Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stories

The first is an English fairytale, it tells of two sisters and is called "Binnorie".
They were the daughters of a king and lived by the mill dams of Binnorie. The elder daughter fell in love with a prince and he returned her love, till one day he took notice of the younger one, and of course fell in love with her.The elder sister grew angry and one morning invited her younger sibyling to go for a walk by the banks of the mill dams, the young girl went and sat on a stone to watch the boats sailing by and her sister crept up behind her and pushed the girl into the rushing mill-stream.

The younger sister pleaded with the elder to reach out her hand and save her, promising half her land and the young prince also, but the wicked princess laughed and said "no hand or glove of mine you'll touch, sweet William will be all mine when you are sunk beneath the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie".
And so the young princess floated on down the stream crying out for help but no one came. As it happened the miller's daughter was cooking and needed water from the stream, and as she went down she saw something white floating along, called her father, who immediately stopped the great mill wheel. But it was too late, the princess was drowned, and was laid on the bank with her golden hair spread around.

And a harper chanced to be passing by and was saddened by the sight of this beautiful dead princess and never forgot her sad face. Many years later he came by the mill and remembered the princess but all he could find were her bones and golden hair. So he made a harp out of her breast bone and hair.
He travelled up the stream to where the king lived and to his court where he entertained them with his music and song. First of all he played his old harp and everyone was happy, the king, queen, the older princess with her William.

He had left his new harp on a stone in the hall, and presently it began to sing by itself, low and clear, and this is what it sang;

O yonder sits my father, the king,
Binnorie, O Binnorie,
And yonder sits my mother, the queen;
By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie
And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
Binnorie, O Binnorie;
And by him, my William, false and true;
By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie.

Everyone was astonished at the harp's song, and the harper told the story of how he made this harp out of the hair and breastbone of a dead girl he had found by the side of the stream, upon which the harp sang out loud and clear the final part of the story
"And there sits my sister who drowned me
By the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie"

Upon which the harp snapped and broke and never sang again 

The second story is a celtic one and tells of the great hound Gellert, whose faithful watch was rewarded with death, and it is a sad tale..Bedd Gellert, is the grave of this great hound and is to be found near the Great Mountain of Snowdon in Gwynedd, of course that is the english name in welsh the mountain is called Yr Wyddfa. There are other tales told of the mountain for it is really the great burial mound of a king, but that tale will come later.

There was a prince of Gwynedd and he was called Llewelyn, his favourite hound was Gellert, the dog was as brave and beautiful as a lion but he was also a gentle creature, and Llewelyn would often leave him in charge of his young wife and baby
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One day the prince rode out to hunt, but Gellert was no where to be found and did not come to the call of the horn as the other hounds did. So Llewelyn rode off without him, and when he returned from a bad day's hunting in a foul mood, he was surprised to see the great dog bounding joyfully towards him but the dogs mouth was dripping blood.

A terrible thought came into the prince's mind, and as he rushed through the rooms following the trail of blood to his child's cradle, he found no trace of the baby in the blood bespattered cot.The prince turned with great rage upon the dog who sat patiently behind his master wagging his tail, not understanding what was happening, and drawing his sword slew Gellert for killing his child. As poor Gellert gave his last dying howl, it was answered by the cry of the baby, who lay hidden under a blanket, and on the other side lay a great wolf slain by the faithful hound.

The dog had not come on the hunt but had stayed behind to protect the child, he had sensed a great wolf prowling round the castle and done his duty.So the sad Llewelyn carried the body of Gellert to the slopes of Yr Wyddfa and buried him, and over his grave he raised a cairn and this is the place called Bedd Gellert or the Grave of Gellert.

And it is said that the phantom of the dog still hunts on the slopes of the mountain,his lonely howl, is the howl of a trusting, loyal dog betrayed by his owner.

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Another celtic story tells the tale of two arrogant and vain lords of Gwynedd;

These two lords went by the name of Peibaw and Nynniaw and were always setting each other wagers as to who had the best possesions. One day they laid a wager as to who had the best fields and the best herds and it was Nynniaw who suggested that they should meet by Yr Wyffda at midnight to contest their counter claims. Nynniaw claimed he had the best field here and Peibaw could do no better, when they arrived Peibaw demanded "so where is this field" and Nynniaw said " look upwards" Peibaw was puzzled for he could only see the vast expanse of the sky covered with stars and could not understand. Nynniaw laughed and said that is my field, Peibaw retorted "well, I will show you herds and flock which you cannot better" and he also looked up at the sky "my herds and flocks are the galaxies, do you not see my milk-white cattle and sheep which are the stars, and do you not see the beautiful shepherdess who tends them""Where" demanded Nynniaw angrily, but of course it was the moon who lit the skies so that the flocks of stars/sheep could see the pastures....."Get them out of my field this instance" roared Nynniaw, and he challenged Peibaw to a combat to the death before he would grant him the grazing rights of the heavens.

Luckily the kingdom was ruled by a mighty giant king called Rhita Gawr, and he said that if anyone had rights to graze his cattle in the heavens it was him. And with a great army he defeated both these foolish men, and because he was also clever in the arts of the druids he turned both men into oxen. To drive his message home, he made them very strong when pulling together in the plough, but weak when they were apart.....

.footnote; or how Snowdon came into being..
When the great giant king called Rhita Gawr died, his people who loved him dearly came from all corners of the kingdom to pile stones over his body. Soon the cairn became a great heap of stones above his grave and it grew and grew and it was called Rhita's Cairn. Now, if you will believe this, that the words of Rhita's Cairn are shortened in the welsh language to "Yr Gwyddfa" then this is how the largest mountain in Wales was born.

Stories retold from Celtic Myths and Legends - Peter Berrisford Ellis and English Fairy Tales collected by Joseph Jacob .

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