Gerald of Wales 'Three stories from The Journey through Wales'.

Gerald of Wales (1145-1223)

My versions of three stories Gerald tells in ‘The Journey through Wales’. These are published in ‘A Presentment of Englishry’ (Shearsman 2019)

Gerald of Wales, or Gerald the Welshman (1145-1223), is one of the more fascinating characters of the twelfth century. A highly-educated, nobly born cleric, he made a career out of annoying people. He lectured Kings and Prelates undeterred by the fact they weren’t listening to him and he was witty, curious and an insatiable collector of stories. His ‘The Journey through Wales’, written in Latin Prose, can be read for pleasure, partly because Gerald takes breaks from telling the reader how brilliant he is, and how wrong everyone else is, to tell stories like these. 

The first ‘The scene of sorrows’ is a brutal miny tragedy, the second baffling, the third quietly humorous. They are curious artefacts from the past, to turn over and consider.

These poems first appeared as ‘Three Poems by Gerlad of Wales’ in a translation special edition of ‘The High Window’.

Liam Guilar's 'Two stories from Bede'

These poems are from ‘A Presentment of Englishry’ (Shearsman Books, 2019) where they form the first of two ‘interludes’ between the three major narratives in the book.

Bede’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ was written in 731 AD.

Story One: Recovering Oswald’s Relics.

Oswald, King of Northumbria was defeated by Penda of Mercia in 642. Oswald’s body was dismembered and his head and limbs displayed on stakes. A year later, Oswald’s brother and successor, Oswiu, lead what modern media would describe as a ‘daring raid deep behind enemy lines’ to recover his brother’s head, hand and arm. The story about the raven is told by Reginald of Durham in the twelfth century.

I am intrigued by the reality of this story, hence the poem.

Story Two. The Death fo King Sigbert of East Anglia

The details of Sigbert’s story are basically as told by Bede. He was another of Penda’s victims. Or of his upbringing. Or circumstance. How much choice do you have?