Cuckoo Rhymes 2, Birds and Beasts in Welsh folklore and mythology, a tale from Llanwddyn Wales
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Category: Birds and Beasts
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Title: Cuckoo Rhymes 2


A version of a cuckoo rhyme I heard in Llanwddyn parish:—|Os cân y gôg ar bincyn llwm,|Gwerth dy geffyl a phryn dy bwn.|If the cuckoo sings on a sprig that’s bare,|Sell thy horse, and thy pack prepare.|The latter ditty suits a hilly country|The early singing of the cuckoo implies a plentiful crop of hay, and this belief is embodied in the following ditty:—| Mis cyn Clamme cân y côge,|Mis cyn Awst y cana’ inne.|That is:—|If the cuckoo sings a month before May-day,|I will sing a month before August.|Calan Mai, May-day, abbreviated to Clamme, according to the Old Style, corresponds with our 12th of May, and the above saying means, that there would be such an abundant hay harvest if the cuckoo sang a month before May-day, that the farmer would himself sing for joy on the 12th of July. It was the custom in the uplands of Wales to begin the hay harvest on the 1st of July|The above I heard in Montgomeryshire, and also the following:—|Mis cyn Clamme cân y côge,\Mis cyn hynny tyf mriallu.|That is:—| If the cuckoo sings a month before May-day|Primroses will grow a month before that time.|I do not know what this means, unless it implies that early primroses foretell an early summer.|But, speaking of the song of the cuckoo, we have the following lines:—|Amser i ganu ydi Ebrill a Mai,|A hanner Mehefin, chwi wyddoch bob rhai.|This corresponds somewhat with the English:—|The cuckoo sings in April,| The cuckoo sings in May,|The cuckoo sings to the middle of June,| And then she flies away.|In Mochdre parish, Montgomeryshire, I was told the following:—|In May she sings all day,|In June she’s out of tune.|The following Welsh lines show that the cuckoo will not sing when the hay harvest begins:—|Pan welith hi gocyn,|Ni chanith hi gwcw.|When she sees a heap,|Silence she will keep|In certain parts of Wales, such as Montgomeryshire, bordering on Shropshire, it is thought that the cuckoo never sings after Midsummer-day. This faith finds corroborative support in the following lines:—|The cuckoo sings in April,|The cuckoo sings in May,|The cuckoo sings in Midsummer,|But never on that day.|In Flintshire, in Hawarden parish, it is believed that she mates in June, as shown by these words:—|The cuckoo comes in April,|The cuckoo sings in May,|The cuckoo mates in June,| And in July she flies away.|In Montgomeryshire I have often heard these lines:—|The cuckoo is a fine bird,|She sings as she flies,|She brings us good tidings,|And never tells us lies;|She sucks young birds’ eggs,|To make her voice clear,|And the more she sings “Cuckoo,”|The summer is quite near.|The last two lines are varied thus:—|And then she sings, “Cuckoo”|Three months in every year.|Or:—|And when she sings “Cuckoo”| The summer is near.|The cuckoo was credited with sucking birds’ eggs, to make room for her own, as well as to acquire a clear voice. Perhaps the rustic belief is at fault here. The writer has seen a cuckoo rise from the ground with an egg in her mouth, but he has seen it stated that the cuckoo always lays her eggs on the ground, and carries them in her mouth until she discovers a nest wherein to deposit them, and when she has done this her mother’s care is over.


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