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The Story of Siôn and Siân and the Dribbling Cow

Kate Davies (1892-1980)

Then, you see, there were a lot of stories about Siôn and Siân. I don't remember them. Except for Siôn and Siân and that cow. Siôn and Siân - they lived in a cottage, you see, near Fron-y-frân. And Siân was a great nag. She was always wanting something and she bothered Siôn a great deal. And a whim came over her to keep a cow. She wanted a cow, now, to graze the hill. After she'd nagged him a lot, Siôn went to the fair to buy a cow. And he brought a cow home, a black cow. Well, when he brought her back, Siân was very peevish. It was a red and white cow she wanted, not a black one. This one wouldn't do. But that was how it was. Siôn set to work the next day.

And there was Siân. She used to go at lunchtime to the gable-end of the house with potato and swede mashed in a basin, with butter. And that was Siân's lunch every day - potato and swede mash and butter. And she'd gone out to the gable-end of the house to eat it. And well, well the cow was lying there, not very far away. And Siân saw the cow chewing her cud. And she thought, you see, that the cow was imitating her eating. Oh, her temper rose. She went into the house to fetch a hammer, and what did she do but strike the cow on her forehead, until she was dead. Well, she didn't know what to do then. When she saw that the cow had died, Siân died of shock. And Siôn came home from work, and when Siôn saw that the cow and Siân were both dead, he died of shock too. [laughter]

Well, jiw, that's more or less how the story went. I can't tell you. [Continues laughing.] But I'd rather tell it in song.

Os gwnewch chi wrando, fawr a mân,
Cewch gennyf stori nawr ar gân;
Ni chlywsoch un o'i bath o'r blân,
Rwy ddigon siwr o hynny.

Come all and listen, great and small,
I'll give you now a story in song:
You never heard such a story before,
I'm quite sure of that.

Adroddwyd hi gan Modryb Nel
Sy yn ei bedd yn awr ers sbel,
A stori wir, neu anwir, wel,
Gewch chi benderfynu.

It was told by Aunty Nel
Who's in her grave this long while now,
A true or untrue story, well,
I'll let you make up your own minds.

Ei bod hi ar gael y mae'n beth syn,
Daeth lawr o ach i ach fel hyn;
Ni fu erioed ar bapur gwyn,
Dyw hynny ddim yn bwysig.

It's surprising that it's survived,
It was handed down from generation to generation like this;
It was never set down on paper,
[But] that's not important.

Ceir hanes gwiw am Siôn a Siân
Fu'n byw mewn bwth ger Bron-y-frân,
Yn gynnar yn yr oes o'r blân,
Hen fangre digon unig.

There's a fine story about Siôn and Siân,
Who lived in a cottage near Bron-y-frân,
Early in a bygone age,
A lonely spot enough.

Mi ddwedaf hyn cyn mynd ymlân:
Un digon smala ydoedd Siân,
Roedd popeth bron yn groes i'w grân,
A phoena'i Siôn am hynny.

I'll say this before I go on:
Siân was an odd one enough ,
Almost everything irritated her
And she nagged Siôn about it.

Un dydd, fe roddodd Siân ei bryd
Ar gadw buwch er gwella'i byd,
A grwgnach wnâi ar Siôn o hyd,
O hyd i fynd i'w phrynu.

One day, Siân set her heart
On buying a cow to make her rich,
And she complained constantly to Siôn,
That he should go and buy one.

Ac wedi gweld bod Siân mor daer,
Aeth Siôn un bore tua'r ffair,
A phrynodd fuwch, do, ar fy ngair,
Am beder punt a choron.

And having seen that Siân was in earnest,
Siôn went one morning to the fair,
And bought a cow, oh, yes, indeed,
For four pounds and a crown.

Daeth â hi adre yn ddi-ffael,
Ac ebe Siân: 'Hen fuwch ddu, wael;
Un goch a gwyn own i am gael;
Rhaid mynd i'w gwerthu'n union.'

He brought it home right enough,
And Siân said: 'This feeble old black cow;
It was a red and white one I wanted;
She must be sold right away.'

Trannoeth, pan ddaeth yr hanner dydd,
Aeth Siân â'i chinio gyda hi
I eistedd mâs wrth dalcen t?,
I fwyta'n ôl ei harfer.

The next day, when noonday came
Siân took her lunch with her
To sit out by the gable-end of the house
And eat it, as was her custom.

Ac yno'n gorwedd roedd y fuwch,
A chnoi ei chil a driflo'n ffliwch.
A dyna ddechre trwbwl, clywch,
Fe gollodd Siân ei thymer.

And lying there was the cow,
Chewing the cud and dribbling freely,
And that was the beginning of the trouble, listen
[For] Siân lost her temper.

Cyn pen fawr iawn fe sylwodd Siân
Fod gên y fuwch yn mynd nôl a mlân,
Mewn tymer aeth yn wenfflam dân
A chablu yn ddiderfyn.

Before long Siân noticed
That the cow's jaw was working back and forth,
She fell into a blazing temper
And cursed endlessly

Fe gredodd fod yr hen fuwch ddu
Yn cael difyrrwch, welwch chi,
Wrth geisio ei dynwared hi
Yn bwyta'i b?ts a menyn.

She thought the old black cow
Was making fun, you see,
Trying to imitate her
Eating her mash and butter.

'Mi'th setla' i di, y creadur cas',
Medd Siân, a rhedeg wnaeth ar ras
I'r t?, a daeth â morthwyl mâs,
A dirmyg lond ei chalon.

'I'll settle you, the evil creature',
Said Siân, and raced to the house
And brought a hammer back,
Her heart full of scorn.

Anelodd at y fuwch â hwn,
A rhwng ei dau gorn aeth yn grwn,
Ble cafodd hi shwt nerth, ni wn,
Na'r hawl i fod mor greulon.

She aimed this hammer at the cow,
Squarely between its horns,
I don't know where she got such strength,
Nor the right to be so violent.

Bu farw'r fuwch, heb f? na mô,
Rhodd siglad fach i'w chwt, O, do,
Cyn tynnu chwyth am yr olaf dro,
Y creadur bitw, croenddu.

The cow she died without a peep,
And gave her tail a little shake
Before drawing her last breath,
The puny, blackskinned creature.

Bu farw Siân, mewn llewyg, toc,
Daeth Siôn, gweld corpws Siân, a'r stoc,
Bu'n ddigon iddo farw o sioc,
Dyna ddiwedd ar y stori.

Siân died, in a faint, quite soon
Siôn came, saw Siân's corpse, and the stock's,
It was enough to make him die of shock,
And that's an end to the story.


The Story of Siôn and Siân and the Dribbling Cow

More information


MWL 3891. Recorded


Kate Davies heard this story from her Aunty Kitty (Kitty Jones, her mother's sister), when she was a girl at home in Pren-gwyn (although, because of the rhyme, she stated that it was her aunt Nel who told the story). For further information about Kate Davies and her aunt Kitty, see 'the Story of Twm and Siôn and Dai and the Three Roan Calves'.

Kate Davies was rerecorded telling 'The Story of Siôn and Siân and the Dribbling Cow Dribbling', 3.v.1979, tape MWL 6449. In that version Siân, to begin with, wanted to buy a donkey. This is the opening of the second version: 'Siôn and Siân lived together, you see, and Siân was as awkward as possible. Nothing was good enough for her, you see. She wanted a donkey to start with. Well, the donkey was sold, and then she wanted a cow...'

Following the first recording of 'The Story of Siôn and Siân and the Dribbling Cow' (tape MWL 3891), Kate Davies told a story that referred to the ghost of this donkey.

'She [Aunty Kitty] had the same stories you see. She didn't have a new story every time. But she had a lot of stories. She had a story too about Siôn and Siân when the donkey lived with them - this isn't a long story - but the story was that the donkey had died. And, of course, they'd skinned the donkey. And I don't know where they'd put the skin, but the donkey's skin came down through the chimney to them every night, you see. And then he brayed: 'Ee-aw-ee-aw-ee-aw'.

That was the ghost. The donkey's skin came down through the chimney every night and made the sound of the donkey. That was the story she'd tell us now when it was time for us to go to bed, you understand, you see. After finishing the stories, that was the last story, to frighten [us]. We wouldn't be long then before going to bed.'


AT 1211 The peasant woman thinks the cow chewing her cud is mimicking her. Kills the cow.