strings,
Of daring deeds of arms he sings.
Till fiercely up the warrior springs,
And calling for his spear and shield,
He deems himself in battle field
Nor fires beheld whose meteor ray
Gave dreadful promise for the day
Nor arms, that threw a sun like light
O’er vales enshrouded in the night;
Nor mingles with the eagle’s cry,
The trumpet’s tones of victory
Though all are gone, and Ruin’s hand
Hath swept her glories from the land.
Still sits she there in queenly state
And like a monarch struck by Fate,
She looks sublimely desolate
And hundreds to her mountain home
With wondering worship daily come,
And walk round where her bulwarks hoar
The wrath of heaven and mortals bore,
Till Time, the dread destroyer, came,
And shook to dust her giant frame;
One only spot his power withstood,
A temple of the living God,
Formed in its day with matchless skill,
And, though decaying, lovely still.
And one vast rock-hewn pit appears,
The wonder of successive years,
But whether used as druid’s cell
Or giant’s grave there’s none to tell.
I gazed around with heavy heart,
Then turned my footsteps to depart,
But ere I left I looked below
On vales now rich with sunset glow,
Vales where, by labour worn and soiled,
Uncounted vassals hourly toiled,
Or armed as faithful guards were set
Upon her massive parapet,
That Morlais on her rocky throne
Might rule in regal state alone
But oh how changed! Her power no more
Is owned by thousands as of yore!
The hinds are gone who once drew near
Her mighty gates with hearts of fear,
And now the peasant loiters by
And rarely upwards casts his eye,
Save when some passing stranger calls
And asks the way to Morlais halls,
When he replies, They once were there,
But now I scarce can tell you where.

The Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian
25th July 1840