Llewellyn and His Dog

by Robert Southey

The spearmen heard the bugle sound,
And cheer'ly smiled the morn;
And many a dog, and many a hound,
Attend Llewellyn's horn.
And still he blew a louder blast,
And gave a louder cheer;
"Come, Gelert! why art thou the last
Llewellyn's horn to hear?
"Oh, where does faithful Gelert roam,
The flower of all his race?
So true, so brave—a lamb at home,
A lion in the chase."
That day Llewellyn little loved
The chase of hart or hare,
And scant and small the booty proved,
For Gelert was not there.
Unpleased, Llewellyn homeward hied,
When, near the portal seat,
His truant Gelert he espied,
Bounding his lord to greet.
 
But when he gained the castle door,
Aghast the chieftain stood;
The hound was smeared with gouts of gore,
His lips and fangs ran blood!
Llewellyn gazed with wild surprise;
Unused such looks to meet,
His fav'rite checked his joyful guise,
And crouched, and licked his feet.
Onward in haste Llewellyn passed
(And on went Gelert too),
And still, where'er his eyes were cast,
Fresh blood gouts shocked his view.
O'erturned his infant's bed he found,
The bloodstained cover rent;
And all around the walls and ground
With recent blood besprent.
He called his child—no voice replied;
He searched with terror wild;
Blood! blood! he found on every side,
But nowhere found his child!
"Hell-hound! by thee my child's devoured!"
The frantic father cried;
And to the hilt his vengeful sword
He plunged in Gelert's side.
His suppliant, as to earth he fell,
No pity could impart;
But still his Gelert's dying yell
Passed heavy o'er his heart.
 
Aroused by Gelert's dying yell,
Some slumberer wakened nigh;
What words the parent's joy can tell,
To hear his infant cry!
Concealed beneath a mangled heap,
His hurried search had missed,
All glowing from his rosy sleep,
His cherub boy he kissed!
Nor scratch had he, nor harm, nor dread,
But the same couch beneath
Lay a great wolf, all torn and dead,—
Tremendous still in death!
Ah, what was then Llewellyn's pain!
For now the truth was clear;
The gallant hound the wolf had slain,
To save Llewellyn's heir.
Vain, vain was all Llewellyn's woe;
"Best of thy kind, adieu!
The frantic deed which laid thee low
This heart shall ever rue!"
And now a gallant tomb they raised,
With costly sculpture decked;
And marbles storied with his praise
Poor Gelert's bones protect.
Here never could the spearman pass,
Or forester, unmoved,
Here oft the tear-besprinkled grass
Llewellyn's sorrow proved.
 
And here he hung his horn and spear,
And oft, as evening fell,
In fancy's piercing sounds would hear,
Poor Gelert's dying yell.