St. Patrick’s Day Poem: The Loves of Taliesin

In honor of the Feast of St. Patrick, a beautiful devotional poem by the Welsh bard Taliesin. It is a wonderful expression of the spirit of early Celtic Christianity in its celebration of all aspects of the human experience, sanctified by God: the beauty of nature, marriage, warriors, the lord in his hall, the glory of Christ.

The beauty of the virtue in doing penance for excess,

Beautiful too that God shall save me.

The beauty of a companion who does not deny me his company,

Beautiful too the drinking horn’s society.

The beauty of a master like Nudd, the wolf of God.

Beautiful too a man who is noble, kind, and generous.

The beauty of berries at harvest time,

Beautiful too the grain on the stalk.

The beauty of the sun, clear in the sky,

Beautiful too they who pay Adam’s debt.

The beauty of a herd’s thick-maned stallion,

Beautiful too the pattern of his plaits.

The beauty of desire and a silver ring,

Beautiful too a ring for a virgin.

The beauty of an eagle on the shore when tide is full,

Beautiful too the seagulls playing.

The beauty of a horse and gold-trimmed shield,

Beautiful to a bold man in the breach.

The beauty of Einon, healer of many,

Beautiful too a generous and obliging minstrel.

The beauty of May with its cuckoo and nightingale,

Beautiful too when good weather comes.

The beauty of a proper and perfect wedding feast,

Beautiful too a gift which is loved.

The beauty of desire for penance from a priest,

Beautiful too bearing the elements to the altar.

The beauty for a minstrel of mead at the head of the hall,

Beautiful too a lively crowd surrounding a hero.

The beauty of a faithful priest in his church,

Beautiful too a chieftan in his hall.

The beauty of a strong parish led by God,

Beautiful too being in the season of Paradise.

The beauty of the moon shining on the earth,

Beautiful too when your luck is good.

The beauty of summer, its days long and slow

Beautiful too visiting the ones we love.

The beauty of flowers on the tops of fruit trees,

Beautiful too covenant with the Creator.

The beauty in the wilderness of doe and fawn,

Beautiful too the foam-mouthed and slender steed.

The beauty of the garden when leaks grow well,

Beautiful too the charlock in bloom.

The beauty of the horse in its leather halter,

Beautiful too the king’s retinue.

The beauty of a hero who does not shun injury,

Beautiful too is elegant Welsh.

The beauty of the heather when it turns purple,

Beautiful too pasture land for cattle.

The beauty of the season when calves suckle,

Beautiful too riding a foam-mouthed horse.

And for me there is no less beauty

In the father of the horn in a feast of mead.

The beauty of the fish in his bright lake,

Beautiful too its surface shimmering.

The beauty of the word which the Trinity speaks,

Beautiful too is doing penance for sin.

But the lovelies of all is covenant

With God on the Day of Judgment.

From Celtic Spirituality, trans. Oliver Davies (New York: Paulist Press, 1999), 283-5.

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