The Ancient Poets And Poetry Of Wales -- By: Edward D. Morris
BSac 7:26 (April 1850) p. 226
The Ancient Poets And Poetry Of Wales
The ancient literature of Wales has for a long period been concealed, almost entirely, from the view of men of learning. It would be difficult to find, in the whole range of literary history, so signal an instance of remarkable intellectual treasures, neglected and apparently forgotten. A silence as profound as that which brooded for ages over the buried cities of central Italy, seems to have rested upon these last and only relics of a once great and flourishing people. Time, which has done so much elsewhere to bring the rich Past into light, has only added to that obscurity which has so long enshrouded them. While toil and effort have been lavishly expended in surveying and examining almost every other field of literary or scientific study, the mountain fastnesses of Wales, rich in mental as in natural resources, have been wholly unexplored.
The country within whose borders this intellectual mine is hidden, has for three centuries past figured but slightly in the history of Britain; and is now scarcely known except as a retired province of comparatively little value or importance. From the time of the first assault made by Saxon power upon the liberties of the Welsh nation, to that in which they were finally annexed to the British empire — a period of
BSac 7:26 (April 1850) p. 227
nearly seven centuries — the entire principality was a scene of the most terrible confusion and lawlessness. The daring chieftains who inhabited those portions bordering on England, secured both by the inaccessible nature of their mountain homes and by the unflinching loyalty of their vassals, carried on a ceaseless war against the English forces — a war stained, on both sides, by all the brutality and recklessness of that semi-barbarous age. The merciless conflicts of Edward I. of England with the last Llewelyn evince, in a most striking manner, the spirit which actuated both parties during the entire contest. The passage, in 1535, of the celebrated Act of Union, which put an end to this protracted struggle, and secured to the Welsh those privileges for which they had been contending, led both nations into more close and amiable intercourse; and was shortly followed by a gradual and finally intimate connection and commingling of interests and sympathies. Since that memorable period, the inhabitants of Wales have been swept onward in the current of English affairs, losing by degrees their national peculiarities, and gradually blending their private interests with those of their Saxon neighbors, till they are now nearly lost in the overshadowing importance of English interests and English feelings.
These general causes have operated with peculiar effect upon the language and literat...
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