The Celtic Literature Collective

Odes of the Months
attributed to Aneurin
from Lyra Celtica

Month of January--smoky is the vale;
Weary the wine-bearer; strolling the minstrel;
Lean the cow; seldom the hum of the bee;
Empty the milk fold; void of meat the kiln;
Slender the horse; very silent the bird;
Long to the early dawn; short the afternoon;
Justly spoke Cynfelyn,
"Prudence is the best guide for man."

Month of February--scarce are the dainties;
Wakeful the adder to generate its poison;
Habitual is reproach from frequent acknowledgement;
The hired ox has not skill to complain;
Three things produce dreadful evils,
A woman's counsel, murder, and way-laying;
Best is the dog upon a morning in spring;
Alas! To him who murders his maid!

Month of March--great is the forwardness of the birds,
Severe is the cold wind upon the headlands;
Serene weather will be longer than the crops;
Longer continues anger than grief;
Every one feels dread;
Every bird wings to its mate.
Every thing springs through the earth'
But the dead, strong is his prison!

Month of April--aerial is the horizon;
Fatigued the oxen; bare the land;
Common is the visitor without an invitation;
Poor the deer; blithesome the hare;
Everyone claims his labour;
Happy his state who governs himself;
Common is separation with virtuous children;
Common, after presumption, is a long cessation.

Month of May--wanton is the lascivious;
Sheltering the ditch to everyone who loves it;
Joyous the aged in his robes;
Loquacious the cuckoo in the rural vales;
Easy is society where there is affection;
Covered with foliage are the woods, sportive the amorous,
There comes as often to the market,
The skin of the lamb as the skin of the sheep.

Month of June--beautiful are the fields;
Smooth the sea, pleasing the strand;
Beautifully long the day, playful the ladies;
Full the flocks, apt to be firm the bog;
God loves all tranquility;
The devil loves all mischief;
Everyone covets honour;
Every might one, feeble his end.

Month of July--the hay is apt to smoke;
Ardent the heat, dissolved the snow;
The vagrant does not love a long confederacy;
There is no success to the progeny of an unchaste person;
Bare the farm-yard--partly empty the circular eminence;
Clean the perfect person, disgraceful the boasting word;
Justly spoke the foster-son of Mary,
"God judges, though man may prate."

Month of August--covered with foam is the beach;
Blithesome the bee, full the hive;
Better the work of the sickle than the bow;
Fuller the stack than the theatre.
He that will neither work nor pray,
Is not worthy to have bread;
Justly spoke Saint Breda,
"Evil will not be approached less than good."

Month of September--benign are the planets;
Tending to please, the sea and the hamlet;
Common is it for steeds and men to be fatigued;
Common is it to posses all kinds of fruit:--
A princely girl was born,
To be our leader from painful slavery;--
Justly spake St. Berned,
"God does not sleep when he gives deliverance."

Month of October--penetrable is the shelter;
Yellow the tops of the birch, solitary the summer dwelling;
Full of fat the birds and the fish;
Less and less the milk of the cow and the goat;
Alas! To him who merits disgrace by sin!
Death is better than frequent extravagance;
Three thngs follow every crime,
Fasting, prayer, and charity.

Month of November--very fat are the swine;
Let the shepherd go; let the minstrel come;
Bloody the blade, full the barn;
Pleased the sea, tasteless the cauldron;
Long the night, active the prisoner;
Respected is everyone who possesses property;
For three things men are not often concerned,
Sorrow, angry, look, and an illiberal miser.

Month of December--the shoe is covered with dirt:
Heavy the land, flagging the sun;
Bare are the trees, still is the muscle;
Cheerful the cock, and determined the thief;
Whilst the twelve months proceed so sprightly,
Round the youthful mind, is the spoiler Satan;
Justly spoke Yscolan,
"God is better than an evil prophecy."


--Lyra Celtica. ed. E. A. Sharp, J. Matthay. Edinburgh: John Grant. 1896, 1924. Reportedly from the Myvyrian Archaiology

Attributed to Aneurin, a contemporary of Taliesin and Myrddin. Aneurin is a typically bitter poet, similar to Llywarch Hen, a contemporary. His most famous poem is Y Gododdin. Is Yscolan "Ysgolan" of the Myrddin poem? Hard to say, though these are the only mentions of him in history.  Of course, "Yscolan" may also mean "the scholar." Moreover, the poem does seem to make reference to St. Bernard, which would place the composition of the poem into the late 12th century, and not the late 6th century of the historical Aneurin.  Moreover, as far as I know, this poem is not found in The Book of Aneurin. Finally, the attribution of "wise sayings" to various figures is similar to "The Stanzas of the Wise Men," which may have been a contemporary poem.

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