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Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic

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Author Topic: Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic  (Read 3663 times)
Lisa Wolfe
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Posts: 4696

« Reply #120 on: January 27, 2009, 11:48:23 pm »

The story of Bran and his sister Branwen may be found most fully given in Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the "Mabinogion," ed. 1877, pp. 369, 384. She considers Harlech, whence Bran came, to be a locality on the Welsh seacoast still known by that name and called also Branwen's Tower. But Rhys, a much higher authority, thinks that Bran came really from the region of Hades, and therefore from a distant island ("Arthurian Legend," p. 250, "Hibbert Lectures," pp. 94, 269). The name of "the Blessed" came from the legend of Bran's having introduced Christianity into Ireland, as stated in one of the Welsh Triads. He was the father of Caractacus, celebrated for his resistance to the Roman conquest, and carried a prisoner to Rome. Another triad speaks of King Arthur as having dug up Bran's head, for the reason that he wished to hold England by his own strength; whence followed many disasters (Guest, p. 387).

There were many Welsh legends in regard to Branwen or Bronwen (White Bosom), and what is supposed to be her

p. 233

grave, with an urn containing her ashes, may still be seen at a place called "Ynys Bronwen," or "the islet of Bronwen," in Anglesea. It was discovered and visited in 1813 (Guest, p. 389).

The White Mount in which Bran's head was deposited is supposed to have been the Tower of London, described by a Welsh poet of the twelfth century as "The White Eminence of London, a place of splendid fame" (Guest, p. 392).

This legend is mainly taken from different parts of Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the "Mabinogion," with some additions and modifications from Rhys's "Hibbert Lectures" and "The Arthurian Legend."

In later years Merlin was known mainly by a series of remarkable prophecies which were attributed to him and were often said to be fulfilled by actual events in history. Thus one of the many places where Merlin's grave was said to be was Drummelzion in Tweeddale, Scotland. On the east side of the churchyard a brook called the Pansayl falls into the Tweed, and there was this prophecy as to their union:--

"When Tweed and Pansayl join at Merlin's grave,
Scotland and England shall one monarch have."

[paragraph continues] Sir Walter Scott tells us, in his "Border Minstrelsy," that on the day of the coronation of James VI. of Scotland the Tweed

p. 234

accordingly overflowed and joined the Pansayl at the prophet's grave. It was also claimed by one of the witnesses at the trial of Jeanne d’Arc, that there was a prediction by Merlin that France would be saved by a peasant girl from Lorraine. These prophesies have been often reprinted, and have been translated into different languages, and there was published in London, in 1641, "The Life of Merlin, surnamed Ambrosius, His Prophesies and Predictions interpreted, and their Truth made Good by our English Annals." Another book was also published in London, in 1683, called "Merlin revived in a Discourse of Prophesies, Predictions, and their Remarkable Accomplishments."

The main sources of information concerning Lancelot are the "Morte d’Arthur," Newell's "King Arthur and the Table Round," and the publications of the Early English Text Society. See also Rhys's "Arthurian Legend," pp. 127, 147, etc.

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