lodore falls

The Lodore Falls at Derwentwater. Picture by Jez B

In the 6th century the writer of the book, Y Gododdin. included -probably by mistake – a lullaby. Experts speculate it was written in the margin of another book and transcribed as though part of the book. Thank goodness he did. It has helped this lullaby survive the 1500 years and can still delight us today. It mentions a waterfall at Derwent and at least one authority as suggested this refers to what are now known as the Lodore Falls by Derwentwater, Keswick in Cumbria. It makes the poem the county’s oldest written work. My thanks to Esmeralda’s Cumbrian History and Folklore blog for bringing this work to my attention.

Dinogad’s Smock

Dinogad’s smock, speckled, speckled,
I made from the skins of martens.
Whistle, whistle, whistly
we sing, the eight slaves singWhen your father used to go to hunt,
with his shaft on his shoulder and his club
in his hand,
he would call his speedy dogs,
‘Giff, Gaff, catch, catch, fetch, fetch!’,
he would kill a fish in a coracle,
as a lion kills an animal.

When your father used to go to the mountain,
he would bring back a roebuck, a wild pig, a stag,
a speckled grouse from the mountain,
a fish from the waterfall of Derwennyd

Whatever your father would hit with his spit,
whether wild pig or lynx or fox,
nothing that was without wings would escape.

Dinogad’s smock, pied, pied,
It was from marten’s skins that I made it.
‘Wheed, wheed, a whistling!’
I would sing, eight slaves sang.
When thy father went a-hunting,
A spear on his shoulder, a club in his hand,
He would call the nimble hounds,
‘Giff, Gaff; catch, catch, fetch, fetch!’
He would kill a fish in his coracle
As a lion kills its prey.
When thy father went to the mountain
He would bring back a roe-buck, a wild boar, a stag,
A speckled grouse from the mountain,
A fish from Rhaeadr Derwennydd.
Of all those that thy father reached with his lance,
Wild boar and lynx and fox,
None escaped which was not winged.

Translation by Dr Isaac