Dafydd Llwyd

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Beith
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Dafydd Llwyd

Postby Beith » 31 Jul 2006, 21:31

Hi there Welsh speakers and scholars...excuse the blatant incursion of the Irish to your domain...(history repeats itself!) but I have a question for those of you familiar with Mediaeval Welsh poetry.

I came across an excerpt from a translation of a mediaeval poem by Dafydd Llwyd (Dates 1395 -1486) written to a birch tree, where he proclaims its powers and comments on how Merlin sang to it, composing verses beneath it.

One line drew my attention immediately:
"Fine haired birch tree with white trunk"

compare this with:
"Féochos foltchaín" and "Glaisem cnís" =  
"Withered foot with fine hair" and "greyest skin"

Pretty similar huh?

The latter are two sets of glosses on the birch tree in Old Irish (7th-8thC) on the Ogham letter Beithe (birch)
[They are the word oghams Bríatharogam Morainn mic Moín and Briatharogam Maic ind Óg respectively}

It seems to me, from the similarity of descriptive address to the birch tree in the mediaeval Welsh poem and the earlier old Irish glosses, that Dafydd Llwyn may have been familiar with the ogham alphabet or the glosses thereon....or indeed perhaps simply that these descriptive 'character associations' of the birch tree, were handed down over time, consistent in form with that recorded hundreds of years earlier in the ogham glosses.

Megli ..if you're reading this  - any take on it?
Or can anyone give me some more info on D.L. as regards his status as a poet? eg. was he a "Court poet"? (Google searches give me lots of welsh language links but that isn't much use to a Paddy!)

Does anyone have the original line in Welsh?

Best wishes and thanks!

Beith

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Postby Megli » 31 Jul 2006, 22:14

Hi Beith!
Taught this poem last year - the same thought occured to me.
In the end I decided it was probably just coincidence because actually the metaphors aren't THAT distinctive. They're pretty standard things that might occur to any poet about a birch-tree. But it is an interesting Celtic idiom. I've also never seen any evidence that irish ogam glosses were known in medieval Wales. Though it is a lovely poem! See below for my handout on it and the poet for my class. It's rather technical i'm afraid. the 'edition' referred to is Eurus Rowlands 'poems of the cywyddwyr', from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
M /|\
ps We seem to have different dates for the poet!


Y Fedwen, by Dafydd Llwyd ap Llywelyn ap Gruffudd c. 1420-1500

This is a fun poem because it starts off with a rhetorical address to a tree near Pumlumon (apostrophes to trees being a common topos in medieval Celtic literature) which is imagined as being the same tree under which the legendary prophet-poet Myrddin prophesied. The poet implores the birch tree to tell him what it knows, and lo and behold, it spills the beans, uttering a prophecy of the usual darogan type, with lots of echoes of Armes Prydein and including a conversation in Heaven between Dewi Sant and his mother, St Non. Several 3rd person pl. verbs are written without the –t (eg. folan for folant, ddôn for ddônt) and there are a couple of odd colloquial plurals which are important to comment on in an exam. The cynghanedd is also rich, with several interesting exceptions. Note also the poet doesn’t go in for lots of cymeriad.

You might also want to comment on the singulative suffix –en (bedw, derw -> bedwen, derwen. Nb. Also llygod, llygoden.) Just for interest’s sake, the IE root for ‘birch’ was *gwet- 'resin, gum' which is related to Irish beith, Breton bezv(enn), and Latin betula.




Y fedwen fonwen fanwallt
Eglur wyd – o gil yr allt,
Cf. Irish kenning on the ogam beith,‘birch tree’: Feocos foltchain in beithi "of withered trunk fairhaired the birch."

Note how the gwen agrees in gender with the bedwen, not the bôn with which it is in composition. fan >ban ‘fair’ or >mân, ‘fine, small’? Either makes good sense to me.

Llaw Duw a’th planodd lle’dd wyd:
Nb.  brief l-cymeriad. ‘dd = ydd, a preverbal particle used when the sentence begins with something adverbial. It vaguely has the idea ‘where, in which’, starting off as an indirect relative. ‘[it is] the hand of God which planted thee [in the] place in which thou art.’
Llety gwâr adar ydwyd.
Llety = ‘homestead’
Mynaches wyd mewn achudd:
achudd ‘seclusion’ is here referring to a wimple. So ‘a concealing covering’?
Mynaches > Lat. monachus W. mynach + fem. ending –es. Lit: ‘monkess’.

Eglur wyd dan dy gŵl rhudd.
cŵl = English ‘cowl’. Why the cowl is red beats me. ??Is he referring to the leaves in autumn (which are bronze anyway, but gold can be rhudd Cf. aur rhudd below, 20).

Preiffion sidan uwch priffyrdd
Preiffion = ‘thicknesses’, pl. of the adj. praff, ‘great’ used as a noun (cf. cryfion, y Deillion ‘The Blind’)
O dair ban dy gapan gwyrdd.
You need an yw after ban, which here is ‘branch’. ‘[woven] of three branches [is] your…’ See below!



Merddin fardd, mawrddawn ei fodd, -
This is the Welsh Myrddin, the crazed woodland poet-prophet of the poems in the BBC, Bedwenni, Afallennau and Hoianau. This is uninfluenced by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Nb. The bardd – Myrddin thought of as one of the Cynfeirdd.  fodd> modd = ‘manner’, ‘way [of being]’

wyd deg iawn – yt a ganodd:
a lineof stunning vacuity.

Dan dy do efô a fu,
Pur wiw adail, yn prydu.
ref. to the Bedwenni (BBC, 47.)
A’i afallen beren bell
and the Afallennau (BBC, 48-52)
‘and his little sweet far-off apple-tree’
Bu orchudd gynt i’w barchell.
Gorchudd = ‘a covering, shelter’. gynt – ‘in the past’. parchell >porcellus, ‘little pig’ – a ref to the Hoiannau and the Afallennau in which Myrddin addresses a little pig in his madness.

Cefaist draw – cofus y drin –
‘thou gottest yonder – memorable the struggle – great learning…’ nb. no mutation of the object mawrddysg because it’s at the start of a line.
Mawrddysg gyf’rwyddyd Merddin.
Mynag, fedwen is mynydd
Nb. mutation of vocative.
Pumlumon, pa sôn y sydd,
‘what sound there is/was’?
The conceit is that this particular birch tree is being seen as the one under which Myrddin prophesied, so it heard them and can parrot them back to the imploring poet.
A pha fyd, ennyd annawg, ‘and what might be - period of provocation – a red-gold word, and a word of a long time’. Tricky. I think the sense is – ‘tell me what Myrddin said, his very valuable words, his everlasting words…’ Or fame.
Gair aur rhudd, a gair yrhawg.

‘Byd mawr aflwydd a chwydd chwyrn,
The tree answers!
Orig adwyth ar gedyrn;
A’r byd a ostwng ei ben,
A rhieni ŵyr Rhonwen.
Rowena, ancestress of the English – see notes.
Merddin ddewin a ddywod
Translate dewin as ‘prophet’ not wizard.
Cyn treio hyn y try’r rhod.
Yn gynnar iawn gwn yr ân,
Ffiaidd ddull, o’r fydd allan:
Ni pharchan – ddiffoddan ffydd -
Remember ni causes aspirate mutation of C, T, and P, but lenition of other mutable consonants.
Gwir anach na’r gerennydd,
Na chyfathrach nac achwedd
Na gosibiaeth, waethwaeth wedd.
Gwaethwaeth: ‘worse and worse’. Sticking two identical words together like this is referred to with a Sanskrit name as an amredita or ‘iterative’ compound.
Ni folan Duw heb falais,
Na thro heb ffalsedd a thrais.
O falchder yr arferir,
A’r gau yn amlach no’r gwir.
Mwy fydd clod am bechode Unusual use of a dial. plural.
Yn ôl nog am ennill ne.
Note the loss of –f on ne. Final –f was often not pronounced after the 10th century, but it is unusual not to write it.
Eu gwenwyn hwy eginawdd,
A’u twyll eu hunain a’u tawdd.
Mae’r saint – hardd eu braint i’w bro –
braint – ‘favour, privilege’. saint is pl. of course.
A Duw agos yn digio: ‘getting angry’. Simple groes here.
Dialled Duw a welir ‘God’s vengeance is seen upon us…’

This is groes too: d l(l)(d) d l (r) (because there are two d’s next to each other they only count as one)
Arnun, a newyn yn wir.
R- at the beginning can be ignored in a line of cynghanedd, though this is not ‘official’: [r] n n n n n (r)
Rhyfel, heb gêl, a welan,
A thwyll Ysgotiaid a thân. The Scots.
Ni does ran na llan na lle
Na fan hyd Fynydd Mynne Another dial. plural. Mynnau – the Alps.
Na bo eu hamcan o’u bodd
feeble draws with n-wreiddigoll (an unanswered n at the beginning of the line): (n) b [m c] b (dd).

a’u tro ar ddywod drwodd. Ddywod = ddyfod.
Tirio wnân cyn tri Ionor
Nice draws: t r n (n c) [n] t r n (r). The n after the c can be ignored due to an exception called n-berfeddgoll.

pum llynges | ym mynwes | môr.
Sain.
Strong echoes of Armes Prydein through all this…

i Ddofr y daw| yn ddifreg
Dover, of course. Nb. this is groes NOT draws, because n at the beginning of the second half of the line can sometimes be ignored (n-ganolgoll)
Dd f r (d) [n] dd f r (g). I have put the stressed words in bold – the d of daw an the final –g are after their halves’ stresses, so don’t count.

o longau stâl lynges deg;
This is tricky – this is groes but with s-d answering st-: l ng s t | l ng s d=t (g). Cf. p. xl in the Introduction to the edition.
a llynges a ollyngir,
o Lydaw y daw i dir. Llydaw is Brittany.
Gwŷr Llychlyn a dynn i’r dŵr Llychlyn is Norway.
Drwy gennad y d’roganwr; Note the dropping of a syllable! You have to read drwy as a monosyllable anyway, as usual.
a gwŷr ’r ynysoedd i gyd
i ddwyn haf, a ddôn hefyd;
a naw nasiwn – gwn gyfri –
a leddir, meddir i mi.
Rhin fywyd y rhan fwyaf
A’u treia hwy cyn tri haf.
Dewi, ddifri ei dwyffron,
Wyrth nef, a ddywod wrth Non, Non is St David’s mother.
“yr ynys o rieni
O rad nef a roed i ni.”
A hanffo, heb gyffro gwyllt,
Hael oesael, o hil Esyllt,

See the back of the edition. Not the legendary Esyllt of Drystan ac Esyllt.
Gŵr a wna goron Owain
Stock name for the mab darogan.
Uwch  y rhod a ddyrcha’r rhain;
A chael cymod ein brodir, Nothing to do with brothers. Bro+tir, ‘land’
Gwiw Iesu hael, ac oes hir;
Ac ynys Brutus heb ran
Brutus was the grandson of Aeneas who had been represented in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britannie (1138) as founding Britain and ridding it of giants. The Historia was vastly popular in Wales and was translated several times into welsh very quickly as the various Brutiau. Canu Brut ‘Poems about Brutus’ come to mean ‘prophetic poetry’.

Hi’n wellwell o hyn allan.’ ‘from hereon in’. gwellwell is another iterative compound adverb.

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Beith
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Postby Beith » 01 Aug 2006, 15:21

Hiya Megli!

Thanks very much for the reply and for the copy of your hand out (I'd love to sit in on your classes!). I see on reading the text of your handout you spotted the ogham gloss too and cited it!

It may well be just coincidence but my reason for thinking there may be a consistent poetic description of birch in the poetic classes of Ireland and Wales was based on these thoughts:

(1) The description of the the birch with "fine hair" is a more specific poetic phrase than anything referring to its pale or grey skin...so I wondered if this kenning had filtered into poetic language through the filí as a phrase of description.

(2) Ogham survived in Ireland (albeit in later modified form) even down to about 18th C I think, through bardic school learning and certainly was retained by the filí in their teaching syllabus - with the requirement to know "thrice 50 oghams". (ie. various version of the ogham alphabet) so one could perhaps assume that certain standard poetic kennings or phrases were imbued in their teaching of poetry, device and allusion.

(3) I have no idea of the background of Dafydd Llwyd or his level of training and rank as a poet, but I thought if he were attached to bardic schools or the welsh equivalent of the filid (if there was such?) then perhaps similar allusions, descriptions and kennings would be found in conservative poetic teaching in Wales, just as in Ireland?

(4) I know there were Irish colonies in Wales in the ancient past so I wondered if some synchronicity and continuity might be inherent in the use of that phrase in an address to the birch that filtered down to mediaeval times in bardic school learning.

So I was thinking that potentially this description may be a kenning or allusion passed on by conservative poetic training in bardic or filid schools that shows continuity of preservation in Welsh and Irish sources.  All pure speculation on my part of course but interesting none the less!

Question: IE root
Do you know if there's another IE root word linked to Birch that means "white" or "bright" (in the manner of something that would have translated out to say vindos/Find) in addition to *gwet- 'resin, gum' ? The reason I ask is that I quoted in a text, Paul Friedrich's book on Proto-IndoEuropean treenames using *bherH-ģ-o  as the PIE reconstruction for birch which he proposes based on the below:

Attested by:
Old Norse bjork and bjartr ~  “bright”,
Slavic-Russian berëza ,
Vedic bhūrjá, Classical Sanskrit Bhräjate “it shines” and bhurja for "birch" ,
Old English berc / birce,
Old high German birihha and beraht Albanian bardhë: “white"

Kennings:  “brightness”, “white”, “shining”, “gleaming”


Question 2: Rhyming scheme

Could you tell me the welsh term for the poetic form this poem is written in? I haven't gone through your translation notes indepthly yet but at first pass I see an ABAB type rhyming scheme.

Best wishes and thanks again for the interesting comments and notes!
Beith

What does [r] n n n n n (r) indicate in one of your notes on text?

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Postby Megli » 01 Aug 2006, 16:26

Hi Beith!

good questions.
the l n n n n nr whatever thing is to do with a form of complex metrical adornment in welsh verse called cynghanedd. I was just pointing out what the consonants in the line were. See below.

http://home.comcast.net/~bryant.katherine/part1.html

As to 'fine hair': leaves as hair of trees is a really ancient metaphor: the word for 'hair' and 'leaves' in latin is identical, for example: comae.
Fine hair/branches/leaves and silvery bole strike me as really being pretty salient features of birches, which a poet might notice off his own bat, so to speak, without needing a traditional kenning.

I suppose it's possible that there might be a link to the ogham kenning: I just don't think it's very likely, because there's no other comparable example that I can think of. And there's an awful lots about trees in medieval welsh poetry.

what I think is shared between welsh and irish tradition is the genre of 'rhetorical address to a tree/landscape feature', like irish dinnshenchus.

PM me your email address and i'll forward all my stuff on this type of poetry and poets. They were called the Cywyddwyr. Filidh correspond more nearly to the welsh gogynfeirdd, who immediately preceded the cywyddwyr: their poetry (the gogynfeirdd) was more formal, grander and addressed to princes, whereas the destruction of the native royalty led to the gentry class taking over the role of poetic patrons, with a freer, more humourous and supple kind of poetry being composed in their honour (though a skilful poet like iolo goch could make the cywydd metre very grand indeed if he wanted to.)

blessings
m /|\
ps i'll check the I-E root thing!

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Postby Beith » 02 Aug 2006, 00:05

Hi Megli!

Thanks, will do! would you mind giving me a phonetic english rendering of the welsh bard and filid names in that email? Somehow all those Welsh consonants tie the tongues of Irish folks (and you'd never think that could ever happen, would you?! grin!)

I thought the rnnnnnnnr might be a rhyming form but just wanted to check!
I had been talking to Crow and Lorraine (board members and OBOD members) about in time, putting some stuff together on ancient forms of poetic scheme for anyone who wants to learn and attempt to use it in their native language..but that of course is contingent on being able to point out the rules first! *and not being versed yet (sorry no pun intended!) in roscad or dán díreach, etc. (and certainly not in Cynghanedd!) it will be a while! But might be something you'd be interested in? will talk to you by email about that.

Listen thanks very much for the great replies and info therein. You're very generous with your knowledge and it's a privilege to chat with you on such topics.

Yours,  
          l-

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Postby Megli » 02 Aug 2006, 14:08

welcome!

cynghanedd: kung-HAN-eth (with cung rhyming with rung and the -th a soft sound like at the beginning of 'those')

cywyddwyr: kuh- WUTH-weer (the 'u's like the a in english 'sofa', again with the -th- soft like in 'those')

cywydd: KUH-with (like english 'with')

gogynfeirdd: go-GUN-vay -rth (-th like in 'those', vay rhyming with 'day', gun like english.)
M /|\

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Postby Gwilym Goch » 26 Oct 2006, 18:57

Interesting. Just wrote an essay for my MA on this fine chap. He was one of the better beirdd brud of his time. A prophet according to his contemporaries. He activley portrayed himself as a man of mystery and magic in his own poems.

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Postby Megli » 26 Oct 2006, 18:59

yes, very true! i'm about to write on dafydd nanmor's astrological poems. any ideas? Can you remember any places in the canu brud with celestial portents/astrology? sorry to pick your brains Gwilym!
M

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Postby Gwilym Goch » 27 Oct 2006, 14:10

Helo Megli,
Have only studied Nanmor's canu mawl. And spellbinding stuff it is too. I know I've seen a few references to the stars in Dafydd Llwyd's works. But maybe the most interesting one I found by a contemporary of Nanmor's was a cywydd I copied for my main thesis on Robin Ddu o Fo^n. I copied it as carefully as possible so the inconsistencies in cynghanedd and meaning are those found in the original copy: Cwrtmawr MS14c, Mysteria Kabalae Bardicae XVIIIc, yn llaw Lewis Morris (no reference to where he got it from). I'm not sure but I think the only other place I've seen this cywydd is in Owen Jones, Ceinion Llenyddiaeth Gymreig (Llundain, 1876). His copy is probably better than mine. I've italisised all the astrological stuff. I've got more at home on this topic. Astrocelt also has a good head on this kind of thing.

Cowydd i'r Seren

Y seren y sy arwydd
ydd â sais heddyw oi swydd
Stella Cometa o'r gwin
gwawr lliwys o'r gorllewin
pa waeth y byd post oi Ben
sy waith siriol saith seren?

Byd enbyd uwch ben dinbych
llun draig wrth orllewin drych
llun Ell o'r lluniau allan
llun cleddau fal Tonnau tan
Sierion am y seren oedd
yn treuthy tair o Ieithoedd
mae noddfa lle mae'n addfed

oed Crist er pan brynwyd Cred
M:V.c meddant mowddwy
XV a chwe X a dwy
Rhyfedd ar gyfnod gwir
hoen alaeth hyn a welir.
ar ol hyn araul hynod
agos ini geisio nôd,
fo a 'r marchog ir ogof
a dyfod a'n cyfnod cof
lle nid el llew nau dau
draw i ogof y dreigiau
yno trig meddig im iaith
deirnos mewn duffos diffaith
ef yw'r llew ofwy yw'r lles
o daw allan oi dylles
llew du anwyl llu danoch
y ceiliog hardd ar clog coch
yr hwn y medd yr henwaed
a ynill grym i holl gred
ai arwydd yw herwydd iaith
y seren gymesurwaith.

am un pwynt y mae'n y pen
yma heuriad y maharen
y pymthegfed o fedi
y try'r haul oi nattur hi

Rhyfelau fal dagrau dur
a gwriadau rhwng brodur,
er da, mab a ladd ei dad
brwydr ddull bryd ar ddillad
y gwyllied hwy a gollir
blin yw'r gwaith o blaenia'r gwir.
Preladiaid o sgotiaid gant
am y gair a ymgurant
Lwmbardiaid Twrkiaid mewn taith
a oresgyn rawysgwaith,
a'r Pegwns rhag aliwns gwir
(gofidiaith) a gyfodir.
Gwyr y wlad mae'n gad gall
a diria o du arall
Eryr du a gair ar don
gwae filoedd o'r gofalon
o Galais y daw'r gelyn
gwan yw'n iaith a gwenwyn ynn
o dduw pam na weddiwn!
rhag y byd anhyfryd hwn,
Hir yw'r oes a Herwr wyf,
os Rhyhir nas arhôwyf.
Blwyddyn hir i ble 'ddâ 'n hedd
yw un awr o anwiredd
Gwyn-fŷd gwae ni y gwanfeirdd
gweddill y byd, gwae ddull beirdd
Gwyn fyd trin ganfod trwch
gwn trwyddo gan tor heddwch
gofun mab ag ofni mon
ir nordd o ran y werddon
e ddaw chware a ddechreuwyd
draw'n llys aderyn llwyd
Torri bargod tir Byrgwyn
mae yn waeth i maeth am hyn
mae'r wreichionen hen yn hwyr
yn mygu 'n ei magwyr.
nid a'n hwyr ni ad henau
oni weler yn olau
ni wyl Inglond 'n ol anglais
wedi'r sant benadur sais
o daw r 'llyg hyd y llan
ai glog aur i gil Garan
o daw ef wedi y daith
dialedd, nid a eilwaith
fo ddaw drwy ffydd llawenydd lle
yr un neidr a roen dre
Eryr draw a ddaw yn dda
od a eilwaith nid wyla
Robin Ddu
ai cant

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Postby Megli » 27 Oct 2006, 14:38

you're a hero!! thanks so much!
M /|\

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Gwilym Goch
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Postby Gwilym Goch » 27 Oct 2006, 20:35

Ymddiheuriadau lu, Megli! Newydd sylweddoli dy fod yn medru'r Gymraeg. Wna'i ddim gwastraffu fy Saesneg arnat yn y dyfodol. :wink:

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Postby Gwilym Goch » 27 Oct 2006, 21:02

Helo.
Thought i'd translate the first part of my essay for those of you who are interested. Apologies for the bad English.

The persona of the bard in the work of Dafydd Llwyd from Mathafarn (c.1400-80)

Over the last seven hundred years the cywydd form has been a powerful medium for many of our best poets. Politically, no one has made better use of it than Dafydd Llwyd from Mathafarn. In the troubled period of the 15th century he devoted himself to awakening his nation to the reality of the Wars of the Roses, and the Welsh nations chance of relinquishing the British crown through the campaign of Henry Tudor. As one academic said of him, he was

 . . [the] man that did more than anyone to keep the faith and inspire interest in Wales, even when the cause of the Lancastrians appeared to be lost, . . .  

By evoking the prophetic tradition of the Welsh, that was crystallised some centuries earlier in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum, he created a powerful propaganda in support of Henry and his followers. He promoted the traditional myth of the Son of Prophecy, and shaped Henry in the form of that ideal, so as to ignite support for the political campaign of the Tudors. In this, his poems had to be effective because

                 In the mind of Dafydd Llwyd his poems were a call to action. His was an aggressive nationalism that always needed to be cultivated in one form or another, as Wales had been fated to live in crisis, perpetually threatened by another country that did not understand her and took for granted that it owned the whole island.

So as to inspire his listeners, he imbued his poems with an emotional power by making intentional use of dramatic techniques. He created a wonderfully tenacious dramatis personae for himself by playing on the mythological meanings of his office as a bard. There is a suggestion of how effective his bardic persona was in the way his contemporaries describe him. This is how Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fychan greets him:

Head of the highway, chief prophet,
You are love’s bow in Powys.
Doubtless there is no better author
carrying a sword than you, Dafydd.
So able as you make truths
If able was the Cybil ever,
Your prayer, like Matthias’,
Is of the same mind as Adda Fras’,
You are vocal all the way to the Taf,
You are my Taliesin, my Myrddin.

This is not only a stereotypical greeting, even though stock figures are used. It also reflects Dafydd’s importance within his bardic community, the respect and honour he was given. Simply, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fychan asks for a teaching

An awenydd, Dafydd, am I
asking you upon the banks of the Dyfi,

And not only for a lesson in prophecy, but for something of much greater value

And here I am asking you,
Like breaking a tether, for freedom.

There is a suggestion here that Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fychan believed that the wondrous faculty of prophecy, and that according to the traditional pattern of the brud, ensured the coming of a Welsh victory and their freedom from the oppression of the English. The sub text of Gruffydd’s greeting expresses the need for hope at a very uncertain time in Welsh history. Dafydd Llwyd attempted to respond to this need by trying to realise his nations political ambitions through his poetry.
Dafydd Llwyd succeeded in creating an articulate persona in the mind of his audience by dressing himself in the clothes of the ideal poet-prophet. His poems are speckled with references to various aspects of this perfect figure. There is evidence of simple characteristics, such as honour and courtesy:  

I am well mannered, I do not dare
Name anyone, that I will not do.

Or of academic astuteness

I made note, I am not inconsistent,

But more than this, as is seen in the greeting of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fychan, Dafydd succeeded in placing himself as one of the descendants of the Cynfeirdd, not distant historic figures but characters that were alive in the memory of the common folk. Naturally, Dafydd inherited some of their poetic characteristics, the most obvious being the central role given to the act of seeing, as in the historic work of Taliesin and Aneirin:

Swrn a welais yn treisiaw,
Siwrnai drom, yn Sir Fôn draw.
Gweled yr wyf ar Galan
Gweryl yr ych, a’r gŵr i’r lan.
Cawn weled canu eilwaith,
Ceiliog yn cyfog y caith,
A gweled brain ar goludd,
A gwŷr i lawr hyd Gaer Ludd.

Note that the time of the verb changes, and the view moves beyond the present. This is Dafydd ‘seeing’ the future, prophesying through vision.
He suggests that he learnt his supernatural craft either directly from the work of Taliesin and Myrddin, or generally from the tradition of canu brud which these two legendary figures represent:

I have been understanding the way of the world
Being educated in crafft
By the song of wine-nurtured Taliesin,
What he did has returned.
From the song of royal Myrddin,
If I may have essence, playing is back.

He goes as far as comparing himself with Myrddin, and I guess that in the example below he means Myrddin in his European form, that is the Merlin of Chretien de Troyes and the great medieval cycles:

I have been Merlin to my king,
I knew singing before his birth.

If I understand the lines correctly, there are a two meanings here: Dafydd either states he foresaw the birth of Henry, or, less specifically, that he sang at sometime expressing the general belief in the coming of the Son of Prophecy; the other alternative is he is referring to his office as a spiritual councillor to the king, and that he was worthy of that office.
By placing himself as a descendant to these specific Cynfeirdd, he ensures that the historic community of brudwyr is at his side. He has numerous brother prophets to call upon to support his prophetic statements – some contemporary such as Robin Ddu from Môn, some Christian such as St David, and some traditional as is noted above:

While reading the attacks that are
In the work of Robin Ddu, wise warning,
And Taliesin, wise wizard,
And Myrddin of pure learning and great wisdom
And big Adda, poem of prophecy, -
In honesty it tells
Of the vast prophecy amongst us,
Of the work of David, wise and fair learing.

But it must be remembered that the authority of every one of these prophets is based on the traditional brud, on the ‘vast prophecy’, that final chapter in the national myth of Lost Britain, that promises restoration to the Welsh as rulers of the whole island under the leadership of the Son of Prophecy. Dafydd suggests in numerous places that this is the greatest authority upon the earth, and if there is fault in his prophecy, it is a fault in the ‘old Brud’:

I tell the truth, if it is to be had correctly
In the old Brud of the British.

Of course, there is a higher authority than any upon the earth. In Dafydd’s age, God was safe in his heaven and supervised the fate of his children. It must be remembered that prophecy is a supernatural activity, and this is central to its authority. According to Dafydd, it is through the grace of God that this wondrous activity is accomplished. The inspiration to prophesise springs from God, that He is the source of the holy awen:

Relate to me the truth
O God, . . .

Dafydd states that only through holy communion is it possible to understand the ways of the world, because

The way of the world is blind,
And very culpable is life.

It is not possible to understand the world according to its own ways, that is without awareness of the supernatural awen, as it is blind of itself, and humanity defective. Only through the support and grace of God can Dafydd proclaim

I have been understanding the way of the world

With this mystic knowledge tight in his grasp, and God on his side, Dafydd is free to judge the sins of his enemies. Doubtless, cursing was a cruel but necessary aspect of the prophet’s work. This is what he had to say of his greatest enemy, Richard III, and that after he had allegedly murdered his two nephews:

Unhurried God above sends
Revenge where it aught be.
God’s revenge and sight of him
Comes heavily to a wicked man.

Dafydd’s use of Christian context is on the whole effective if we consider what type of character he himself was trying to portray to his audience. As Enid Roberts noted, in his old age

It could easily be that the way he looked made people think of one of the Old Testament prophets – people of the period would have been well accustomed to pictures of the prophets, with the stain glass, the statues and the colourfulpaintings (often rough) that decorated the churches. Dafydd Llwyd lived to bemarvellously old, he outlived not only his wife but all of his children; by 1485 he could quite easily have been twenty years past the age of addewid (about 70). That in its self would have been enough to make him special.  

Here the stereotypical image is crystallised perfectly. Even though ‘stereotype’ is some what a negative word these days, I believe that Dafydd’s intention was to create such a stereotype, that is to create a recognisable figure that had the ability to communicate deep and complex cultural concepts. Certainly, everybody understood immediately what was the context of Dafydd’s poems without him referring directly to it, and that because of his use of the persona of the poet-prophet.

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Postby Megli » 28 Oct 2006, 11:34

That was wonderful. Thank you so much! roedd hwnna'n ysplennydd - diolch yn fawr! lle naethoch chi eich MA? Dach chi'n dod o ogledd Cymru? weles i bod chi'n defnyddio 'medru' am 'to be able to speak' - ffurff gogleddol? fe ddysges i gymraeg fan hyn yn rhydychen, o ffrind sy'n dod o Abertawe, ond sy'n siarad Cymraeg fel ei mam-iaith hi. gobeithio mod i ddim yn neud gormod o gamgymeriadau. dach chi ddim yn gwastraffu eich saesneg arna i, Gwilym - sa i'n siarad yr iaith yn rhugl (eto!). Wy'n trio i wrando i Radio Cymru trwy'r amser dros y We, i gael ymarfer, ond does dim llawer o gyfle i siarad Cymraeg fan hyn. fe es i'r 'steddfod eleni, a ges i lawer o hywl, ond roedd e'n anodd iawn; fe ddealles i lawer, ond dim popeth, ac erbyn diwedd y dydd ron i'n mewn penbleth. roedd rhaid gyda pawb o isdeitlau! Eto i gyd, wellodd nghymraeg i dros y wythnos 'na. Ond roedd caled i fi i ymdrin a'r cyflymder yr iaith lafar.

Diolch eto!
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Postby Beith » 28 Oct 2006, 15:32

Greetings Welsh speakers!

I really enjoyed your essay Gwylim Goch - thank you so much for posting it! Could you please help me to understand the verse below by translating it? and may I ask some grammatical questions to you and Megli. I'm not a Welsh speaker nor a comparative linguist! just making a stab at few guesses based on some beginner's knowledge of Old Irish.

So....

(i) Verbs:
Gwel:   I guess "gweled" is to do with "seeing" or describes poetic techniques or "seeing" various things? and "gwel/wel" is cognate with Old Irish "fil"  (Btw - do you use the root  "wel"/"Gwel" in the same way as the Irish used the root "fil" in Filí, Filid, Fileda for seer-poets?)

Canu = sing (which tense?) but in the sense of to "sing poetry" ie. incant/chant etc? just as "canaid" = sings and chant/teach/incant in various compouds in Old Ir?

(ii) Past tense: does Welsh have things like s and t preterites in the past tense or had those fallen away in late mediaeval times? (eg. I was wondering if welais was a past tense of "see" eg. I saw/ he saw etc?)

(ii) prepositions: is "A" used for 'as' or 'for' or 'when' in the line "A gweled brain ar goludd" and is "ar" meaning "on" or "at" or "before"?  Also <really> is i lawr same as i lár (in the middle of/centre of/ 'in' a place) eg. "in Caer Ludd?"
   
(iv) mutations: in the last words - is the word Gaer simply a lenited Caer? and is so because of effect of hyd preceding it?  

Swrn a welais yn treisiaw,
Siwrnai drom, yn Sir Fôn draw.
Gweled yr wyf ar Galan
Gweryl yr ych, a’r gŵr i’r lan.
Cawn weled canu eilwaith,
Ceiliog yn cyfog y caith,
A gweled brain ar goludd,
A gwŷr i lawr hyd Gaer Ludd.

Also, could you translate "brudwyr" and "beirdd brud" for me? I would guess that beirdd is "bard" and maybe that brudwyr describes a "caste" or grade or community of poets?eg. seer-poets?

Thanks very much indeed,
Beith

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Postby Megli » 28 Oct 2006, 18:11

Hello Beith! you're spot on with most of these - no surprises there!
(i) Verbs:
Gwel:   I guess "gweled" is to do with "seeing" or describes poetic techniques or "seeing" various things? and "gwel/wel" is cognate with Old Irish "fil"  (Btw - do you use the root  "wel"/"Gwel" in the same way as the Irish used the root "fil" in Filí, Filid, Fileda for seer-poets?)
Absolutely right - not used in a word for seer-poet though as far as I know. There's words like 'gweledigaeth' 'vision' though. Words for seer-poet in welsh are 'sywedydd' 'seer, soothsayer', daroganwr, 'prophet', and bardd brud 'brud-poet', of which more below.
Canu = sing (which tense?) but in the sense of to "sing poetry" ie. incant/chant etc? just as "canaid" = sings and chant/teach/incant in various compouds in Old Ir?
Verbal noun. Absolutely right on the irish cognate and uses. There are various compound nouns referring to types of poetry in W. with this element.
(ii) Past tense: does Welsh have things like s and t preterites in the past tense or had those fallen away in late mediaeval times? (eg. I was wondering if welais was a past tense of "see" eg. I saw/ he saw etc?)
Yes, it is just that. the medieval welsh verbal system is is much reduced in complexity in comparison to the OIr but the same categories are there. The vast majority of preterites are historically -s preterites, with a 3rd sing ending -as, -es, or very commonly -wys, or -ws, being edged out in the MW period by -awd, ModW -odd. Some verbs have a t-preterite, which often manifests as a -th ('aeth' 'he went', doeth 'he came', gwnaeth 'he did/made'; or as a -t when the stem ended in an -n-: 'gwant ef' 'he pierced',  or 'Aneirin a'e cant', 'aneirin sang it' from gwanu and canu.) One verb, clywed, has a reduplicated preterite like irish ro-chechain - that's 'kigleu' he heard', < ki-klou-. MW also has tiny tiny traces of an absolute/conjunct distinction.

(
ii) prepositions: is "A" used for 'as' or 'for' or 'when' in the line "A gweled brain ar goludd" and is "ar" meaning "on" or "at" or "before"?  Also <really> is i lawr same as i lár (in the middle of/centre of/ 'in' a place) eg. "in Caer Ludd?"
'a' is the conjunction 'and', ar is 'upon'.  'i lawr' is a prepositional phrase being used as a directional adverb, 'to the ground', so 'down'. But spot on, lar and llawr are exact cognates - in OIr lar is more 'floor' that 'centre', and the W preserves the older sense.
   
(iv) mutations: in the last words - is the word Gaer simply a lenited Caer? and is so because of effect of hyd preceding it?  
Yes, quite. c--> g is welsh lenition, the mutation systems of the languages eing similar but not by any means the same.
Swrn a welais yn treisiaw,
Siwrnai drom, yn Sir Fôn draw.
Gweled yr wyf ar Galan
Gweryl yr ych, a’r gŵr i’r lan.
Cawn weled canu eilwaith,
Ceiliog yn cyfog y caith,
A gweled brain ar goludd,
A gwŷr i lawr hyd Gaer Ludd.
I saw a multitude oppressing,
a heavy journey, in yonder Anglesey.
I am seeing upon New Year's day
a something [personal name?!] of the ox, and the man [going] to the church/enclosure.
I was getting poetic vision once again,
[lit: 'I was getting a seeing of a singing a second time']
of a cockerel vomiting [?!] the [something]
and a vision of ravens feasting upon innards,
and men cast down as far as London.

Sorry Beith, I can't remember either 'caith' or 'Gweryl'! Gwilym, help!! I'm sure I've made a clust mochyn out of that.
Also, could you translate "brudwyr" and "beirdd brud" for me? I would guess that beirdd is "bard" and maybe that brudwyr describes a "caste" or grade or community of poets?eg. seer-poets?
brudwyr - men of the 'brud', the body of legend deriving from Geoffrey of Monmouth (largely) that described the Britons' Trojan Ancestry, their loss of the entirety of Britain to the Saxons, and their eventual regaining of their lost sovereignty - hence 'brud' = 'prophecy'. Beidd brud 'poets of prophecy'.

Hope that helps! Gwilym, scream if I've messed it up...
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Last edited by Megli on 29 Oct 2006, 14:38, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Beith » 28 Oct 2006, 20:29

"Fan-dabbie-dozie" as 'Wee Jimmy Krankie' used to say. Thanks v much Megli. Glad to see I was on the right track with some things. That's great. It shows I must be learning something. grin!

That lenition thingy is so beautifully confusing between Welsh and Irish - British lention = Irish nasalization. go figure!

Re: Lar...we use urlár for "floor" in modern Irish and i lár for "in the centre" (of the city...of the room) etc. and yep I guess " for lár"  for "on the floor" in Old Ir.

Brud is prophecy? nice to know! does Beirdd = 'poet' in general or a class of poets? -  in the way Fili and bard would indicate different types of poet in Irish and there being several grades in each?

Thanks a mill for your translation and clarifications. I think you must have done a great job. (I haven't heard any screams from Gwilym yet! )

Beannacht ort
Beith

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Postby Megli » 28 Oct 2006, 21:32

Hiya!

this bardd/bard and fili things is very interesting: the terminology for the poet in medieval celtic culture is interestingly varied as you know!

In irish, as far as i understand it, filid are high-status, and baird are lower status. But, if that's true, why is there the early text 'Corus Bairdne'??? where 'bairdne' seems to mean poetry in general, not just lower-status poetry. It's odd.

In welsh, there is no word equivalent to fili. Any poet is a bardd, although specific 'jobs' if you like in high medieval wales include the percerdd, and the bard teulu. The pencerdd in particular (as far as I recall) is a chief poet who has pupils (like an Irish ollamh.) In high medieval wales too there ar the clerici vagantes, y gler, wandering minstrels that the higher status poets looked down on but also drew upon. (cf. Irish cleirigh..)

In the early period, Taliesin is 'pen beirdd' 'chief of bards'. But the  vision-seer aspect of the irish fili IS present in welsh; in the Historia Brittonum, the names of some sixth century poets are recorded, one of whom is Cian 'Gueinth Guaut' = 'Gwenith Gwawd', 'wheat of song'. Now this word 'gwawd' is etymological linked to irish faith, 'prophet' and to the word '[o]vate'. In welsh, it clearly once meant 'prophecy', then 'song, poetry' and in later welsh has drifted to mean 'satire, scornful verse'.

So - it looks like at the earliest stage, both the irish and the welsh had the word 'bard/bardd' as the main word for poet, and that 'fili' is a later development; but that the prophetic overtones of the word 'fili' were not by any means unknown to the early welsh, who had the word 'gwawd.'

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Postby Beith » 28 Oct 2006, 23:19

Hi there - thanks for that! interesting about gwawd and fáith.

I'm not sure <speculating> that there was an early common use of term' bard' for poets irrespective of their grade as there seems to be so much distinction made as regards their respective class and training .i. the huge emphasis on the distinction of the filid and their arts as the highly trained superior seer-poets compared to more secular bardic poets whose training was not so extensive. I think the term bard for both types of poet is something that came into later use, when the old systems of learning changed in the middle ages The Uraichecht na Riar (translated by Liam Breatnach) gives a very full treatise on the poetic grades of filid and bard, including their learning requirements, fees, types of metrical composition etc.

Yes you're spot on - the filid are of higher caste and training than the bards. There are I think 7 grades of filid, ollamh being the master poet at the top of the tree with a requirement to know 350 tales or compositions, Brehon law - "Brithemnacht Fénechais" and "Coimgne" -history and that the filid typically would learn and know "sceoil" (tales), Senchus (lore), "Coimged" (History),  It is also proposed by various scholars that the filid were closely allied to or part of the early monastic schools and were certainly educated in latin learning (Léigend) as well as native language and art.  The Uraicecht Becc states that poetry was also a requirement of the highest order of brithem (judge)"brithem teora mbreth" (judge of the three judgements should have poetry and latin in addition to native law. (breth féni, breth filed, breth béarla báin)

I found a reference in McCone referring in turn to Eriú 13 where an article by Gwynn pg 43-4 on an old irish tract on poets states that "although knowledge of letters and metres is not required of the bards, it is required of them to perceive and recognise their proper measure by ear and nature. It is thus that free bards make their bardic poetry". Also he (mcC) states that it is likely the authors of texts such as Bretha Nemed and the Auraicept na nÉces were written by filid and that their occasional latin indicates monastic school learning. The filid (and not the Bards I believe) were required to know "thrice fifty ogams" and McManus cites the filid as the likely framers of the ogam alphabet.

so more food for thought! Essentially what McCone is saying is that the filid were monastic school trained. ie. were part of that early Christian church or involved with it, having latin - the preserve of the monastic school teaching. However I wonder how that fits with teh fact that Colm Cille in the convention of Drum Cét 6th C, defended them from their church accusers of abusing their privileges. Does that suppose they wer part of the early church or simply accepted by it? Hmmm!

Gosh - maybe we;d better open another thread on all this...we have just stomped all over Daffyd Llwyd and I managed to shift the thread from welsh to Irish albeit unwittingly (see...we paddies don't colonise, we infect! grin!)


I want to talk with you more on this - pity we can't do it over an uisce beatha or two!
Beith

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Postby Megli » 29 Oct 2006, 01:00

I could go a drink!!

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Postby Beith » 29 Oct 2006, 01:08

Right - a drink you shall have. Come to "The Pub" section..find the "Pub crawl" post by sequoia and join us have a sneaky one!

(Give you a chance to flex your bardic story-telling muscles too!)

slán is beannacht
Beith


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