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Rhyfelgyrch Gwyr Harlech

Men of Harlech

Midi sound file by Barry Taylor

During the War of the Roses, Harlech castle was held for the Lancastrians until taken by Lord Herbert of Raglan for the Yorkist side. It was this prolonged siege which traditionally gave rise to the song Men of Harlech.

In 1468 the Earl of Pembroke was sent by Edward IV to storm Harlech Castle, a Welsh stronghold. This march, written years later to commemorate that battle, is known almost as well in America as in Wales. According to "Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales," "This famous march celebrates the defiance of the Welsh forces under Dafydd ap Jevan in defending Harlech Castle against the English in 1468."

(It should be noted that this is one of several known sets of lyrics to Men of Harlech.)


Men of Harlech, march to glory, victory is hov'ring o're ye,
Bright-eyed freedom stands before ye, hear ye not her call?

At your sloth she seems to wonder, rend the sluggish bonds asunder,
Let the warcry's deaf'ning thunder ev'ry foe appal.

Echoes loudly waking hill and valley shaking:
Till the sound spreads wide around, the Saxon's courage breaking:

Your foes on ev'ry side assailing, forward press with heart unfailing,
Till invaders learn with quailing, Cambria ne'er can yield.


Thou who noble Cambria wrongest know that freedom's cause is strongest
Freedom's courage lasts the longest, ending but with death!

Freedom countless hosts can scatter, freedom stoutest mail can shatter,
Freedom thickest walls can batter, fate is in her breath.


See they now are flying! Dead are heaped with dying!
Over might hath triumphed right, our land to foes denying:

Upon their soil we never sought them, love of conquest hither brought them,
But this lesson, we have taught them, "Cambria ne'er can yield."


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Copyright 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas