Sunday, July 6, 2014

Welsh: Short Tales of Wonder

The island of Mona, Ynys Mon in Welsh, is called Anglesey in English; it is located off the northwest coast of Wales. You can read more about Anglesey at Wikipedia.

Arvon, under the name of Caer yn Arvon, then later Carnarvon, is the town now called Caernarfon in Gwynedd, Wales. While the storyteller tells us that there was an encounter between a goat and a lion there, this does not fit, as there were no lions in Wales of course. The story, in fact, comes from Aesop, and you can read a traditional Aesopic version here: The Lion and the Goat.

leo et capra

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Welsh (Emerson) unit. Story source: Welsh Fairy-Tales and Other Stories by Peter H. Emerson (1894).


The Giantess' Apron-Full
A huge giant, in company with his wife, travelling towards the island of Mona with an intention of settling amongst the first inhabitants that had removed there and, having been informed that there was but a narrow channel which divided it from the continent, took up two large stones, one under each arm, to carry with him as a preparatory for making a bridge over this channel, and his lady had her apron filled with small stones for the same purpose.

But, meeting a man on this spot with a large parcel of old shoes on his shoulders, the giant asked him how far it was to Mona.

The man replied that it was so far that he had worn out those shoes in travelling from Mona to that place.

The giant, on hearing this, dropped down the stones, one on each side of him, where they now stand upright, about a hundred yards or more distant from each other; the space between them was occupied by this Goliath's body. His mistress at the same time opened her apron, and dropped down the contents of it, which formed this heap.

Gwrgan Farfdrwch's Fable
Hear me, O ye Britons! On the top of a high rock in Arvon there stood a goat, which a lion perceiving from the valley below, addressed her in this manner: "My dearest neighbour, why preferrest thou that dry barren rock to feed on? Come down to this charming valley, where thou mayest feed luxuriously upon all sorts of dainties, amongst flowers in shady groves, made fruitful by meandering brooks."

"I am much obliged to you, master," replied the goat; "perhaps you mean well, and tell me the truth, but you have very bad neighbours, whom I do not like to trust, and those are your teeth, so, with your leave, I prefer staying where I am."


The Story of the Pig-Trough
In the beginning of the century, Hughes went as military substitute for a farmer's son. He got £80, a watch, and a suit of clothes. His mother was loath to let him go, and when he joined his regiment, she followed him from Amlych to Pwlheli to try and buy him off. He would not hear of it. "Mother," he said, "the whole of Anglesey would not keep me; I want to be off, and see the world." The regiment was quartered in Edinboro', and Hughes married the daughter of the burgess with whom he was billeted. Thence, leaving a small son as hostage to the grandparents, they went to Ireland, and Hughes and his wife were billeted on a pork-butcher's family in Dublin.

One day, the mother of the pork-butcher, an old granny, told them she had seen the fairies. "Last night, as I was abed, I saw a bright, bright light come in, and afterwards a troop of little angels. They danced all over my bed, and they played and sang music — oh! the sweetest music ever I heard. I lay and watched them and listened. By-and-by the light went out and the music stopped, and I saw them no more. I regretted the music very much. But directly after another smaller light appeared, and a tall dark man came up to my bed, and with something in his hand he tapped me on the temple; it felt like some one drawing a sharp pin across my temple, then he went too. In the morning my pillow was covered with blood. I thought and thought, and then I knew I had moved the pig's trough and must have put it in the fairies' path and the fairies were angered, and the king of the fairies had punished me for it."

She moved the trough back to its old place the next day, and received no more visits from the wee folk.


Eva's Luck
As black-eyed, black-haired Eva Sauvet was walking one day in Jersey she saw a lozenge-marked snake, whereupon she ran away frightened.

When she got home and told her mother, the old woman said:"Well, child, next time you see the snake give it your handkerchief."

The next day Eva went out with beating heart, and ere long she saw the snake come gliding out from the bushes, so she threw down her handkerchief for she was too frightened to hand it to the snake.

The snake's eyes gleamed and twinkled, and, taking the handkerchief into his fangs, he made off to an old ruin, whither Eva followed.

But when they got to the ruin, the snake disappeared, and Eva ran home to tell her mother.

Next day, Père Sauvet and some men went to the ruin, where Eva showed the hole where the snake had disappeared.

Old Père Sauvet lit a fir, and smoked the snake out, killing it with a stick as it glided over the stones.

After that they dug out the hole when they found the handkerchief. Digging still further along, they came upon a hollow place, at the bottom of which they found a lot of gold.


(800 words)



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