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DAFYDD AP GWILYM HIS POEMS

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Dafydd ap Gwilym
HIS POEMS
!

Translated by GWYN THOMAS

UNIVERSITY OF WALES PRESS CARDIFF 2001

Gwyn Thomas, 2001

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without clearance from the University of Wales Press, 6 Gwennyth Street, Cardiff CF24 4YD. www.wales.ac.uk/press

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 0-7083-1664-6

Published with the financial support of the Arts Council of Wales

The right of Gwyn Thomas to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Cover design by Olwen Fowler Typeset at the University of Wales Press Printed by in Great Britain by Bookcraft, Midsomer Norton, Avon

Er Cof am Syr Thomas ar Fonesig Enid Parry In memory of Sir Thomas and Lady Enid Parry

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CONTENTS

Acknowledgements Introduction Welsh pronunciation: some hints Abbreviations Further reading Titles of poems translated

ix xi xxv xxvi xxvii xxxi

THE POEMS

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The translations in this book up to and including poem 154 are based on the texts in Sir Thomas Parrys Gwaith Dafydd ap Gwilym (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1952; 2nd edition 1963). Poems 155 and 156 are based on Thomas Parrys edition of the texts, published as nos. 64 and 65, as by anonymous poets, in The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1962). The Welsh text of poem 157 was published in Ann Parry Owens Gwaith Llywelyn Brydydd Hoddnant, Dafydd ap Gwilym, Hillyn ac Eraill (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, 1996), pp. 5191; the Welsh texts of poems 158 and 159 were published by R. Geraint Gruffydd in Zeitschrift fr Celtische Philologie, Band 4950 (1997), pp. 27381, and Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 23 (1992), pp. 16, respectively; poem 160 is found in Dafydd Johnstons Medieval Welsh Erotic Poetry (Tafol, Cardiff, 1991), no. 1. I am extremely grateful to Ruth Dennis-Jones, editor at the University of Wales Press, for her help and exact vigilance in the demanding task of bringing this work through its proofs to publication. Gwyn Thomas

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INTRODUCTION

For a poet who refers to himself (or a himself) more often than most Welsh poets, medieval or modern, we know surprisingly little of the events of the life of Dafydd ap Gwilym. We do not know when he was born, or when he died, although we do know in what century he lived the fourteenth: there are a number of identifiable references to events and people of that century in his work. According to Sir Thomas Parry, who produced a magisterial edition of Dafydds work in 1952, he flourished during the middle years of the century. He suggested a floruit between 1340 and 1370. More recently, Professor R. Geraint Gruffydd has suggested that he may have been born about 1315 and that he died about 1350, perhaps a victim of the plague called the Black Death. The intensity of Dafydds poems (and presumably his life) have moved some to declare that his life was short It could not but be so, according to Saunders Lewis, himself a man of passionate intensity, who died aged 92. There are references to old age in Dafydds poems and, more specifically, references to Morfudd his great love grown old (poem 139). It is possible for any poet to refer to old age without being old himself, but what about the reference to Morfudd bent with age? Some have seen the poem where this reference occurs as an imaginative truth rather than a literal one. That may be so, but it seems to me that poem 138, where Dafydd angrily protests against a Black Friars warning that all flesh will wither with age, including that of beautiful maidens, is more likely to be a young or younger mans poem about old age than poem 139. If Dafydd did grow old, old age in the fourteenth century, where a mans life expectation was about forty years, was very different from old age today. I tend to think that he died old, fourteenth-century old. According to tradition, Dafydd was born in Brogynin in the parish of Llanbadarn Fawr in Cardiganshire. There is no reason to doubt this tradition for there are many references to places and people in this locality in Dafydds poems. His father was a Gwilym Gam (the lenited form of Cam bent or crooked may refer to some disfigurement) and his mother was Ardudfyl. Both came of families of some influence and prestige (it is noticeable that one word that Dafydd consistently uses as a term of disapprobation is gwladeiddrwydd, boorishness, the opposite of

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sophistication and nobility). Dafydd could also claim poets among his ancestors. His mothers brother, Llywelyn ap Gwilym, was a poet as well as being, in 1343, the Constable of the borough of Newcastle Emlyn. The well-attested tradition and poems that state that Dafydd was buried in the precincts of the monastery of Strata Florida, in Cardiganshire, may be some warrant to surmise that he may have been educated there for a time. He certainly spent some time with his uncle, Llywelyn ap Gwilym, in Newcastle Emlyn for he composed poems to him. Indeed, he regarded him as his bardic teacher. Although Sir Thomas Parry questioned, for a while, whether it was Dafydd ap Gwilym who was the poet and friend of Ifor ap Llywelyn and his wife Nest of Gwernyclepa, in Basaleg in Morgannwg (Glamorgan) as it was then, and Monmouthshire as it is now, scholars are agreed that there is little reason to doubt this. Dafydd composed several poems that mention Bangor and Anglesey, and the inference is that he was well acquainted with that region. He mentions other places in various parts of Wales as well, and his poems show that he was no stranger to the Marches. This is not surprising for he was a wandering poet, one of the guild of professional poets in medieval Wales who travelled from court to court, mansion to mansion, or monastery to monastery composing poems for their livelihood. The fact that so many of Dafydds poems are not addressed to noblemen and ladies may suggest that he was a man of some means and that he could afford to compose on topics of his own choosing at least from time to time. Professor R. Geraint Gruffydd has suggested that it is likely that he inherited lands from his parents and that he was able to live on their rents, at least for a time (R. Geraint Gruffydd, Dafydd ap Gwilym (Gwasg Pantycelyn, Caernarfon, 1987), pp.1822). There is a possibility, too, that he may have performed his poems in taverns (see 148.1718), probably for payment. His contemporary and adversary in poetic controversy, Gruffudd Gryg composed a poem to the yew tree above Dafydds grave in Strata Florida:
The yew tree to the best of men By the wall of Ystrad Fflur and its palace/place. (GDG, p.429)

And there are other references to his being buried there. The Welsh bardic tradition of praise-poetry and elegy, and its dark aspect of satire is a continuation of a very old Celtic tradition. The Welsh tradition is supposed to begin in the second half of the sixth century AD and continues, after a fashion, to the end of the seventeenth century. It is a tradition in the strict sense of a body of learning and aspects of craft being given (Latin dare) or delivered, handed down from one

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generation of poets to the next. In the Middle Ages the professional or paid poets were a kind of guild that had a licence to wander and to present their poems in the houses of the gentry and in monasteries. There are references to other poets mostly scurrilous if they are made by professional poets whose work did not survive the selective practices of clerks until much later than Dafydds time. It has often been assumed that Dafydd may have been influenced by their kind of poetry and metres and, recently, detailed examinations of possible sources have been made. There are many other possible sources of influence as well, and they are mentioned below. It is assumed that the bardic tradition had been traumatized by the death of Llywelyn, the last prince of Wales, in 1282, and that it was beginning to re-establish itself in the fourteenth century. Trauma there may have been, and changes certainly occurred, but recent research suggests that there was no lacuna between the Poets of the Princes, from the first half of the twelfth century to near the end of the thirteenth century, and the Poets of the Gentry, from the fourteenth century until the end of the tradition some three centuries later. Like many other Poets of the Gentry, Dafydd ap Gwilym was instructed in bardic matters by teachers, by his uncle certainly, and in Anglesey by who knows? The instruction would, in all probability, have taken the form of practice in dealing with metres and cynghanedd (harmony, or chimes to use Gerard Manley Hopkinss attractive definition). It may have meant that a poet had to be able to play the harp; it certainly meant that he had to be familiar with harp music, for poems were chanted or declaimed, mainly to harp accompaniment Dafydd refers to himself singing with his ten fingernails (poem 148). Bardic instruction would have been mainly oral (though it may well be that Dafydd had perused a written bardic grammar or treatise ascribed to Einion Offeiriad Einion the Clerk and the Hendregadredd Manuscript, a compilation of poems of the Poets of the Princes). Many poems were memorized and many of them were not written for a long time after the death of their composers: this is what makes editing the work of a fourteenth-century poet like Dafydd so difficult. It means that many copies of popular poems would be made over the centuries, and many variations can occur in the text of a given poem: words can change, line order can change, lines are omitted or added, cynghanedd can be corrected or inserted. An editor has to work his way through all the extant copies of any poem, and attempt to establish the text which is most likely to have been the original. Bardic instruction would have meant practice with vocabulary, becoming acquainted with the lore and history of Wales, as well as Biblical lore and, perhaps, some kind of Classical (mainly Latin) lore the notes on the

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poems translated point out the most important specific references. Dafydds stay at his uncles courts in Dyfed would certainly have brought him into contact with a sophisticated milieu, familiar with Welsh, English and French lore and matters of the day. Cynghanedd, which had developed from being occasional or chance harmony to being a system by the fourteenth century, is now taken to be the most distinctive feature of Welsh medieval court poetry. It is what causes all translators of this verse to despair. Cynghanedd, which is the sophisticated orchestration of this poetry, cannot be translated, or when it is translated, more often than not, it sounds childish or comical, and succeeds in doing nothing but trivializing what is often superb poetry. An explanation of cynghanedd is obligatory in this kind of book. Cynghanedd depends upon three elements: (i) stresses in a line of poetry; (ii) rhyme within a line of poetry; (iii) responses of consonants within a line of poetry. The stresses in cynghanedd give the line its musical shape and govern its declamation or chanting: this is its basic principle. There are four types of cynghanedd: 1. LLUSG (literally, dragging, referring to the rhyme being dragged over the line) depends on internal rhyme in a line. A word in the line rhymes with the penultimate syllable of the multisyllabic last word of the line:
/ / / Paid th esguswawd wawdwas (Lit. Give up your song of excuses poet-lad) (GDG, poem 129, l.33)

2. CROES (literally crossing over, which refers to the response of consonants between two halves of a line). Such a line of cynghanedd divides into two halves, and the consonants of the first half respond, in the same order, to the consonants of the second half:
/ / Gyda chwi, / o gedwch, w}r
G D CH / G D CH

(Lit. With you, if you allow it, men) (GDG, poem 75, l.10)

3. TRAWS (literally, bridging, because the responses do not begin with the first consonant in the second half of the line, that is, the responses bridge over certain consonants):

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/ / Dilynais / fal dal anadl


D LN / DLN (F L)

(Lit. I followed, like holding breath) (GDG, poem 34, l.44)

4. SAIN (literally sounding). The line is divided into three parts, the end of the first rhymes with the end of the second; and there is a response of consonants between the second and third parts:
/ / / / Gwedyr loes / ar groes / y grog
GR GR

(Lit. After the agony on the hanging-cross) (GDG, poem 4, l.45)

The professional poets composed syllabic poetry, that is, various metres have lines of a certain number of syllables. In Dafydds favourite metre, the cywydd, a metre he may have instigated and certainly did more than anyone to propagate, the unit is a couplet of seven syllables; one of the lines has to end with a stressed syllable and the other with an unstressed syllable:
/ Myfi y sydd, deunydd dig, / v Leidr y serch dirgeledig. (Lit. I am, its cause of wrath,/ A thief of hidden love.) (GDG, poem 78, ll.12)

This example of a cywydd, and the requirements of cynghanedd may make it clear why this verse was called strict-metre poetry. The requirements specified may make the composition of such poetry seem like an abstruse mechanical operation: in the hands of a well-tutored and accomplished poet, this is not so. There are some, even today, who are so adept in these prosodic matters that they are able to speak in metre and cynghanedd. Whether they are poets is another matter. One or two other technical matters will have to be explained: firstly, the sangiadau (literally, step-ins) in Dafydds poetry. A sangiad is, more often than not, some kind of text-insert, which provides a comment on the main narrative of a poem, or an aside. Reading a poem by Dafydd ap Gwilym is

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an exercise in parenthetic reading. In a poor craftsmans poems sangiadau become a ready support for flagging invention and an aid to the crude construction of cynghanedd. Dafydd makes use of the sangiad (usually placed in round brackets in these translations) most often as a means of making an additional comment that reflects in some way on the main narrative, as in:
For nobility [and] pedigree (his spear is straight) And frequent, and unfailing success . . . no five Are worthy, ever, [when theyre] compared with Ifor. (6.1720)

It may be used to enrich the field of reference:


Say . . . That for a while Ive been (the Psalm of Solomon) Courting one above Caerdydd. (8.710)

Dafydd speaks of loving Ifor and mentions the Song of Solomon to prompt a memory of that love song. The sangiad may intensify emotion, here for a death:
I mourned (this betrayal was not gentle) Heavily, coldly, as the dead turns [away] . . . (20.34)

or to complicate emotion:
It is our woe, weak seed of Adam, (Surge of grace) how summers short. (24.12)

The thought of the coming of summer (as the coming of grace) and its going (compared to the loss of the paradise of Eden) are mixed in the poets mind. The sangiad can provide an ironic comment:
Im full of rage it does not stay (What ist to me!) forever, May, (23.1718)

or it can create a comic effect here indicated by dashes:

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As I was the other night Quite wretched for the third of it! Walking . . . (40.13)

It can provide a sotto voce contrast of real feeling and feigned feeling, as when Dafydd greets a magpie apparently pleasantly, whilst giving vent to his true emotion in sangiadau:
Magpie, you, your beak is black (Hells own bird, and vicious), You also have (false visitation) Your own pursuit and greater labour . . . (63.4952)

Secondly, Dafydd also uses a prosodic device which can be regarded as an extreme form of the sangiad. In Welsh, this device is called a trychiad. A literal rendering of the meaning gives us a cutting into or splitting. In a trychiad, names, or a closely connected group of words are split, and other words are inserted into the division that is created. In this work the two parts of whatever is split are indicated by bold print. The following quotations provide examples. The first is taken from a poem describing a painting of Christ and his apostles, and the poet is referring to Bartholomeus:
Bartho who rejected not Lomeus of bright [and] proper praise. (4.334)

The second quotation is taken from a poem where Dafydd names several places he had been through on journeys to visit his girlfriend. One of these places was Bwlch Meibion Dafydd:
And Id go, proud and free, to Bwlch My deep pain Meibion Dafydd. (83.1920)

A bardic instruction would have meant becoming familiar with the works of earlier poets and with their way of expressing themselves, especially as the main topics of verse were clearly defined praise, elegy and satire. Dafydd composed several poems in the traditional style of the Poets of the Princes (see poems 1, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15 for examples of praise

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and elegy, and 21 for an example of satire). It would be difficult for anyone who is not an expert on the work of Dafydd to differentiate between these poems and poems by some of the Poets of the Princes. Even in poems where Dafydds distinctive voice is to be heard there are several echoes of the epithets and images of the older poets. We shall refer to one example. In a poem addressed to Efa (Eve), daughter of Madog son of Maredudd, the poet Cynddelw (fl. 11551200) says that she is:
Cyfliw eiry gorwyn Gorwydd Epynt (The same colour as the whitest snow of Gorwydd Epynt).

Dafydd often says that the colour of one or other of the ladies he addresses is like snow:
Gorlliw eiry mn marian maes (42.2) (Hue of fine snow upon a stony meadow) . . . hoen eiry dywyn (43.3) (. . . hue of shining snow) Gwynnach nog eiry y gwanwyn (45.25) (Whiter than spring snow is she)

So, in addition to composing in strict verse forms Dafydd had also inherited and used a range of epithets and images. Add to this that he worked within perhaps a new convention of love poetry which meant that he was forever addressing girls or maids (the word bun, maid or girl, crops up a great number of times) and it is a wonder that he managed to assert any individuality at all. To Ludwig Christian Stern, in 1910, Dafydd was ein walisischer Minnesnger (a Welsh troubadour). Others have picked up this scent with relish and gone hunting in the vast literature and comments on Courtly Love. If we accept that Courtly Love first appeared in Languedoc in the eleventh century, then elements of it are found embarrassingly early from the point of view of devoted searchers for foreign influences in Welsh poetry: in some of the poems of the Poets of the Princes, for example, and even in a line or two of what may be a sixth-century heroic poem found in the collection of odes called the Gododdin. In Ode II of Sir Ifor Williamss edition of the work of the poet Aneirin (Canu Aneirin, 1938), purportedly of the sixth century AD, it is said that a particularly stalwart and savage warrior was Diffun emlaen bun breathless before a maiden. The description of another hero (Ode LXXIIA of the same edition) was:

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Dysgawr pan fai bun barn ben lit. Modest before a maiden was the head of judgement. Do we find one of the most celebrated features of Courtly Love, the dauntless hero prostrate before his lady-love, in what could be a sixth-century poem? Be that as it may, it is certain that we find many of the conventions associated with Courtly Love, and assumed to have come from the Continent, in Dafydds poetry. Other continental literary fashions are also to be found in his poetry. We may cite elements that are pervasive in the body of literature that is labelled as Courtly Love in Dafydds poetry: there is the cult of the Classical poet Ovid as the love poet par excellence; ecstatic descriptions of early summer; the house of leaves where lovers may meet in the woods; the pangs and spears of love mostly unrequited; Jaloux, the jealous husband of the poets lady; love-envoys of various kinds; and the serenade which, as in poems 89 and 145 (Under the Eaves and Loving in Winter), becomes, in Dafydds hands, a parody on sublime passion. It should be noted that several of these components are also found in the work of the Poets of the Princes. There are aspects of the attitudes of the clerici vagantes, those harddrinking, hard-loving, reckless wandering scholars, those medieval hippies, in Dafydds work as well. And some of his poems, like the one where he had a bit of a bother in a tavern when he went wenching (poem 124), suggest that he had probably heard some of those bawdy fabliaux that were in vogue in France in the Middle Ages, the spirit of which is plain to see in several of Chaucers Canterbury Tales. He was, too, as were most people in the Middle Ages, a part of the thriving ritualism and customs that are today known as folk culture, with a vivid and agriculturally strong consciousness of the changing year. Whatever we make of the variety of the influences that seem to be apparent in Dafydds work and however many submerged conventions, rigours of medieval rhetoric, European and Classical topoi that any student of the Middle Ages will find in his work, the astonishing thing is that, in spite of them all, Dafydd persuades us that he has an originality and an individuality that shines like sunlight in the midst of his contemporaries. Dafydds poetry bristles with conventions and with many bardic utterances but he is able to present not only experiences but a life, largely within the framework of literary conventions. But he surpasses conventions and literary customs and dicta, and a personality, a himself emerges out of all the generalities in his work, and girls, jealous husbands, sunlight, trees, birds, stags, snow, rain emerge from a plethora of medieval learnedness as themselves in his poems. He has managed to create a sense of contact with living things and with real emotion. He may have been steeped in literary matters but he was, above all, a man who went about with a blazing sensuousness. His poetry and all that it refers to create, in

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the words of Tony Conran, the most artfully constructed self-portraits in the history of poetry. This collection of translations begins with Dafydds religious verse. In poem 35 Dafydd denies that he was ever a monk, though he may have a tonsure. But he seems fairly well versed in Biblical matters. In his religious poems, and in other poems as well, he presents himself as a religious man and a man of pious feelings. In other poems he is, at least, anti-church and, certainly, anti-monks as in poems 1369. In these poems it is the Friars attitude to his loving women that aggravates Dafydd and makes him argue against their ascetic advice:
God is not as cruel As old men do tell; God will damn the soul of man For love of maid or woman. (137.3740)

The joy of life and the joy of love is, according to Dafydd, God-given. In poem 106, Repentance (a late poem?), he professes himself to be a poet to Morfudd, and if he has strayed in his ways he implores the Trinitys forgiveness. Given that he sees God differently from the friars, the joys that he sees in life are manifestations of Gods goodness. So the coming of May, the green of trees (and was there ever anyone who can evoke the life and the joy of trees better than Dafydd?), the life and being of creatures, and the elation of consummated love are, for Dafydd, intimations of the life force of God. It therefore follows that winter, love denied, the passing of time and the passing of this world bring intimations of something else; of death and darkness, Gods opposites. There is a profound seriousness in Dafydds attitudes and a fierce assertiveness that nothing can cancel the joy of being. In old age, with the intense feeling that Dafydd has of decaying and ending, he nevertheless asserts that memory, the fact that there was at one time joy, cannot be denied and cannot be taken away. Life is a dream, how quickly it passes by, Morfudd grows old; nevertheless, although she is now like a cold summer-dwelling, once, she was fair (139.46). Dafydd is forever talking of love (making his sexual appetite quite plain), and often (though not always seriously) of loves pain. He professes love for two women more than any others, though he is never averse to a bit of rough and tumble with any willing partner. These two are Morfudd and Dyddgu, and the more important of the two was Morfudd, although in poem 79 (534), Dafydd says that of the two he would choose Dyddgu, were she to be had. Astute commentators on Dafydds work, such as

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R. Geraint Gruffydd and Eurys Rolant (for references to some articles in Welsh by him, see poem 121, note 14), have expressed the opinion that Dafydds relationship with Morfudd is the most important influence in his poetry. Certainly she is the one who is named most often in his poems. Morfudd was the daughter of a Madog Lawgam and was descended from the family of Ynyr of the house of Nannau, not far from Dolgellau in Merioneth. She may have lived at Eithinfynydd, a farm situated not far from Llanuwchllyn in Merioneth, and there is a tradition that she was buried at Trawsfynydd, also in Merioneth. He first saw her in the cathedral at Bangor. She was a blonde with dark eyebrows. She pledged her love to Dafydd, which may have been regarded as a kind of marriage commitment. Dafydd slept with her. But at some time she married Cynfrig Cynin, who figures as the Eiddig (the stock Jealous Husband, Jaloux) in many of Dafydds poems. He was nicknamed Bwa Bach (Little Crookback, or as Dafydd Jenkins has suggested Little Bow, one licensed to manufacture short bows, as opposed to long bows), a nickname which appears as Ebowa baghan in a record of a court case of 1344. He lived in the parish of Llanbadarn. Morfudd sometimes seems to favour Dafydd, at other times not. Dafydd refers to his exile from her country as if he were an outlaw because of her husbands jealousy. But he did not cease to love her. Dyddgu had dark hair and was the daughter of a Ieuan son of Gruffudd son of Llywelyn of Tywyn in southern Cardiganshire. Dafydd says that people tell him she is beyond his reach. She is gentle and noble and virtuous, and is greeted as such. There were others, some of them named. It is an unnamed woman whom he chooses above all in poem 98, Choosing One of Four. There were other types as well: see, for instance, the woman with whom he bargains for her favours (poem 47). And there are bawdy, imaginative, comic poems ascribed to him, like the poem to a penis claimed as a genuine composition of Dafydds by Professor Dafydd Johnston:
To me you are a rolling-pin, and one thats most disgusting; Pouch-horn, dont you rise up, dont sway about; A Calend-gift for this worlds ladies, And nut-pole to [maids] lap holes; Contour of a ganders neck In year-old feathers sleeping . . . (160.914)

He may well have been one of the lads, at least on occasion, but it is surprising how often he portrays himself as unsuccessful in love and in his escapades, though he does this often to raise laughter laughter which

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seems, at times, to hide real disappointments. In short, Dafydd experiences the joy of love, its disappointments and pains, and knows of lust and bawdiness and the comedy and the bitterness of a mans relations with women. Dafydds powerful seriousness, already referred to, does not mean that he cannot be lighthearted and merry and full of joie de vivre. Indeed these characteristics have always been more apparent to readers of his work than anything else. For him, to be in a wood, especially with a willing lover, in May is a kind of paradise. It gives him a glimpse of the vanished Eden, and it is a sign of Gods grace.
O God, in my life will there ever be for me Such a day (a glorious sunlit day With my vivacious woman) as today? (133.524)

In poem 63, The Magpie Gives her Counsel, he begins with his familiar refrain of being sick for the love of a maid here we see the convention of the love-sick poet in all its might. Then he begins to look about him: it is a sweet April day, the world is alive, birds are busy, and he has great difficulty in being appropriately sad (But broken-hearted and remembering [his lovesickness]) as he sees trees in their new clothes, and shoots of vine, and dew. Ah joy! Then, of course, the magpie interrupts his delightful and exuberant observations. Like other Welsh poets, Dafydd uses a technique called dyfalu (guessing, not unlike kenning) which allows a free play of the imagination. Even as late as the 1940s, a version of dyfalu was still extant in childrens word-games. One would ask a question like, What can go while standing still?, and others would try to guess. If they were imaginative, or had heard the question before, they would answer, A clock or A road. The essence of dyfalu is the presentation of the familiar in an unfamiliar way that brings about a shock of recognition. It is a way of fusing the discrete into unison. Of all poets, Dafydd is the master of startling fusions. Often the fusion brings about a colourful and joyous relationship between the world of nature and the world of people, and creatures (and trees) often take on the aspects of men and women. Look at Dafydds summer, at the elegance and joy he evokes with the coming of the knight of May to conquer winter and its dismalness (poems 23, 24, 27). But note, too, that it is almost impossible for him, in the midst of his green world, not to think that winter will come. The joy of life is a passing joy. It is this knowledge of the transcience of our lives, lodged deep within him, that brings with his absolute mastery of language the passion and the intensity to his work.

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It is a wish to try to share this light of lifes brief candle which he expressed so powerfully that makes people attempt to translate Dafydds poems. In translating him, all one can hope for is that the English versions of his work may give to the reader who has no Welsh some inkling of his genius. In this translation I have tried to be as accurate as possible (though knowingly not capturing many of the ambiguities), but without being honour-bound to be accurate to the extent of awkwardness. If one is too much tied down by literalness, one is dealing only with one level of the text, and a slavish closeness can sometimes lead to a serious misrepresentation of the poets genius. I have tried to set all lines to some kind of rhythm, some lilt though, on occasion, it is very difficult to do so, and it is not always possible without straying too far from the sense of the text. Words or phrases in parentheses (shown as square brackets to differentiate them from the sangiadau), are my insertions occasionally to try and make the meaning of the text, as I understand it, clear; or, more usually, to help the rhythm of the translation. Alternative translations could be offered in various poems; some but by no means all of these have been indicated in the notes. I have not made any attempt to keep to the syllables of the original, and have not attempted to rhyme lines as in the original, although I have attempted to use some of Dafydds techniques some rhymes, some alliteration, some suggestions of cynghanedd, some sangiadau (the text-inserts, previously mentioned), some trychiadau (breaks or inserts into closely related words, also previously mentioned) where these seemed to me to promote a richer impression of the poets work. By means of the punctuation I have also endeavoured to make the text, with its many sangiadau, as clear as I possibly could. To me, the differences between the Welsh and English languages make any attempt to translate Dafydd (many of whose lines are extremely difficult to interpret, mainly because of the contamination of transcription) into syllabic, rhymed verse impossible if one aims to be sufficiently faithful to the sense of the text. I can only admire enthusiastically the attempts of those who have managed to produce splendid versions of some of the poems within such confinements whilst still retaining much of the feeling of the original texts (see Further Reading, pp. xxviixxviii). Probably the most important and the most obvious point of all is that poetry, especially the kind of poetry that we have here, is meaning and feeling orchestrated. Any effort to present Dafydds work through even the darkest of glasses cannot ignore this orchestration. Any translator of Dafydds poetry has, in all humility, to thank all who have been working and are working to elucidate his poems, and to salute gratefully all translators who have gone before him. He would be, as Dylan Thomas said in another context, a damn fool if he didnt.

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WELSH PRONUNCIATION: SOME HINTS


For those unfamiliar with Welsh pronunciation, it is recommended that they consult the sections on pronunciation that are included in most Welsh grammars and dictionaries. I have endeavoured here to provide some guidance which, however limited, may be of help to some readers. The stress in most Welsh words of more than one syllable falls on the penultimate syllable. Examples: Bas-AL-eg; Bro-GYN-in; DAF-ydd. c: ch: d: dd: f: ff: g: ll: r: s: u: y: always as in the English cat. Example: Caer. as in the Scottish word loch, or as in the name of the composer Bach. Examples: Gwalchmai, Dl Goch. as in the English word dead. Example: Dyfed as th in the English the or that, not as in thin or think. Example: Dafydd. as v in the English vale, not as f in father. Example: Morfudd. as f in the English father. Example: Fflur. always as in the English go. Example: Gwynedd. as in no English word; a voiceless blown l. The l following the tt in kettle gives an inexact hint. Examples: Llanbadarn, Llywelyn. a rolled r. always as in the English sea or sound, never as English z. generally as i in English, although there are regional differences; can be long or short. Examples: Morfudd (short), Nudd (long). either (1) as for Welsh u above, usually when in the final, or only, syllable of a word. Examples: Gwilym (short), Gryg (long). or (2) as u in the English fun or uh. Examples: Nant-y-glo, Dyfed.

Some names
Dafydd ap Gwilym: DAV-ith ap GWIL-im Dyddgu: DUTH-gee Dyfed: DOVE-ed Fflur: FLEER Gruffudd Gryg: GRIF-ith GREEG Gwynedd: GWIN-eth Ifor: EE-vor Is Aeron: Eess AYE-ron Ll}r: LLEER Mn: MOURN Morfudd: MOR-vith Rhydderch: RHUTH-erch awdl: OWD-l cywydd: KUH-with englyn: ENG-lin

ABBREVIATIONS
c. cf. fl. GDG l. ll. lit. W. circa, about confer, compare floruit, flourished Thomas Parry, Gwaith Dafydd ap Gwilym (University of Wales Press, 1952; 2nd edition 1963; 3rd edition 1979) line lines literally Welsh

FURTHER READING
Translations/Adaptations Bromwich, Rachel, Dafydd ap Gwilym: A Selection of Poems (Llandysul, 1982; revised edition 1993). Clancy, J. P., Medieval Welsh Lyrics (London, 1965). Conran, Tony, Welsh Verse (Bridgend, 1986). Green, Martin Burgess, Homage to Dafydd ap Gwilym (Lampeter, 1993). Heseltine, Nigel, Twenty-five Poems by Dafydd ap Gwilym (Dublin, 1944; rep. Banbury, 1968). Humphries, Rolfe, Nine Thorny Thickets, Selected Poems by Dafydd ap Gwilym (The Kent State University Press, 1969). Johnston, Diarmud and Jean-Claude Lozachmeur, Dafydd ap Gwilym: un barde galloise du XIVeme sicle (Griefswald, 1994). Johnston, Dafydd, Medieval Welsh Erotic Poetry (Cardiff, 1991). Jones, Gwyn, The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English (Oxford, 1977). Lewes, Evelyn, Life and Poems of Dafydd ab Gwilym (London, David Nutt, 1914); some translations from unedited texts. Loomis, Richard Morgan, Dafydd ap Gwilym: The Poems (Binghampton, New York, 1982). Williams, Gwyn, The Burning Tree (London, 1956).

Books and Articles Most of the important material on Dafydd ap Gwilym has been published in Welsh. I have decided against including this substantial material here, but would refer readers who may be interested not only to the bibliographies in the works listed in both sections of Further Reading but also to Llyfryddiaeth Llenyddiaeth Gymraeg, Vol. 1, ed. Thomas Parry and Merfyn Morgan (Cardiff, 1976). Bromwich, Rachel, Tradition and Innovation in the Poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym (Cardiff, 1967). , Dafydd ap Gwilym (Cardiff, 1974). , Dafydd ap Gwilym, in A. O. H. Jarman and Gwilym Rees Hughes (eds.), A Guide to Welsh Literature 1282c.1550 (Cardiff, 1979, revised by Dafydd Johnston 1997), 95125. , Aspects of the Poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym (Cardiff, 1986). , Dafydd ap Gwilym, in Welsh and Breton Studies in Memory of Th. M. Th. Chotzen (Utrecht, 1995). Chotzen, Theodor Max, Rcherches sur la posie de Dafydd ab Gwilym (Amsterdam, 1927). Edwards, Huw M., Dafydd ap Gwilym: Influences and Analogues (Oxford, 1996). Fulton, Helen, Dafydd ap Gwilym and the European Context (Cardiff, 1989). , Dafydd ap Gwilym: Apocrypha (Llandysul, 1996). Gruffydd, R. Geraint, Dafydd ap Gwilym: an outline biography in C. J. Byrne et al. (eds.), Celtic Languages and Celtic Peoples (Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1992), 42542.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Gruffydd, R. Geraint, A glimpse of medieval court procedure in a poem by Dafydd ap Gwilym in C. Richmond and I. Harvey (eds.), Recognitions: Essays Presented to Edmund Fryde (Aberystwyth, 1996), 16578. , Love by toponymy: Dafydd ap Gwilym and place-names, Nomina, 19 (1996) 2942. , Englynion to a Mill attributed to Dafydd ap Gwilym, Zeitschrift fr Celtische Philologie, Band 4950 (1997), 2738. , The early court poetry of south-west Wales, Studia Celtica, 14/15 (197880), 95105. Huws, Daniel, The transmission of a Welsh classic: Dafydd ap Gwilym in C. Richmond and I. Harvey (eds.), Recognitions: Essays Presented to Edmund Fryde (Aberystwyth, 1996), 179202. , Medieval Welsh Manuscripts (Cardiff, 2000). Johnston, David, The serenade and the image of the house in the poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 5 (Summer 1983), 119. Lewis, Saunders, Dafydd ap Gwilym in A. R Jones and Gwyn Thomas (eds.), Presenting Saunders Lewis (Cardiff, 1973), 15963. Matonis, A. T. E., Some rhetorical topics in the early Cywyddwyr, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, 27, No. 1 (November 1978), 4772. Morgan, G., The landscape of Dafydd ap Gwilym in R. H. F. Hofman et al. (eds.) Welsh and Breton Studies in Memory of Th. M. TH. Chotzen (Utrecht, 1995), 2735. Parry, Thomas, A History of Welsh Literature, trans. H. I. Bell (Oxford, 1962). , Dafydd ap Gwilym, Yorkshire Celtic Studies, 5 (194952), 1931. , Dafydd ap Gwilym in A. J. Roderick (ed.), Wales through the Ages: from the Earliest Times to 1485 (Aberystwyth, 1959; repr. Llandybe, 1965), 16875. Rowlands, Eurys I., Poems of the Cywyddwyr (Dublin, 1976). Sims-Williams, Patrick, Dafydd ap Gwilym and Celtic literature in Boris Ford (ed.), Medieval Literature: The European Inheritance, Vol. 1, Part Two (Harmondsworth, 1983), 30117. Stephens, Meic and Gwilym Rees Hughes (eds.), Poetry Wales: Special Dafydd ap Gwilym Number, 8, No. 4 (Spring 1973). Stern, L. C., Davydd ab Gwilym, ein walisischer Minnesnger, Zeitschrift fr Celtische Philologie, 7 (1910), 1265. Surridge, Marie E., Romance and Anglo-Saxon elements in the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym in Proceedings of the First North American Congress of Celtic Studies (Ottowa, 1988), 53143. Thomas, Gwyn, The Caerwys Eisteddfodau (Cardiff, 1968). Williams, Glanmor, The Welsh Church from Conquest to Reformation (Cardiff, 1962).

THE POEMS
!

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

To Jesus Christ Stanzas on the Mass The Goodness of the Trinity Pictures of Christ and His Apostles An Ode to Ifor Hael Verses Addressed to Ifor Hael A Poem to Ifor Hael Basaleg Thanking Ifor for a Pair of Gloves Taking Leave of Ifor Hael Elegy for Ifor and Nest In Praise of Llywelyn ap Gwilym Elegy for Llywelyn ap Gwilym To Ieuan Llwyd of Genaur Glyn To Hywel ap Goronwy, Dean of Bangor Elegy for Angharad Elegy for Rhydderch Elegy for Gruffudd ab Adda Elegy for Madog Benfras Elegy for Gruffudd Gryg A Satire on Rhys Meigen The Fox May Summer The Nightingale The Owl In Praise of Summer The Cock-thrush (A) The Holly Grove The Fowler Madogs Birch Chaplet A Garland of Peacock Feathers The Poet Being Honest Paying a Debt Denying he had been a Monk Despondency Loving a Lady The Lady Goldsmith The Dream A Sign An Unyielding Lady Morfudd like the Sun

1 3 5 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 29 31 33 36 38 40 42 45 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 77 78 80 82 84 85 87

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84

Morfudds Pledge A Girls Head-dress Dyddgu Loves like a Hare Bargaining The Girls of Llanbadarn A Girls Make-up Playing Nuts in my Hand His Loves Pre-eminence Seeking Reconciliation Morfudds Arms The Poet States his Case Rebuttal A Maids Accomplishments The Girl from Eithinfynydd A Girl Taunts him for his Cowardice The Birch Hat Wayward Love The Woodcock (A) The Haycock The Magpie Gives her Counsel The Window The Briar The Clock The Star The Mist May and January A Moonlit Night The Wave on the River Dyfi Better to Seek than to Keep Morfudds Hair Secret Love To Wish Jaloux Drowned Against Putting Ones Trust in the World Suspicious Mind Hidden Love Morfudd and Dyddgu Jalouxs Three Porters Spoiling the Girls Complexion Begging for his Life Journeys for Love A Girls Charm

90 92 94 96 99 101 103 105 108 110 112 114 116 117 119 120 122 124 126 128 129 132 134 136 138 140 142 144 146 148 150 152 154 156 158 159 161 163 165 167 169 171

THE POEMS

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85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126

Disappointment The Oath Loves Husbandry The Girl from Is Aeron Under the Eaves The Pain of Love Ice Longings Pedigree Rejected Love Appealing to Dwynwen Loves Tears Weariness Forget Me Not Choosing One of Four A Girls Pilgrimage Shooting the Girl A Churlish Girl The Poets Affliction Farewell The Foster-son The Looking-glass Repentance Denial The Heart The Sigh Indifference The Spear The Greeting Love-envoy to a Nun The Skylark The Woodcock (B) The Roebuck The Wind The Gull To Invite Dyddgu A Girl and a Bird The House of Leaves Mass in the Grove The Cock-thrush (B) Bother in a Tavern The Rattle-bag The Goose-shack

174 176 177 179 180 182 183 185 187 189 191 193 195 196 198 200 201 203 204 206 208 210 211 212 214 215 217 219 220 221 223 225 227 229 231 233 235 237 239 241 244 246

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146

The Peat Pool Insulting his Servant Dawn The Echo Yesterday Carousing A Kiss (A) Newborough Seizing a Girl A Grey Friars Counsel The Poet and the Grey Friar The Black Friars Counsel Morfudd Grown Old A Fortress against Envy His Shadow The Song The Sword The Ruin Loving in Winter Waiting in Vain The Bardic Dispute Between Dafydd ap Gwilym and Gruffudd Gryg Gruffudds First Cywydd Dafydds First Cywydd Gruffudds Second Cywydd Dafydds Second Cywydd Gruffudds Third Cywydd Dafydds Third Cywydd Gruffudds Fourth Cywydd Dafydds Fourth Cywydd Poems added to the Canon as found in GDG A Song to the Stars Snow To the Rood at Carmarthen To a Mill A Kiss (B) To his Pecker

248 250 253 255 257 259 260 262 264 266 267 270 272 274 276 278 280 282 284 287

147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154

288 290 293 295 297 300 302 305

155 156 157 158 159 160

307 310 312 315 316 317

TO JESUS CHRIST
1

Of great age are you, [Lord] Jesus, Spirit of the glorious God, You [once] suffered a great penance A weapon wound, [and] savage stretching of your arms Upon a wooden cross for the Five Ages of the world. The world, it heard about your provident begetting Of a thin-browed maid, whod known no man; [And] after you were, Deus, born it was early That they called Thee from that place, Domine, Dominus. Three kings of honour, solace and magnificence Came to that kingdom, [all] judicious men; They brought three gifts, to give them bounteously By Thy might and Mary gold, frankincense, [and] myrrh. True Father, Son of goodly grace, and Spirit, True leader of salvation, and a radiant dawn! Woe is me, God in Three, is it not arrogance for man To betray Thy honour, so virtuous a wonder? Judas folly, it was such lack of wit in him To yield Thee up to strangers: a payment passing understanding. Excess, an act that was gratuitous, and terror for no end Was it to wrench your limbs, [O] worthy Lord. To sit in judgement was Pilate placed above Thee, A vagabond, son of one begging for his bread. About you, without shame, came Jews with fulsome lips, [All] thieves of great deceit. Nine went to bind Thee, in Thy mighty sanctity To buy [our] penance [there] on that pine wood. With your cruel bonds so grievous [and] so tight The weeping Mary, she cried out aloud. [And] yet, despite the Cross, the end was gracious, You came forth from the grave, as Matthew says. When we may see your blessed Passion for us, How can we not ponder on your redeeming suffering? Your feet full of blood, your mind [yet] not malicious, Your hands, [my] God, that for me were wounded; Marks of death upon your comely brow, Pain from the lance, and lips becoming pale.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Thereafter, for your deep, infected wounding A myriad ought to call Thee Sanctus. For your Passion, [your] hard purpose was not Your coming, [O] God suffering, good for us? Afterwards your death was not, for any, evil; For Joseph, it was good you lived, O Jesus.

40

The Five Ages were: from the Creation to Noah; Noah to Abraham; Abraham to Moses; Moses to David; David to Christ. 38 myriad: lit., a hundred.

STANZAS ON THE MASS

STANZAS ON THE MASS

Anima Christi, sanctifica me. Illustrious, compassionate spirit, Three and One, The glory of prophets, Fair soul of the comely-cross Christi, Like a jewel within me, oh cleanse me. Corpus Christi, salva me. Body of Christ, so sad for vaunting sin, [That is], if sought, communion flesh That nurtures wholesome, pure spirit; As youre alive, keep me alive. Sanguis Christi, inebria me. Blood of Christ lest I, for what is in me, Shall grievously be set apart and lost, Arise, Gods radiant glory, And from the sin of sottishness preserve me. Aqua lateris Christi, lava me. Water of the side of Christs undaunted dolorous wound, Cross-joyous defender, Sacred heart, without forsaking, Resolutely cleanse life, cleanse me. Passio Christi, comforta me. Passion of heavens Christ, lord of the worlds prophets, Your five wounds were harsh, A prayer of great vigour [and] good talent: Great goodman, fortify me. O bone Iesu, exaudi me. Merciful, gracious Jesus, move towards me, Answer of light; Dawn of all altars of greatest esteem, Listen to me and dont denounce me.
1

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Et ne permittas me separari a te. And, thou my life, set me (with grace increasing) Near to you, worlds virtue; Like a tree, providing goodly strength, Without stint is the glory Ill give thee. Et cum angelis tuis laudem te. With thy host, Lord of true power, of angels, In the light that never will be lost, In heaven it shall be proclaimed How near is salvation, [and Lord] let that be true! Amen. Let it be true that well be brought to heavens fair kingdom With obedient homage, A land which nurtures high [and] lasting grace, A feast [where there will be] no vanity.

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This series of englynion is a meditation on the eucharistic sequence, Anima Christi. Each englyn is a metric version in Welsh of the Latin line above it. The meaning of the Latin is as follows: Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, intoxicate me (seemingly misinterpreted by Dafydd as keep me from the sin of drunkenness); Water from Christs side, cleanse me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; And do not permit me to be separated from Thee; So that with your angels I give you praise; Amen.

THE GOODNESS OF THE TRINITY

THE GOODNESS OF THE TRINITY


1

Good was the Trinity which made, without privation, A heaven and earth for us. Good was the Father, above all, to give Us Anna, chaste of countenance. Good was Anna of righteous growth, For bearing Mary, a maid of true perfection. Good was Mary, chaste of intercession, For bearing Christ to lay waste the devil. Good was the Lord God, in unfailing joy, That with His cross did bring Five Ages from their pain. Well may the Son of Mary (whose word is recognized) Bring us, all men, to heaven.

12

10 Five Ages, see 1.4.

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

PICTURES OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES


1

Well was it made, in proper fashion, The breast of the Son of God above who rules us. One like the dawn has been presented bravely, In a new painting upon shining wood To show in His gold ambience All of the twelve and the [Lords] Passion. Its full of grace, set on a cross On which the Lord God suffered, Together with the Trinity (in loving order) Whose grace is one with Jesus. Well were Jesus, holy God, and His disciples made with expert craft, A great increase, [and] blameless growth, The thirteen: is not the painting fair? The holy Lord God is in the centre, A gentle image; well does He merit praise. And [then] the twelve, fair joyful band, About [Lord] Jesus have been linked. Six in each of the two halves, All come about the Lord [and] God. On his right part (the gentle Lord [And] charitable God) Is Peter, who well knows how to pose, And John of great [and] splendid muse; And Philip of best-rushing grace (His feet are white), and goodly Andrew; James successful, dear, [and] bountiful [and] good And Saint Simon (gifts easily [dispensed]). In gold colour, on the other side Of the wise, proficient Lord Is Paul, comely, good [and] wise, And Thomas, amiable [and] elegant; Bartho who rejected not Lomeus of bright [and] proper praise; In rich colour, holy Matthew, And James too, above reproach; Saint Jude, in incense fair [and] lively: There they are, well strung together.

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PICTURES OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES

Theyre full of grace, far-famed for wisdom, Where theyve been placed in honest colour. Think well upon the wise, fair story About the day when [all] the twelve Could walk the world (a fair abode) With him before [the] suffering. After the agony that he bore Upon the cross-beam of the rood, his retching, And his dying too (it was not vain) From the world unto the grave, When God Jesus rose again (Our true kin from black earth) He brought to his side, no need for fearing, The honourable twelve.

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48

52

This cywydd is a comment on a painting, on wood, that Dafydd saw in a church. As Paul is mentioned, it is clear that the painting was not one of Christ and his twelve original disciples. On Jesuss right hand are Peter, John, Philip, Andrew, James (the Greater?), and Simon (called the Canaanite); and on his left hand are Paul, Thomas, Bartholomew (or Bartholomeus), Matthew, James (the Less?), and Jude, who may be Judas Iscariot or much more probably, the brother of James the Less.

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

AN ODE TO IFOR HAEL


1

Well does a wheel run (uneven terrain) downwards, Or well a gull along a channel; Twice as well does your praise run (I am untiring), Ifor, lord of favour and reward. The seas helpful weavings good, and its long wetting Of the rope that holds a pirate ship at anchor; Better do I weave to thee tongues song, Ifor, [our] most valorous door. I wish to thee, [my] lucky lord, an easy life, And a loving blessing; An armys equal, steel-armed door, Terror of the mighty, mighty Ifor! The tempestuous sea-tide swells not a layer on a stone ([You are] to Arthurs pride, or Hectors A fair response, proverbial door) As your praise swells, [my] Ifor. Glorious Lord, might of the throng of worlds four corners, And Lord from that court of heavens bright choir, May He be on earth and sea a support (The Lord of heaven) to [thee, the] mighty Ifor. A merchant, a mender of treasure and of praise, The shame of Norman riches, the rudiment of praise; Hewer of war-weapon upon a stewards court, [and] Angle-woe, The blessing (he has roved the seas) of Mary be on Ifor. Of the mighty nature of splendid Hercules, in purple cape [and] shining armour, And the most-accomplished open-handed Nudd. A ship at anchor is beautiful and sturdy: It is not sparingly that goodly Ifors been endowed. There is no place can be without him long; May I not be without him, a ready-handed lord. There wont be any giver thats better or thats higher, No one has been as high as Ifor, ever.

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AN ODE TO IFOR HAEL

Splendid offspring (a liberal and unstinting gift of mead) [And] brilliant kinsman of Llywelyn, [a warrior] in white helmet. Today there is no forthright, white-browed lord [Whos] equal ([this is] a rigorous claim), to the most accomplished Ifor. 36 It is an easy day for me when he gives [his] willing [and] revealing counsel, An easy night with peace at hand [with] the lively lord. Theres easy banter at [his] table, and every day a welcome; The life, the mind of Ifors humble brother-in-the-faith is easy. 40 To praise hims easy, like [praising] Hector hurtling splendidly to battle, Easily, with sturdy breastplate, he scatters those skilled like Deira warriors. I sailed forth and with a vigorous surge received The unstinting feasting of the bountiful, beautiful Ifor.

44

Hes a great door to fair, praiseworthy poets, with shield adorned, The glorious harrower of the battle of the Severn border. Noah was long-lived; steadfast shield-youth, May Ifors life an elegant sojourn be longer. 48

The poems addressed to Ifor ap Llywelyn and his wife Nest were probably composed when Dafydd was staying at Ifors court, Gwernyclepa near Basaleg, in south-east Wales, in the old region of Morgannwg (Glamorgan). It was Dafydd who called Ifor Hael (generous), an epithet which became closely associated with his name. 14 Arthur is King Arthur. Hector is the great Classical hero. 25 Hercules, another Classical hero. 26 Nudd: renowned in medieval Welsh literature for his generosity. 34 Llywelyn was Ifors father. 42 Deira warriors: the men of the old Angle kingdom of Deira, Northumbria. It is an old title for the enemy from the time of the earliest Welsh poetry, supposedly of the sixth century.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

VERSES ADDRESSED TO IFOR HAEL


1

For liberality [hes] my lord, my Nudd, my golden fortress, And my golden stag; for profit, bounteous; Its sad, [it is] the slavish sorts distress No one is worthy compared with lord Ifor. For bravery [with] bustling sword, [for] very clear speaking, And skill to make an army ebb, For great, [and for] flowing attack, my golden fortress, No two are worthy compared with the resolute Ifor. For wisdom, no Normans nearer to him Than France is near to Manaw, For casting from him any idle argument No three are worthy compared with Ifor yonder. For obedience, faith, generosity and fortune, And love of his poet, No four, spear-wielding liberal [lords], are worthy Compared with Ifor, of Ovids eloquence. For nobility [and] pedigree (his spear is straight) And frequent, unfailing success, Of hawks of prominent nobility, no five Are worthy, ever, [when theyre] compared with Ifor. For might, my strong man, tough of wrists, handsome, Golden, bearing irons [all] covered with gold, An Ovid in battle wholl challenge the mighty: No six are worthy compared with vigorous Ifor. For comeliness, most generous, honoured, stalwart leader, Lord of the audacious sort (I am his poet), for deep scheming, no seven Are worthy compared with magnificent Ifor. For noble office, poet maker, The soul of poets and their shelter, [For] wrath in battle to defeat any traitor, No eight are worthy compared with that warrior, Ifor.

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VERSES ADDRESSED TO IFOR HAEL

11

For the best feats I love in any man (I deem him eagle-like), For countless gifts most [easily bestowed], No nine are worthy compared with lord Ifor. For splendour (my lord is like Fulke for mettle, [Hes] a wall supporting Morgannwg), For felling any man whose intent is to waste, No ten are worthy compared with tall Ifor.

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1 Nudd: renowned in medieval Welsh literature for his generosity. 10 Manaw: either the Isle of Man or, more probably, the sub-region of the old kingdom of Gododdin, in Scotland. Stirling was an important centre in Manaw. 16 Ovid: (43 BCAD 18), the Classical Latin poet, and author of such works as the Amores and Ars Amatoria. He is usually associated with love, but also (see l.23) regarded as a warrior. He was a favourite poet of the Middle Ages, and Dafydd regards Ovidian poetry as love poetry. 37 Sir Fulke Fitz Warine: one of several of this name in the Welsh Marches. In medieval Welsh literature he was regarded as a hero.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

A POEM TO IFOR HAEL


1

Ifor, a golden one among fair stewardships Is mine, an admirable nurturing; I am [my] eloquent and mighty leader The steward of your wealth, great is your favour. How brave, considerate you are, A store to me, how good a man you are. I paid to you a song with lively tongue: You gave me bragget, glistening and black. You gave me treasure, a sort of loving gesture, I give you the prime name of Rhydderch. Armed warrior, weapons do not curb you, Friend and poets bondman. A mighty lord, of a fine line of mighty [men], The poets slave, a wealthy leader. You are the mightiest and most valiant Man to follow, [youre] no weakling. Your lineage was refined and good; By God who holds dominion, youre two times more Obedient to your poet (host-leader, Wise of mind and far from shame) than one hand to the other. I go from my land, of a lords stature, With your praise, and come again, [my] Ifor. From my language is created, No mean word, the truth about you. From my own mouth, chief lord of hosts, Eightscore assemblies praise you. As far away as man may travel, As far as turns the orbit of daring summer sun, As far afield as wheat is sown, As far as falls the fair [and] sparkling dew, As far as clear eyesight sees (Thats far!), and as far as ear can hear, As far as any Welsh is heard, And far as fair seeds grow, Fair Ifor of the liveliest kind of custom (Long is your sword), your praise[s] will be sown.

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A POEM TO IFOR HAEL

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bragget: a drink, ale. Rhydderch. One of the legendary generous kings of Welsh tradition. lord: lit., dawn. falls: lit., wets. far: lit., strong. any Welsh is heard: lit., the Welsh language reaches.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

BASALEG
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Young man, go (adore the favoured green, The pleasant, lovely world) above green birches; From Morgannwg bring Good day To Gwynedd (the ways laid out with mead), Where Im well loved (the worlds a shining joy!); Take greetings with you to the land of Mn. Say (from my land Ive not been let; God knows youre not to blame) That for a while Ive been (the Psalm of Solomon) Courting one above Caerdydd. My luck is not perverse or sorry I dont love a slender smooth-lipped maid: Great love for Ifors overwhelmed me, Its more than love for any mistress. I have praised this love of Ifor Not like the love of any Saxon fool; And Ill not go (most perfect lord) From Ifors love, if he should ask, Not for one day to any wicked towns Or one night from Morgannwg. Hes a man of a line of splendid lords, Of worthy folk, gold-helmeted, most kind; A wealthy hawk of high renown, Firm of body on a steed; Battle-victor, refined [and] swift and urgent, A falcon, all-comprehending, excellent and wise; Undying stag, cant bear Deirans, All men have found him very true; His conversations good and humble, All are worthless save for handsome Ifor. A great honour came to me: If I live, I am allowed To hunt with hounds, and drink With Ifor (no lords more generous than he) And shoot at great, straight-running stags, And cast hawks to the sky and wind, And [hear] songs sung melodiously,

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BASALEG

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And [have] solace at Basaleg. Before a crowd, is it not pleasant (It is what poets aim for) to shoot at clear targets, And play at chess and play backgammon On equal terms with this strong man? If any one, by civilized agreement, Should win against another, most refined (Fluently with song I shall reward him), It is I who will win against Ifor. No one is kind and no one is brave If one can find his equal: is he not a king? Ill not leave his court, wise lord, No one is humble but Ifor.

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3 Morgannwg: the old region of Morgannwg/Glamorgan. 6 Mn: Anglesey. 9 Psalm of Solomon: Dafydd associates his love for Ifor with this book about love in the Old Testament. 10 Caerdydd: Cardiff. 21 a line of splendid lords: lit., fairest-dawn lineage. 27 Deirans: men of Deira, see 5.42. 41 ffristiol, tolbwrdd: board-games, not unlike the modern ones named.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

THANKING IFOR FOR A PAIR OF GLOVES Ifor was extravagant with gold, [and] from his court No finger would go without gold. Yesterday, I was at dinner in his court From his hand receiving wine. With my tongue I, song-weaver, swear An oath, in the way the day does turn, O best wife as far as Ceri: Your husband is the best of men. Whilst he willingly endeavoured, It was with praise he did endeavour. The day I came from his court With his gloves and double-treasure, Ifor lent his gloves [and lent them] to a poet, A poet who received them; White [and] thick [and] lovely gloves, And in each glove a treasure. In one of the pair of two, Was gold (it is a sign for the right hand), And in the other (praise of thousands!) There was silver [and they were] my reward. All the maidens ask me To lend to them my gloves; Although she asks, no maid will have No more than any man my gloves. I shall not give, Ill keep it well, The gift of Ifor, fluent speaker. Ill not wear any wrinkled gloves Of sheepskin to crumple up my finger; I shall wear (dont want his wrath) The stag-skin of thattractive man. Feast-day gloves on my two hands The rain wont wet them often! I give him (I know his favour Fluent giving of the hall of Rheged) Taliesin (wine-providing)s blessing, Everlasting, thats not boasting! At table top in time for food,
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THANKING IFOR FOR A PAIR OF GLOVES

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May he be there upon his hearth, Where I spin out part of a greeting: A place for brave men, [and] chaste maids, A place where dwells nobility In feasts, in luxuries, gentility, In lovely women, [and] in offspring, In hawks, in hounds, in wine, In free scarlet, of exceeding beauty, In molten gold, [and] in good words. Theres no wood [there] in the Wennallt Which is not green of head and hair, And its branches woven closely, Its gown and garments all one grove. For a prime poet is it not pleasing To see such lively, lovely thronging? A fair lordship [and] fair dukedom Are based inside Basaleg. At his home, gloves was I given, Not like a Saxons Saxon gloves; Gloves, a lords true Calend-gift, Ifors gloves are pleasant wealth; [Theyre the] gloves of Dafydds lord, Ifor Hael, what greater one would give them? My blessing, [pure]-winnowed, Will come home to Ifor Hael.

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Ceri: a place in Powys. The meaning of the second half of this line is not clear. fluent speaker: lit., of fluent speech. Rheged: an old British kingdom in the north of Britain. The most famous kings of Rheged were Urien and his son Owain. Taliesin was a court poet in Rheged in the sixth century. He became the subject of an extremely popular medieval tale, in which he figured as a wonder child. He was known as the Poet par excellence, a magician, a prophet and a lover. the Wennallt: there is a woody hill called Craig y Wennallt (Wennallt Rock) not far from where Ifors home stood. It is not far from Risca. Calend-gift: a gift given on the first day of the year. Dafydds lord: the lord of Dafydd ap Gwilym. Lit., Will come to the court of Ifor Hael.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

10

TAKING LEAVE OF IFOR HAEL


1

Obedient, with lovers intent, Fair Ifor, royal lord, Im going as Id wish To Gwynedd, [and] its hard! A man does not depart (well known [for] giving double) Who may come back again. Without you I could not be Two months by the banks of Dyfi. The brave, round heart, [my] lord, Will not arise (farewell, Ifor!) Nor the eye of one wet-cheeked [in] worthy land, Nor hand nor thumb where youll not be. Ive no great power here, It was not wise nor well presumed For one who loved nine Draughts of wine to leave you. You are my lord and mightiest man, Farewell, bright tower, [and one] of purest line. An easy passage for you, Rhydderchs equal, [With] a way of knowing love, Wrath for warfare, a full kind of caring, And peace, Ifor bright of blessing. Your good words are widely loved, Great fair lord of land and sea. Lord of birch-trees, heavens of concord In paradise and present world, praises pillar, I would have what gift Id want (Im wealthy and Im eminent) Of good words, of silver, Of rich gold (as any hundred know), Of clothes (no reprehending), Of magnificent French arms (Sustaining cost), of mead and wine, Of jewels: like Taliesin! Exploits of strength! King of the world! You, Ifor, father of [all] revelry,

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TAKING LEAVE OF IFOR HAEL

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Famed in taverns, [and] fine-living judge, The [very] face of kindness, gave them.

8 Dyfi: a river not far from Brogynin, near Aberystwyth, where Dafydd was raised. 19 Rhydderch: a generous king, see 7.10. 34 Taliesin: considered to be one of the earliest Welsh poets. He was well rewarded by various sixth-century kings; see also 9.35.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

11

ELEGY FOR IFOR AND NEST


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Bungling old age and longing, and pain, And penance like the point of an arrow! Ifors death its no distinction! The death of Nest, [all] Wales is worse. It is, after foster-father, worse; at the choirs end There is a narrow door between us; The death of Nest (my harp-songs a sea!) Heavens maiden; [and] Ifor [too] quite dead. Ifor, with his straight body, was best (our lord, Laying on biers the men of Deira) Of those that have been, of a well-loved line, Those who are, and who will ever be. From my nest Ill never go because of that longing a poet Who has walked the world is suffering; My two arms wont play awhile; Ill not have [and] I dont have an easy life. An easy time arouses the hearts raging, Longing in this breast, and old age. Because of weeping rain (feat of a bright bath!) For Ifor and for Nest, streams are fuller, fuller. Bountiful, [all-]seeing Lord, an attack makes me despondent: Nest, a treasure, can not (wicked word) be seen. Its [like] a leaders grasping, or pains trepidations ([She of] the joy of summers lovely hue, wild waters surface) To see the bounty of saints love [thats given] as reward, And the prudent loved one they sustained. Nest fair, refined, wine-wise [and] white-of-teeth and Ifor, With more than more did they pay me. At feast-time, with bright wine in a glass they pampered me, With mead in horns they further favoured me. Every hour theyd give me jewels and red gold, [And] with great hawks theyd honour me. Long blessings to the two, gently did they go together To shelter, [two] in secret, in their retreats. These two are one who would not hinder me from payment, At one theyd be in giving [me] abundant restitution.

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ELEGY FOR IFOR AND NEST

21

Fort-breaking leaders, in battle not feeble: In a tournament hed face up to nine thousand! At the fair court of Basaleg they gave [all] a welcome, And its floor of gold colour was a great place for carousing, 40 Where there would be talking, wine vessels free-flowing, And a beaming cup-bearer and many thin brows. Blade-shattering, Angle-scattring in the good way of Ll}r Newly-bathed, and a battle-bruising [and] multi-privileged lion. 44 Pillar of a host, [and] widely loved, with rich kin in the realm; May the Lord guide [them] to heavens sleep in old age!

7 harp-song: lit., harp-string. 10 Men of Deira, an Angle kingdom, see 5.42. Lines 11 and 12 are reminiscent of lines by Taliesin addressed to Urien: . . . you are the best there is./ Of those that have been and will be, you have no equal [lit. competitor], translated from Ifor Williams (ed.), Canu Taliesin (Cardiff, 1960), III.201. 35 The concept of the two as one is found in this line as in others in its immediate context. 43 Ll}r: a legendary Welsh hero, supposed to be, originally, a Celtic god. In Geoffrey of Monmouths History of the Kings of Britain (Book II.12), one of the first things that happens when he visits his daughter, Cordelia, in France is that a bath is prepared for him. Ll}r is the basis for Shakespeares King Lear.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

12

IN PRAISE OF LLYWELYN AP GWILYM


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The grammar book of Dyfed! Theres a summons To wine-cellars in Llywelyns land, A haven, let all mens greetings go To Emlyn, a warm court-place for many. Theres a lake for a park in Emlyn, a canal As far as Teifi, and taverns in all places. Let him deter dishonour, [and] let him kill his foe: Where a hammer blow may be, let there be a pathway to gentility. A pathway to gentility, a great bolt battering the mighty, A clear provocation to England and Pictland; Wherever he may be, the whole world draws (A giving hand) near to the name of Llywelyn. Llywelyn must have for me might and vigour, The joyful son of Gwilym, a splendid [and] powerful king. A place where he checked vexation to vex me, [a place] with no restraining, He exercised dominion, and made much of me. He laboured, he embellished to sustain the great, A court on the poets hill, a place for all who are fair. A place where it is customary to find fine clothes and shelter, A place thats never closed, [a place] of constant welcome. A place thats used to wine, to serving drinking-horns, A lively place, a tavern-pathway, where the Teifi bubbles. A sweet, sparkling place of marvellous beauty, Where the worlds guests make merry without ever ceasing. A spacious place, full of the work of filling drinking-horns; Where theres compliant, pungent wine for getting drunk. Where by thy might, O glorious God, Ill go again
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Where theres wine from France, [and] benches [and] furniture covered with silk, A place of full chambers, [all] filled with gold vessels. A leisurely court by many carpenters made proud, A court coloured, lime-covered, lantern-burning. 32 Most full, [most] unblemished, of courteous goodness, Where the ready provision of the bountiful land is diligently praised.

IN PRAISE OF LLYWELYN AP GWILYM

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A tractable land, [and] loved by Gwri of the Golden Hair, Llywelyn, the mighty, will rule it. 36 A ruler, an emperor of marshals as far as [the land] of Elfed, Hes Dyfeds leader, taming many. A tribes pillar, his line extends as far as Gwyli, Benign, [and] just, [indeed, hes] like Pryderi. 40 A radiant hand giving gold to guests, splintering spears, Wrath of Pyll with a thrice-shattered weapon, the [full] smite of Rhodri! Mighty-spear, the spear of Beli in battle, In temper a lively-mighty Ll}r, of lion valour. 44 A joyful treasure, and our cauldron, who makes for us a thriving life, He has given us joy in our time. Llywelyn, whos eager to shatter a spear; Mens valour and their virtue. 48 Llywelyn, fervent to shatter a battle-battalion, The owner of red gold his good hand knows [just] how to give! Promote [and] dont diminish [him], Three-in-One, henceforth, Promote [full] prowess in him; God support him!

The Llywelyn ap Gwilym praised in this poem, and mourned in the next one, was the poets uncle, his mothers brother. He was an influential nobleman, mainly associated with Emlyn (Newcastle Emlyn) in Dyfed, south-west Wales, where he was Constable. 1 grammar book, W. Llyfr dwned: lit., the book of Donatus, the grammarian. The poets referred to their grammar books by the name dwned, a form evolved from Donatus. 6 Teifi: a river in Dyfed. 7 him: Llywelyn ap Gwilym. 10 Pictland: the far north of Scotland. 28 Part of the text is missing here. 35 Gwri of the Golden Hair (Gwallt Euryn), a name for the lord of Dyfed in the tales known as the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. His other name, and his official name, was Pryderi, see l.40. 36 will rule it: lit., will go over it. 37 Elfed: a commote that bordered on Emlyn. 39 Gwyli: now Gwili, a river on the border of Emlyn. 40 Pryderi: see l.35. 42 Pyll: one of the sons of Llywarch Hen (the Old). He appears in stanzas that belonged to sagas located in the Old North (north of England and southern Scotland) and in Powys, in north-east Wales. 42 Rhodri: Rhodri Mawr (the Great), king of Gwynedd (d. 877). 43 Beli: Beli Mawr (the Great), one of the legendary ancestors of the Welsh. 44 Ll}r, a legendary ancestor of the Welsh, see also 11.43. 45 cauldron: here pair is a reference to the Cauldron of Plenty found in Welsh legends, rather than a form of the verb peri.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

13

ELEGY FOR LLYWELYN AP GWILYM


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Dyfeds hope is broken, her boasting taken away, On account of the eagle of the land of magic; Yesterday, a good day, he could speak, (Most gifted was he): [but he is] dumb today. Before this, Llywelyn, wealth of the land, Youd not close your house against me; You were the strong lord of song, [Ah], dumb man, open up to me. Fair of face, prudent father of prime land, stout author Of prophetic words, proud, daring [and] upright, The best for good songs, try to speak, Poet, orator, dont you stay dumb. My fine leader is lifeless, Deiras pursuer; why (The flowing of tears persists), My prop, would you leave me, My friend giving gold, my stag [now] dumb? Nobleman, lord of the land of enchantment down below, Faultlessly would you instruct me; Every mastery you knew it, Ive been in pain since youve been dumb. My tears flow freely, my crys not been low For my bold [and] mighty leader; Im not without woe that you wont answer, Its not easy to talk to the dumb. Lord of true heaven and earth, this is an exiles moan It was hard you could not hear it; Lord of all wealth, woe is me, Wretched my plight for a man who is dumb. Woe is me that he (like Clud for gaining praise for him it did not cease) [Now] cannot speak, For a while I know woe because of sorrow, Theres a shrieking of cursing for a man who is dumb.

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ELEGY FOR LLYWELYN AP GWILYM

25

Woe is me, Christ the Lord, its hard for me for my presumption, (Have I not been punished too greatly?) Fair were we before the loss, The fall of the treasure of all the worlds feats. 36 Woe is me, Christ the Lord (my heart is broken; For profound loss I am [now] pensive; Splendid of arms, receiving [all] from around), For the fall of the lord of every achievement. Woe is me, my lord, set in your providence, God! A mighty [and] song-loving hawk has been taken, [Now] a feast-day is no blessing, [and] sorrow flows [so] easily, [Im] not free to protest for [my] friend. Woe is me that [he] the privileged, acknowledged Rule of the people has, like phantom reeds, been taken. The succour of a host: death of multitudes! He was mens joy [and] exultation. Woe is me that I have seen (evil licence) The halls of a warrior, fair towers, (Lifes calamity!) one of them damaged, And the other, with broken roof, an empty house. Woe for the nephew, left behind, growing cold to see (The depth of memory awakes me) The many-coloured court, above, collapsing, And Llystyn court [now] empty. Court of wine and horses, [and] of honest wealth, Woe for the loss of he who made it. Court of a golden lord, prosperity of many, A lord of goodness were he alive; it was a court for everyone. To be bold, to be rash is of little gain, it is fleeting, And the whole world is, in its shape, like a wheel: A proud lion of great learning, With blue steel the pillar of praise has been slain. A knight of lion aspect, Llywelyn, because you have been slain In your fair court in Emlyn,

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Many men who remain faint of heart after you Say that skill with book and harps diminished. Flowing tears are my lot [though] not in any bitter way, Woe that with a bartered knife (Many anguished sighs in public) A fair king dazzling wrists could be killed! For the taking of Llywelyn, a wise man, I sigh; His kingdom [also] sighs; Freely I sigh on the following day; I sigh every day: his day has come. Woe, woe, Dl Goch, that a rite, in reverence, is held For your beloved master; Woe after two despondent woes, Woe, is this not woe? Who is there whos not weeping? I wept where I saw my lords bedchamber, Was that wound not deep? A word in answer Im your kinsman Open your house, [O] good, wise man. It was a man, [and] not a boy, who was slain by the pain of [cold] steels wounding, Ill-fated was that grievous loss; One valiant for his right[s] in a shattered helmet! Cold tidings of the best of men! Tavern walls are sorry heaps, [and all] tongues work is painful, Meditation is now worse; Strong buckle: heart empty; After the lord of song, [all] men are weak.

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The world that was in England and [in] Wales Will be blind, in the way of the wicked, for the taking of an eye; God above, fetch to your feast (youll not deny me) The door of men, a noble lord. 96 This is a proverb, in [this] land let it be seen as truth: He who kills, he shall be killed.

ELEGY FOR LLYWELYN AP GWILYM

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The outcome of this, it is thought, Is endless woe; and God, let that be true!

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He who makes a pit, who [brings] woe to the South and want Will suffer savage vengeance; He who does evil with a mindless Turn of hand, let him await another [turn]! 104 The enemy who causes grief Is not (a hard, strong payment) free of care: He who with his shining steel may strike a man To end a life, will [in his turn] be slain.

108

This is a sorry subject a grievous blow for a golden youth To proclaim a great outrage, To assert fairly the full honour (He will hear trumpets!), a lament for a leader, for he has been killed. He was righteousness, the harmony of golden hosts, The wisdom of song-making, The tuning string of integrity, The pillar of praise, no one is as courteous! Refined kings successor, fleur (golden line) de lis Saving a Paris bell-house; A valiant Welshman has [now] left us: Ones been taken, Wales is lower. If my uncles dead (Arabian gold of splendid Wales), It is a mighty wonder Ive not become (the nephew worried for him) [Or] that I shall become deranged, God my lord!

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After a liberal lord it is bad and harsh; [After] a wine-cellar, crowd-director, [it is] hard on poets; Of splendid instinct, the kind for all-round giving. The worlds congenial feats are forever fallen!

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Let the low and let the bright who love to come together Go to Llandudoch tonight; Wisdom has gone there: A true treasure, under sand [and] gravel. A true flower, fare-provider, with two cheeks Undimmed has ended; Iron has taken entirely (wine-captive disposition) Worlds memory and judgement.

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Llywelyn was (the song is true) a prudent man, Before earth was laid about him. High point of warfare: no retreating! The high king of wide Dyfed was he.

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This elegy was composed after the killing of Llywelyn, some time in the late 1340s. There are references in it to the destruction of his courts, of which he had three, Llystyn (l.56), y Ddl Goch (l.77) and Cryngae. See poem 12, general note. 3 good day: lit., good time. 13 Deira: the title of an old Angle kingdom in the north-east of England, see 5.42. 29 Clud: there is a reference to Gwawl son of Clud in the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. 44 to protest: against God who has taken his uncle. 50 fair towers: lit., a fair tower. The whole stanza refers to the destruction of Llywelyns houses. 64 blue steel: lit., blue weapon. 66 Emlyn: Newcastle Emlyn in Dyfed, south-east Wales, where Llywelyn was Constable. 117 The references in this line and the next one are obscure. fleur-de-lis: French for lily. 126 hard on poets: lit., a tax on poets. 130 Llandudoch (St Dogmaels), Pembs., an old home of the family.

TO IEUAN LLWYD OF GENAUR GLYN

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TO IEUAN LLWYD OF GENAUR GLYN


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Its May, bird-poets of the shore are splendid, Woods are [full] of little shoots, wood-weaving, Intricate bird-singing is sharp and persistent, It is I who gilded it, it is what I long for. [And] since I may not have (provision of bright joy) New gifts in Mn and sustenance, There is a need of feasting, the worlds [most] bounteous service: I have no loved one, my hearts sad. There are benches, tables, poets presents, There is a family whose welcome is pleasant, Loves service, holy God, I have not had it; This great yearnings worse than for a maidens greeting. Neither do I see Ieuan, [a man] of faultless breeding, Nor does he, lord of men, see me; Ill go (a dearest union) to him: Im not bold without him whose provision is fearless. Im wild whilst I may see sufficiency of youth: Wines service has in me turned bitter; Afterwards (it will make me hard) a heritage of uproar, fear, Public weeping [and] song-making. The place where he is is a strong enclosure, I shall proclaim it, A [place where there is] play of power, true courtly love, A strong, a prosperous land where tavern-keeping (longed-for) thrives, Of gleaming forest shoots: a splendid land! Most notably Ill see his sovereignty, A hawk of Llawddens line, hawks of hunting; Hes poets saviour, liquors nurture, lordMusic-maker who loved the sound of music. [And] in my time as guest Ill be a lazy lad The golden lords a constant host! In springtime, winter, harvest-time and courteous summerTime Ill be as tied to splendid feasting!

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Well does the leader keep a goodly custody, He wishes well to me, through custom made me bold; Steel-chased is the door of combat on the land of the seas frail shore, Moreover hes a door undaunted: Deira pays him homage! 36 Theres no flaw in supplication to the lively chieftain; All say he gives provisions without fault; He sustains a coming, garments, potency In Huails ways [and] plentiful provision.

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A lustrous, gracious lordship, Unstinting no other man has the same valour; With no fault, a splendid door, bold, savage, [and] of valorous intent, [He is] a blameless golden lord, [and one] of deep nobility. 44 Mens glorious terror-weapon, a Ll}r in martial-prowess, He took away (good guardianship) my fear; To me my foster-father is a doublet, a force of obligation, A double breastplate, the very top of admiration.

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The patron addressed in this poem is Ieuan Llwyd son of Ieuan son of Rhys son of Llawdden (see l.26). The familys home was Morfa Bychan, by the sea about three miles south of Aberystwyth. He is also associated with Genaur Glyn, also in Cardiganshire. 6 19 22 36 40 Mn: Anglesey. The text has treftadogaeth, but the variant tres tadogaeth has been accepted here. courtly love: the word in Welsh is ofyddiaeth, lit., Ovids art; see 6.16. Deira: the old Angle kingdom in Northumbria, see 5.42. Huail: a legendary hero, obviously highly regarded for his generosity and skill as a warrior. 45 Ll}r: a legendary ancestor of the Welsh, see also 12.44.

TO HYWEL AP GORONWY, DEAN OF BANGOR

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TO HYWEL AP GORONWY, DEAN OF BANGOR


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Lord of clergy, same office as Mordyrn And Dewi in the Land of Magic, A Cybi, [he] of heavenly wealth, Companions of Simon [and] Jude. Saint Jude in like wise was he refined Of the kindred of Gwinau Dau Freuddwyd; Saint Silin, frankincense of hearth, Psalm of Saint Elien was he, holy churchman. A holy lord, a prophet of the line of Brn, Theres one man in Bangor in an ermine gown, [In] a chalk-coloured, foam-coloured house; a fine organ [in it] (The chancels chord), flawlessly he plays it. My tongue sings a wheaten song (No bent ruler will be found beside one in straight shape), It wont conceal from the lively, loving Hywel, The poetical way, purely endowed [and] clear.

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Ive found a supporter (not oppressive; one who penetrates oppression!) Who wont let me be hounded a Welsh favour, this; No nine [men] will solicit him, the wise one, [no nine] will venture Yonder if theres proof the prelate lord is angry. 20 He will have in Gwynedd sparkling [and] sharp-tasting mead, He, noble lord, will love him who illumines him: The manly praise that reaches the Mn of the poets Will not be brief, [most] poetical Dean! The friendly, noble mans not base, Of firm word [and] shapely hand, he is a poet; This is no agd, cracked opinion in a mind: there is no world Without the bardic aspect of the man of Gwynedd! There is no lord alive beneath the star[s whos] like my lord, Of glorious-lineage, manly, valiant gift of an heroic age! A bold, proud, lively, bright-eyed hawk which ranges [over] fields Is not the same thing as the chick of any wren.

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The clear uttrance of a wandering poets not the same As the way, in being amorous, of a man whos in a hurry; The boyish status of a boy is not the same [as that] of elders; Wheat harvested is not the same as barley thats been burnt.

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Wine from a whittled cup is not the same as mountain whey; A peacock, feather-fleeced, is not the same [thing] as a wolf; Its not like Bleddyn (a man whos not been graced with skill) That any canny lad will sing a song with the sparkle of Cynddelw. 40 No gentle Welshman (and this is truly startling) knows How to give to suitors in the way of Rhydderch Prudently, discreetly except Hywel, learnd canon, Lord of Mn, a brilliant, lordly Dean.

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Hywel, praised in this poem, was a dean of the cathedral in Bangor, north Wales. It is clear from the poem that he had some connection with Mn (Anglesey) and that he took a special interest in poetic art. 1 Mordyrn: a revered man of the church. 2 Dewi: Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. the Land of Magic, or Enchantment: Dyfed, in south-west Wales. 3 Cybi: a Welsh saint of the sixth century associated with Anglesey. 4 Simon, Jude: two apostles. 5 refined: I have translated the Welsh ffiniwyd (verb-noun ffinio), as to refine, make pure rather than to border on. 6 Gwinau Dau Freuddwyd: lit., the Auburn One of Two Dreams; he was the great-grandfather of Saint Llywelyn of Welshpool, in Powys. 7 Saint Silin: this may be a Welsh form of Saint Giles, a hermit saint, popular in western Europe in the Middle Ages. 8 Saint Elien: the forms Elian and Eilian also appear. A saint with associations with Anglesey. 9 The Welsh llwyd, here translated as holy, can also mean grey. Brn: a legendary king of Britain, who may, originally, have been a Celtic god. In Christian times he was known as Brn the Blessed. 11 The church organ in Bangor cathedral. 14 ruler: this is a measuring ruler. 39 Bleddyn: some incompetent poet. 40 Cynddelw (fl. 11551200): called The Great Poet, one of the most eminent of the Poets of the Welsh Princes. 42 Rhydderch: a king noted for his generosity.

ELEGY FOR ANGHARAD

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16

ELEGY FOR ANGHARAD


1

Tears unremitting, long [and] lasting from my eyes Because of how sad to mes the memory Of the laying under earth Of the lively, dark-browed, kind Angharad. Its sad that she is not alive, with [her] horns of mellow wine; It is the downfall of [all] inspired poets! The warrant and true basis of giving wealth for praise Feasts came flowing from her lively hand. Many say that she served wine; she was the light, She was fair Indeg before the day of frailty; Apart from Gods heaven (home of a life of peace) Life is bewitching for many. For her, many hearts in Pennardd will break, Like Esyllt, she was good [and] fine [and] lovely; For many, like the poet grieving, (Outright woe!) there is no playing [and] no laughing. The poet, well-served, loyal, does not laugh (Fierce anguish), for Angharads gone; She (nature of a foaming flood), wont leave my heart Ive been betrayed, my cry is wretched. Too wretched (a flagrant abducting) was the need (Dusky-cheeked, with proud, [dark] blackberry eyes, A girl [who was] maidenly, she shared wealth) To fasten oak between her cheeks and us. I am a young man, thin, pale-faced and ailing for The lovely girl, a golden candle in [her] splendour, [And ailing] that her end did come (Chaste, generous girl) and with it brought deep weeping. Angharad, fair-of-form, was most giving [and] most pleasing [And], in any citadel, she was of all women the best; Of passionate vivacity, good learning, there was not (A sun in heaven) one who was her equal.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Whose day-long-lifes as brief as was my golden girls? Tears, profuse [and] flowing worry me; With the lapsing round of fostering, [and] prudence sad [and] short, Suns glorious niece, what heart is there that does not break? 36 Heart-worry, a seizure afflicts me, It pounced upon me with her leaving. Bright lady with her elders [now], of the seed of long nobility! She, of modest bearing, curbed [all] empty speaking. Belovd of the Golden Lord: Lord God, I chide Thee On account of [her], Angharad, For your demand that she (who was always wise) be taken, Too sad [and] suddenly, by gross earths treachery. How fully did you unstintingly bestow a talent (Won [so] justly) [on] the one in golden splendour! You forced upon her day-long-life too harsh a passing: Her kindred know it, Ah God the Father! Kin of war-proud hawks, golden-virtued, resolute, Great-granddaughter to Cynfrig, the pillar [and] the top of battle. Of the joy and hue of glorious Eigr, Uthrs only love: Too wildly, in one rush were we plundered.

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Black-browed maid, splendid, slender, its sad shes not alive; Woe to Eigrs kin, only lord of the wine-flowing fort. Bright hue of the breast of a lively waves flight upon a lovely shore; Her foster-brothers know the sorrow of that moment. 56 The strength of the splendour of a gold-giving youth, Of [most] womanly loveliness, moon of [all] women! Wife of a graceful-speared battle-champion, Ieuan with spear fire-sharp, [Ieuan] the router of battle. A lord with spear blood-glutted, lands bond and [its] possessor, Praise-acquirer, a pious, [most] generous lord, successful sustainer; Enemy-confronter, warrior-companion, Spear-strong, wine-loving oak [and] lord of pleasant[est] song[s]. Suddenly was I by sorrow wounded (it is called chastisement) For the fresh look of the long [and] snow-light lily;

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35

A splendid bee who knew her talent, The gossamer of Cardigan: her taking was harsh. After lamenting the life-taking Im a singer whos heartbroken For the look of a snow-cover on grass, dawn of fortunate Buellt. Fair, excellent girl, a liberal giver at [any] carousal, Wine-board and treasure, blessd-poets provider.

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Memory of her strikes anguish through me, and lays me in a siege, Alas, fair gem of diadem, for my eye[s]! The face (bitter hurt!), tear-shower[s] wet it, My cheeks grey and wrinkled with lamenting of great pain. 76 Lamenting for her is bitter to me, Ive not had on my side (The prop of a true court) any gown of scarlet. A bad time for the sight is long vigil in captivity: Its worse (longings anguish) [for me] to remember Angharad.

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Angharad was a descendant of Cynfrig from Buellt (or Buallt) in mid-west Wales. Her fathers name was Rhisiart. Her husbands name was Ieuan Llwyd; both he and his father swore an oath of allegiance to the Black Prince in 1343. The Rhydderch whose name is associated with the famous medieval Welsh manuscript known as The White Book of Rhydderch was the son of Ieuan and Angharad. 10 Indeg: famous in the Middle Ages as a woman of extraordinary beauty. 13 Pennardd: a commote in Cardiganshire where Angharad lived. 14 Esyllt: the legendary love of the Welsh Trystan. In European literature they became Tristan and Iseult. 51 Eigr: a woman celebrated for her beauty; according to Geoffrey of Monmouth she was the wife of Gorlois, Earl of Cornwall, and the mother of King Arthur. Uthr: Uthr Bendragon (Chief Dragon or Leader) was probably regarded as the father of King Arthur even before the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth. 545 The text is uncertain and the lines very difficult. 70 Buellt (or Buallt): a region in south Wales. The Builth in Builth Wells is an attempt to represent it. 79 bad time: the Welsh gwaith, here translated as time can also mean work.

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17

ELEGY FOR RHYDDERCH

(Composed on behalf of Llywelyn Fychan of Glyn Aeron) Yesterday I, on a high hill, heard Three sighs, and I sought refuge. I did not think (I know a myriad sighs) A man could ever utter such a sigh. In my land there never (generous giver) was A torrent of lamenting, huntsmans yelling, Sounding of long horn[s] above a brushwood hillside Or bell louder than that sighing. What noise is this? A sighing of anxiety, A blaze of pain. Who gave this sigh? Llywelyn, from thabode of love Near to his lovely court, Fychan Gave this sigh for Rhydderch, Brother-in-faith, too soon taken. Amlyns sighing from his house of woe For Emig like a foster-mothers grief! The sigh of the one who loves his friend In earnest, sigh of sorrow! And the third sigh (its like the bell Of the Glyn) was given by Llywelyn. When was clenched the mouth of Rhydderch Love was (wine-giver) hidden then Seven times over; then came an end, indeed (Ill be disarmed, I know), of the head of fair Deheubarth. Then came an end of giving lavishly of mead, Then was valour laid in earth. A dazzling [and] white swan impounded! He lies there in his grave of stone. The pain in nature! the grave (straight, Dear [and] proud), is no more than seven feet long. Its strange to think that laid to rest In this much of black earth Are manners and feelings of love, The large and splendid gift of Rhydderch, And his wise, unfailing goodness,
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And his strong body, fair, wise, pleasant, And his feats (talk of the gifts of grace!), His shining learning, his bright talent, His grace (that genial talker!), And his fame. Ah! that his day has come! Cold the sound of his sad burial: A merciful knight was he. In the simple way of love may God To Rhydderch give His mercy.

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Rhydderch, son of Ieuan Llwyd, and the Angharad lamented in poem 16, was a soldier of Glyn Aeron, in Cardiganshire, as was the Llywelyn Fychan on whose behalf the poem was commissioned. It is likely that Rhydderch was alive when this elegy was composed. 15 Amlyn: the great friend of Emig (Amig) referred to in l.16. There was a medieval tale about their friendship. 24 Deheubarth: south Wales.

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18 ELEGY FOR GRUFFUDD AB ADDA Its a great bonus (by a whitewashed wall, Where there are orchard trees, a proud array) That there should be, beneath the apple-trees, A nightingale warbling by night [and] by day; A bird whose songs long-flowing, a refined and radiant call, With nest enclosed, [just] like a chick from heaven; A call of golden song upon a comely bench, A glorious clock upon a green [and] pleasant branch. After the arrival there (where songs are sharply fashioned) Of a wild shooter, a sharp jumper Through grim havoc of betrayal to destroy With a bolt, four-pointed, birch-type, Though [that place] were full (a gift of joy) Of sweet fruit (trees proper burden) Melodic song will be because of heavy grief Without that sparkling bauble of the flowering trees.
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Powys (lively, lovely, fruitful land of shining taverns Furnished with sweet drinking-horns) Was an orchard [pleasantly] inhabited Before that wise young man was struck with a blue sword. 20 This land of hawks (woe for widowhood) Is now without songs nightingale. This [land now is a land] of hateful foes [Where] poets are churls [and] odes have no esteem. 24 If, for three months, there has been heavy grieving [Then] alas! (there never was a sigh that could not have been less) For the blow (a shout of mighty rage) Of that sharp weapon where it was not liked. 28 Gruffudd (bird of sweet[est] song) Son of Addaf, most blameless of [all] men; All honourable men would call him Lord of Mays [most] lovely branches; An organ, delighting, far-resonating; And a golden, loving nightingale; A bee with true and ready song; The land of Gwenwynwyns wise springtime.

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With steel in hand, made bold by anger It was wicked for his friend to smite him. A weapon [of one by] nature panicky inflicted On my brother a sword-blow, deep, Through the short hair of a hawk of a proud line: Woe is me, how sharp its edge! The thrice-sharp sword (was this not sad?) went through The yellow hair of this valiant, lovely man. A blow [it was] like a saw-blow, An ugly slit through that delighful pate (Im furious), just like the slit youd give a goose, In two pieces: was that not [really] rustic! Two cheeks of angel-yellow-colour, Turret of gold: the man is dead.

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Gruffudd son of Adda (Adam) was a poet. The reference to the cut on Gruffudds head being like a cut made when killing a goose tends to suggest at least to modern readers that this is not a genuine elegy. 15 17 36 48 Melodic song: lit., metrical song. Powys: a region on the border, roughly in mid-Wales. The land of Gwenwynwyn is a part of Powys. Rustic (W. adj. gwladaidd; noun gwladeiddrwydd) is, in Dafydds poetry, a term of disapprobation.

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19

ELEGY FOR MADOG BENFRAS


1

A sieve, magical [and] damaged! This world is laid out low. The young man full of joy tonight His life may be [wholly] pleasant (A terrible, sudden [and] harsh dream) Will turn out dead tomorrow. Why does a fleeting muse disturb me, A bright image, a path of solid light? [Its] on account of Madog (twin in poetic tongue) Benfras no young poet was ever better. He was brave, bold; now there wont be (Verses downfall!) any man like Madog For mastering many metres, For good verse (he was a wonder), For a wholly solemn song, for learning, For bright merriment and friendship, For love above all men, For wise repute, for wisdom. Harsh was my cry in the year of the taking Of Madog, he was my blessing. The pain is great for this teacher of men No bard-disciple can cast it away. Shining from afar, a master of wisdom, A peacock of good discourse, was he not free from guile? Battle-auger, tender-hearted, Smooth-planer of sense and of sound. [One of] a pair with Myrddins verse-song, Support of a refuge (visions of wine!) And a bell [well-]chosen by May, The trumpet of song and its horn, And a choir of passion and love, Copper lustre of song and strife in a contest, A glorious organ, magnificent toy, Paramount of the poetry of poets. Forlorn poets have no land of joy, The world will have no cywydd now. Rarely was he not worthy of fine gold,

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ELEGY FOR MADOG BENFRAS

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Destitute will be the little leaves of May, Without song [is she], the bright, pretty little nightingale; Plague proliferates, tears are lowly. Without knowing him, birch trees have no honour (He was a good one), ash trees have no hope. A prompt support, [and] muses chapel, Matched with him all else are copper, a girl has nothing. It would be boorish (hes left the lands) Were there a world [and] he not living. Woe to all bard-hosts (his bard-tongue was splendid), It is with God that he has been left.

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Madog Benfras (fl.c.132060), a poet from Marchwiail, Denbighshire. Penfras (lenited form Benfras) means large head. He also appears in poems 25 and 31. He was a friend of Dafydd; each composed an elegy to the other Welsh fourteenth-century poets composed fake elegies from time to time. 2 [A]r ei hyd in the Welsh line can been translated as in its whole length, but in common speech it means prostrate, laid low. 27 Myrddin, a legendary warrior, who became wild or mad in the Battle of Arthuret (AD 573) and spent many years roaming the Forest of Celyddon in northern Britain. He received the gift of prophecy and in the Middle Ages was known as a prophet and poet, and a great lover. He later became the Merlin of the Arthurian legend. 36 cywydd: a poem in seven-syllable lines which rhyme in couplets, see the Introduction, p. xv.

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20

ELEGY FOR GRUFFUDD GRYG


1

The taking from amongst us of a jewel, a Taliesin Of praise, was a betrayal, innate, woeful. I mourned (this betrayal was not gentle) Heavily, coldly, as the dead turns [away]. Songs ebbed away, theres no denying, All the world over: betrayal most boorish! Over my cheeks, a foolish flood, Flow tears for that most pleasant of men. By the Rood, he was the wise Gruffudd Fluent-in-songmaking Gryg. Im harassed for his verses, Set-square of praise, nightingale of the men of Mn. Ruler of all right understanding, And lawbook of suitable meaning. The standard for the good [and] wise, Refined leader [and] fountain of song, Its tuning-horn, flawless and good, Its pitch-string too: [all] noble men, Alas! Who will sing from his comely book, Poet of Goleuddydd, the colour of waters? Ever ready on his lips was inspired song, The primas and dignitas of song. No word of love is mentioned, No one sings (for sighing) song[s] Since he went (too constant sorrow) Into a grave to lie [there] mute [and] silent. No wailing poet laughs, for sorrow, There wont be any fun at all. The pretty bird who sang is [here] no more, Mays blackbird cocks no [longer] proud. Theres no increase in urging love, No nightingale sings, nor a cuckoo; And after Gruffudd Gryg there will not be A double double-singing thrush, Nor a cywydd in the fields, nor leaves, Nor songs: green leaves, farewell!

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A sorry tale for a sorrowful maid was the laying In the chancel (full of marble) of Llan-faes As much song (a jewel that belongs to us), Indeed, as was ever given. The [very] rule of lovingness is placed Inside a chest, [and] in the chancels side. A mighty payment of songs treasure No chestful will be equal, ever. A chest and oak they hide the hawk (Sad chestful) of proud and goodly singing. For yesterdays song of golden craftwork For a while well all be bound. A director, he, of gentle songs [most] true distinction: Theres a chest thats full of song! Alas, God, Exalted-Christ of bounteous treasure, Theres none [today] who may open up that chest! If any splendid shining maid would love To hear, with harp-strings, fine[st] praise; I judge that verse-craft is a widow, And that now a song is frail. The art of gracious poetry is gone As if in pawn: verse sequence[s] are sad. After Gruffudd, the most telling verse Without Ovids art grows worse and worse. A bird whose song of paradise was sweet, A bird from heavens land was he. It was from heaven he came, sweet singer, To make [his] songs to lovely trees; Inspired singer with a wine-bred muse, He, who was good, to heaven has gone.

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Gruffudd Gryg: an Anglesey poet of the second half of the fourteenth century. Cryg (lenited form Gryg) usually means hoarse but may also mean stuttering. Dafydd engaged in a poetic controversy with him (poems 147 to 154). Professor D. J. Bowen has argued that this controversy, in which Gruffudd attacks Dafydds Ovidian verse and he defends it, was an exchange that occurred early in Dafydds poetic career, and that this fake elegy shows that Gruffudd had changed his attitude to Ovidian verse, probably later on in his life. 1 Taliesin: ascribed to the sixth century, but many poems were attached to his name; see also 9.35.

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14 suitable meaning: lit., proper language. 20 Goleuddydd was the girl to whom Gruffudd addressed poems. 22 primas: a late Latin word for the highest-ranking church dignitary. Also a name applied to the chief of the Goliardi, wandering scholars and poets. His proper name was Hugh dOrlans and he was a twelfth-century poet. dignitas: Latin for worth, esteem. 35 cywydd: a poem in seven-syllable lines which rhyme in couplets, see the Introduction, p. xv. 38 Llan-faes, near Beaumaris in north Wales. The Grey Friars had a friary there. 58 verse-sequence[s]: lit., a sequence of englynion. The englyn is the name of more than one kind of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody. Now it is almost always a stanza of four lines in cynghanedd; but it can be a stanza of three lines. All the lines of an englyn rhyme. 60 Ovid: the Classical poet, highly regarded in the Middle Ages, usually associated with love; see 6.16.

A SATIRE ON RHYS MEIGEN

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A SATIRE ON RHYS MEIGEN


1

Theres a half-mad bungler, widely offensive, Whose crafts not that of Gwalchmai; Dogs of all parts would bark at him; Hed have no respect or favour. Rhys Meigen, that big-head, hed nurse indignation (That black, false man) wherever hed be; An awkward lout, a straying dog, Songs trinket, whey sediment of May. That empty, needy, bestial [man] with his tongue would boast From Teifi as far as Menai; A sluggish dwarf, no one would trust him, Hand-crooked, with no granny, [and] no nephew. [Even] where he, head red-coloured, would give money (This smacks of a confession!), hed not have love; Hed let loose a wormwood song; That jowl of an ailing ape, I wont do what he would do. Foul-mouthed, [his] stiff words had no merit That flatterer would utter them; Hed sound [off] unadulterated bawdry, That unrelenting dirty shirt of a house paste-poet. That sly [and] low-down sod, though hed try to keep In touch with the quick[est], he couldnt, A frequent racer [with] a halfpenny saddle, Hes the sum of all such faults. The sickliest [and] wantonest love-envoy to leprous ladies In the shoddi[est] armour; The odious corn beggars a shat-on dog, Leg of a rock-gull, a woman who shifts with the ebb-tide. An awkward rag, a hundred laces of corracle scale, an old [And] filthy piece of leather from his trousers [hangs]; No skill [at all] in rules of metric diction; Hed not go to war or any hard battle.

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Strapped for song, flesh-stinking hackney, stick-thwacking boy With filthy, scummy, stretched-out chops; All told, [this] false [and] nasty lad Would overthrow a hundred thousand, sloshed! Cantankerous-versed, famished-faced, brawling dog, arse-swinging, Long-wandering, belly-shaking, late-leaving; A flour-beggars skiff of slender laths, Trough [made of] tree-bark that would stand without a surplice.

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Odious man, scab-legged, clumsy, trouser-farting, crooked [and] feeble Blessed is he who would hang him; Waist of a beggar whose task, [with] worn dish, is [to find] curds, Nape of a tough tomcat sharply prying. 44 Stubborn in anger, quick of lip, hed wither to hoarseness on beer; A brisk-snorting piglet when he puked; Cloak-blemished, long pompous, a cockle-meat-beggar, Wild, hell split bolts; of the rough hue of the tide [when its] turning. 48 An outlaw, an inconstant, sharpened host, With a dirty hand that chucked; Devils shears, woe [that place] where he would come, Cowardly pourer of fly[-blown] clay water. Truly a body like any indigent, [and] not like Cai Hir the brave; Its unlikely hed stand in a battle; Hed suck the dregs of [any] grease-bag, A fool, a piece of empty grey, grey skin. A draught of dregs would be fit for the creature, A lifeless lamb, not strong in battle; Of the contemptible valour of a beggar, Rough-plumaged, no ape was ever smaller. Hed sing, to all, a scurrilous song Without knowing what that [song] might be; Sinew of a shit-house mouse, Wherever hed be (that foulest calf), hed be the worst. Rhys Meigen, a hangmans noose beneath strong trees [That] will be your ruin, you [with] old codgers fists; Angrily and fearfully do you gnash your teeth, A lard-feast wonder, tough-faced, with worm-infected soles.

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47

Ready-chops whos used to stinking mouth-heaps, Brash for grubby meat rather than for mead-horns. Youd scamper for grease and marrow of great bones from inside Meat cut open before [youd had] a drink, by Cyndyrn. 72 The whelp of one hundred girths [and] meat-spit heads a wonder, Red-arsed bell of jongleurs, glands of lime[-coloured] grease. A skulker as a soldier truly wonderful in battle! Hint of a streaking shape [and] not the like of Dinbyrn. 76 Guilty, louse-heavy, fox-face, crabbed heap, Mean-faced [and] useless, a bucket rasher [of meat]. Unpleasant easy-breeches, undignified, flesh-constipated, A shadow too-withered, skin and bones. 80 The prying of your eye is a lanternless looking, Rhys, mottled squinter, meat-chomping, a tomcat [dressed] in baby-clothing. The noise of that gaping, constipated gut guzzling the dregs of most awful crab-apples! That belly [made] fat on the filth of a roadway hes not of the kingly kind. 84 Since you dont know (you angry thruster with [your] tacky, Multiple-shat[-in] trousers) either an ode or an englyn, you leather-fisted looter, Take off, you particularly mad-frothing, bitter, roaring boy, Take off, for you its fine to swig the dregs of [all] taverns. 88

Rhys Meigen was, obviously, considered to be a prime example of an unskilled poet. There was a tradition that he fell down dead when he heard this satire on him by Dafydd. 2 Gwalchmai: (fl. 113080) an Anglesey poet, one of the earliest and most highly regarded of the Poets of the Princes. 10 Teifi: a river in Dyfed. Menai: the straits between the mainland and Anglesey in north Wales. The line means from one end of Wales to the other. 33 stick-thwacking boy: may refer to the poet or declaimer of verse who could not accompany himself with a harp. Such a performer would have indicated the rhythmic stresses in lines with the beat of his stick. 3940 The text here is uncertain. 40 May mean that he, Rhys, is like a frame on which to hang a surplice. 478 The text here is uncertain. 52 The Welsh word clr in this line has various meanings: wandering poets; inferior wandering poets; flies. I have chosen the third meaning as most appropriate in this context. 53 Cai Hir: Cai the Tall, one of King Arthurs knights.

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56 The Welsh word llai (grey) in this line could possibly be a place-name, Llai. 70 The first element in the Welsh compound word baeddgig in this line has two meanings: either it means boar; or it is an adjective from baeddu (to make dirty). The latter seems to me most appropriate in this context, hence grubby meat. 72 Cyndyrn: Saint Kentigern, associated with Glasgow and with St Asaph in north Wales. 74 jongleurs: refers to the Welsh clr, here despised poets who did not belong to the bardic guild. 76 Dinbyrn: obviously some traditional warrior hero. 86 englyn: the name of more than one kind of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody; see note on 20.58.

THE FOX

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THE FOX
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Yesterday I was, with set intent, (Alas, she doesnt see it!) beneath the trees Marking time under Ovids branches And waiting for a girl beneath those trees (By her moods, she made me weep). I could see, when I looked yonder, A monkey shape where Id not wish it A red fox (he cares not for our hounds place) Sitting, like any tame pet, On his haunches by his lair. With a yew-bow (cost a lot!) In my hands I aimed at him Intending, like a well-armed man, On the hill brow, with vigrous agitation (This is a weapon for a country chase) To hit him with a long, strong arrow. In my attempt to hit I drew Well past my cheek I groan! In three pieces my bow Broke: calamitous disaster! I went wild (this did not frighten me) With that fox (vexatious bear). Hes a bloke whod love a hen, And silly fowl, and bird-flesh; A bloke who wont follow the blare of the horns, Whose voice and carolling is harsh. Against gravel he looks ruddy, Hes like an ape in the green trees. He flashes by a fields two ends, [This] dog shape whos goose-seeking. A scarecrow-rag near a hillside, Acre-leaper, ember colour. Shape of a fair target for magpies and for crows, Shape of a dragon of prognostication. Famed for consternation, fat-hen-gnawer, His coats proverbial, his flesh glowing. A chisel for the fair earths empty belly, A lantern on a shuttered windowsill.

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A bow of copper colour, light-foot, With tong-like snout, bloodstained. For me, to chase him isnt easy His dwelling is down deep in Annwn. Red wanderer, judged most persistent: He keeps ahead of any pack which tracks him. His scurryings sharp, [this] leaper of gorse: A leopard is he with a dart up his arse!

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3 Ovid: see 6.16. The reference here is to the trees under which lovers would meet. 42 Annwn (not world): the Other World.

MAY

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MAY
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God knew it was the right time For the gentle growth of May. Fresh, unfailing reeds would grow On the first day of the gentle month of May. Unwithered treetops would detain me: Yesterday, God on High gave us this May. Poets jewel which wont cheat me, Good times came for me with May. A fine, handsome lad whod give me gifts; A free lord, open-handed thats May. He sent me authentic riches Pure, green slices of Mays rich hazels: Tree-top florins wont dismay me Fleur-de-lis wealth of the month of May. Unclipped from cheats Hed keep me Under the wings of leaf-mantled May. Im full of rage it does not stay (What ist to me!) forever, May. I groomed a girl, [and she] would greet me: A noble, gentle maid beneath Mays choir. Foster-father of fine poets, gentle lovers, Who would honour me thats May. The godson of thimmaculate Lord, A beautiful green, high is the honour of May. The one who would enrich me came To this world from heaven. My life is May! Hillsides are green, love-envoys joyful, Long is the day in the fresh woods of May. Lush green (they cant be hidden) Are the grove tops and the slopes of May. Night is short, a journey no burden, Splendid are the hawks and the blackbirds of May. Nightingales joyful wherever she fusses; [All] little birds, they twitter in May. My lively feelings teach me: There is no great glory but May.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

A green-winged manor peacock! Or what other creature? The greatest is May. Who, with leaves, could build it all In one month, apart from May? Hed build a wall, of blue and green, Of fine, fresh pieces of the hazels of May. Full of puddles (best if it failed) Is winter; most gentle is May! Spring has gone (that did not vex me): Golden, refined is the rich gold of May! Bright summers coming tramples on it; Its tears that rear it, unblemished May. Leaves of green-barked hazels would clothe me: Good times for me they come with May! Omniscient God, omnipotent, He Would ordain with Mary the coming of May.

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The Welsh word mwyn which recurs in this poem can mean either gentle or wealth. There is a play on the two meanings simultaneously in the poem, none of which can be reproduced in translation. 1315 Florins were round, but were clipped by the unscrupulous. They melted the clippings for profit. An unclipped florin is a round coin and perfect in shape. 14 Fleur-de-lis: French for lily. Was there a florin with a fleur-de-lis on it? I have failed to trace one. The lily was often used as an emblem of excellence. 37 Dafydd uses the image of a peacock for May, and then imagines to what other creature he could compare it. No image can match May.

SUMMER

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24

SUMMER
1

It is our woe, weak seed of Adam, (Surge of grace) how summers short. Ah God! truly the worst thing Lest it end is summers coming With its mildness, clearest sky, Its joyful sun with summer colour, Its languid [and] most gentle air: The worlds all delightful in summer. Out of its old, unblemished flesh The earth bears fruit in summer. Summers come to leave the trees, To grow them of the comeliest green. It makes me laugh with joy to see How fair the hair on a bright summer tree. Paradise! To this Ill sing Summers beauty: whos not laughing! Ah, summer, I shall praise it Persistently and pleasantly and whoopee! The girl I love (her pride is summer) Beneath the trees twice the white of splashing water! The amorous cuckoo, if I ask her, With rising sun will sing in summer: This blue beauty in high summer I shall tell Her, graciously, to toll her vesper bell. Under summers penthouse she, The nightingale, will boldly trill melodiously. The cockthrush (away from battles will I walk) Gurgles summers baby-talk. Ovids man can come and go his way On a long, fair, summer (bold word!) day. Jaloux hes old Adams bastard If summer wont come, he would not care! His sort have been given winter[s]; And summers the portion of lovers. And I, under birches, will have In my house of leaves only summer mantles.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Ill wear on me fine gossamer there, A lively cloak of summers fair hair. Ivy leaves Ill pull them down. No cold at all all summer long! A gentle girl, if I should woo her Its a joy to court her when its high summer. Cant make a song (that coldest omen) A ban on summers sprightly bard. The wind wont let (Ill wear my jerkin) The trees to thrive: woe, summers gone! Im left with longing (no denying) In my breast for summer sun. If autumn comes (thats winter!) And snow and ice to drive summer away, Woe me, Christ, [then] I shall ask (If sent so soon) Wheres summer?
11 14 29 31

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leave: here means to put leaves on. bright summer tree: the maypole. Ovids man: the lover or love-poet, see 6.16. Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, a stock character, husband of the girl with whom the poet is in love. 39 Ivy leaves: they are associated with winter.

THE NIGHTINGALE

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25

THE NIGHTINGALE

DAFYDD: Madog son of Gruffudd, inheritor of woods, You can make golden praise, you brilliant tool of metres, Of Mordaf and of Rhydderchs progress, The plane and sense of love, You were more true than anyone, The tuning-string of true pitch. You came along to Dafydd Ap Gwilym with a song of flowing vigour. Is all our friendship mere remembrance, And my plaint about the birch-grove? I suspect that its been stripped With no fighting, killing, burning By Jaloux (chill upon him!) With his pick (fie on his greed!) and shovel. MADOG:

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Theres no need to be so sad For any tree at all or birch, Whilst God lets be the holly; No man will burn it, no man strip it, And come bad weather of what sort ever, It wont be bare or bent or withered. You would indeed complain most soundly If what befell me (worlds consternation) Had befallen you (my livid indignation) A sign of greater fear; its my distress. There was no delight for me, No consolation (lusts disgraceful!), Nor song on goodly, lovely birch Except for a nightingale, grey [and] bright [and] pretty. Observe her if you see her Metre-weaver of the strong, bold fort. Lovingly she sings beneath the leaves, Beneath a helm of twigs a pleasant psalm. An exile, one of gentle aspiration: In a wild thicket, a delightful flute. [She is] lovers sanctus bell, Her tone is clear, sweet, melodious.

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Her noble song is eloquent On the tip of a green shoot. Loves morning-girl, a comely maid, With jet-black look above thorn-tables. Cuhelyns sister, bright-girl, small, A flute thats six times quicker (Mistress of all Maestrans organs) Than a hundred, from the treble string she sings. Since she went that grey-tailed little thief She did not leave in Gwynedd (Its plight grows worse and worse) A love envoy: it contained no better. He would, whoever who indicted her In Eutun Wood, had I my way, Be put upon a pillory: Amen [for this] forever! Whilst she wishes, she may stay In the vale; pass Christmas there. Where shell be, will be most loving; Good gittern, may God keep her!

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1 Madog son of Gruffudd: he was the poet Madog Benfras; see poems 19 and 31. 3 Mordaf, Rhydderch: two British lords of northern Britain often referred to as paragons of generosity. 13 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, a stock character of the the jealous husband. 41 Cuhelyn: a poet of the twelfth century, one of Dafydd ap Gwilyms ancestors. 43 Maestran: a town in north Wales. 50 Eutun Wood: in Maelor, north-east Wales. 56 gittern: an old musical instrument, not unlike a guitar.

THE OWL

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26

THE OWL
1

A pity that the lovely owl, Cold and sickly, wont be silent. She wont let me sing my prayer, Wont be quiet whilst there are signs of stars. I cant get (woe the forbidding) Any sleep or chance of slumber. A hunchback house of bats, Its back against sharp rain[s] and snow[s]. Each night (I am bewitched a little) In my ears (memorys pennies) When I may close (the pain is most apparent) My eyes (those lords of [great] respect) This, the owls song and owls voice, Her frequent screeching, guffawing, And her sham poetry she recites This wakes me up: I have not slept! From then (this is the way I am) Until break of day, with such wretched zest, Shell be singing, miserably howling Too-whit-too-whoo such lively gasping! With great verve by Annas grandson She urges on the dogs of night. Shes a slut, with worthless two-hoots, Large of head, perverse of call, Broad of brow, with berry-crotch, An old, wide-eyed mouse-catcher; Busy, colourless and worthless, With withered voice, and colour stained. In ten woods her screechings loud, Woe for her song (a wooden-collared roebuck), And her face (features of a gentle woman), And her shape: shes the phantom of the birds. Every bird attacks her shes dirty and shes exiled: Is it not strange that shes alive? This one chatters on a hillside more At night than does, in a wood, a nightingale. By day she will not draw (a firm belief ) Her head from a sturdy hollow tree.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Eloquently she used to howl I know her face: She is a bird of Gwyn ap Nudd. Garrulous owl that sings to thieves Bad luck to her tongue and tone! That I may scare the owl away From me, I have a song: Whilst Im waiting for a frost Ill set alight all ivies!

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78 It is extremely difficult to make any sense of these two lines. They may present an image of the owl. 21 Annas grandson: Anna was the mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus. 33 Every bird attacks her: in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, a medieval tale, a woman called Blodeuwedd is changed into an owl by a magician called Gwydion. He says to her, There will be enmity between you and all the other birds. They will feel bound to attack you whenever they come across you. 40 Gwyn ap (son of) Nudd: in the Middle Ages he was considered the king of the beings of Annwn, the Other World, who later came to be called Tylwyth Teg (the Faery Folk, or Fairies).

IN PRAISE OF SUMMER

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IN PRAISE OF SUMMER
1

You, summer, the father of boldness, Father of burgeoning, close-topped trees, Fair wood-ward, master of thick-wooded slopes, A tower for all, and a thatcher of hills; You are the Cauldron (bold word, Unblemished lord) of the Rebirth of the world; It is you (the cause of eloquence) who are The croft of all the sprouting plants, The salve of growth (the reason for a double crop), And ointment of the trysting woods. By God whos loved, your hand well knows How to sprout, on trees, fresh branches. Well loved in earths four corners: Amazingly [and] by your grace, birds grow And fair earths crops And flocks and swarms that fly, Meadows of moorland grass, [all] glassy-headed, Hives and swarms of bustling bees. You are a foster-father, highways prophet, A heap of earths store, and green-garden store. You give, grower of my pretty bower, A fine growth, a leaving-web of leaves. And it is eternal woe [to think], By night or day, how near August is And know from long, [long] failure That you, a golden store, would leave. Tell me, Summer (this is wrong!), For I can ask you, by wise Peter, Which way or to what realm, Or to what land you go? Praise-poet, be quiet with your worried singing, Be quiet, master of bold [and] magic boasting. It is my lot (a mighty omen), For, warm weather sang, I am a prince, For three months I come to grow The stuff of crops for multitudes; But when the tops of trees and leaves

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

May cease to grow, and shoots may cease to weave, To escape the winter winds I go To Annwn from this world. Take with you a hundred greetings And blessings of worlds poets. Farewell, you king of warm, good weather, Farewell, our lord and master, Farewell to all young cuckoos, Farewell to Junes fair-weather banks, Farewell to the sun on high And the plump cloud, white-bellied ball. Lord of a host, indeed you will not be So high (plain as any high cloud-drift) Until Summer (a fair, unhidden garden) Comes with his lovely hill[s] again.

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56 Cauldron . . . of Rebirth: into which dead men were thrown to be resurrected. See the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. 24 August: this month clearly signifies the end of summer. 28 wise Peter: Saint Peter, the apostle. 40 Annwn: the Other World.

THE COCK-THRUSH (A)

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THE COCK-THRUSH (A)


1

Yesterday, beneath the birches, I heard his voice, The cock-thrush, amorous-singing, Pure-toned, sound-sparkling, Bright-tongued and fair a happy, goodly talent. What thing is there that could be sweeter Trilling than his little whistling? At matins, he reads out three lessons His mantle, in our midst, is feathers. From a grove, far over lands, is heard His singing and bright shouting. Hillside prophet [and] great creator of longing, Master poet of the glens bright passion. On a hill brow for dear joy He sings all flawless voices, Every good tune in passions metre, Every air for organ, every song, Every gentle melody for maiden, Contending for best loving. Hes a preacher, reader, clerk, Quick, melodious, pure of muse. A poet of Ovids flawless song, Gentle primas of Mays highest honour. By his love-trysting birch I know him, Creator of the woodland bird-song; A joyful echo from a lovely glade Of [all] loves odes and metres. Amusing bird who sings on hazels In a pleasant wood [and] angel-winged; It would be hard even for [the] artful Birds of paradise, who love him, By dint of good recall with passion To declaim all the songs that he sang.
21 a poet of Ovids . . . song: a love poet, see 6.16. 22 primas: see 20.22

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29

THE HOLLY GROVE


1

You holly grove, right-loaded armful, You shiny-fronted fort, with coral fruit, A seemly court that man will not uproot, A snug-roofed bower, house for two. A tower where a girl will care for me; [With] prickles [and] spurs of leaves. I am a man by hillside strolling Under trees, sweet fine-haired woods; Grace will keep the comely building! Ive roamed [in] woodlands and meadowlands and leaves. Who was it that in winter found May month wearing a green livery? I recall: today I found, On a hills crest, a holly grove. For me it had the same loves seat, Same hosts, same livery as May. A sprouting wood that had an organ in it; A mighty place above a fair, green pillar. Songs pantry thats above the hollow of snows wrath, A penthouse Gods hand painted. The good God would make any fair part whatever Twice as well as liberal Robert. The generous-living Hywel Fychan, Of serious-worded song, one who knows how To choose a face, he praised ([and] with no malice) Woods angel in a lovely bed. Fair branches by the roadsides: Stout, short-cropped, green-mantled lad. A room for birds of paradise, Round mass of green [and] lovely leaves. Not like an old shack, gluttonous for rain: Two nights beneath it will be cosy! It is by chance that holly leaves Will wither, [being] edged like steel. No goat as far as Severn, nor old billy Will munch of this one mouthful. An iron muzzle, when long night[s] And ice may be in every moor and glen,

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THE HOLLY GROVE

63

The good wood will not lose its tithe; Despite the howls of spring winds, cold [and] bleak, Its faithful mantle of green leaves On a hills crest wont be divested.

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22 Robert: not known. 23 Hywel Fychan: a poet; Thomas Parry asks whether he is Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd, a twelfth-century poet-prince, or Hywel ab Einion Llygliw, a fourteenth-century poet. 35 Severn: a river which flows through parts of Wales and England. 42 wont be divested: lit., will remain attached.

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30

THE FOWLER
1

A fowler in an eastern frost Or snowdrift (fair snow shower) Sets upon the pathway (surely a weak way!), On hillsides, when theres a joyous-glorious winter moon, Coltsfoot [coated] with [sticky] honeydew (If he brings them with him and snares them at no cost), Glued twigs that will be snugly set upon The bright banks of pure springs. When a bird comes (in thrall to pain) To Mn nearby across a shore, On his freewheeling he will see The gentleness of wetlands there. If he veers he will descend, His feathers in water-lime will fold Until the hand of his attacker comes (Recall wars wrath) who soundly hunted him. This is how God, the father of divinity, Did (soundly does he smite me) with my love. Like hill snow, a lovely colour, Is the girls face: [and] I know who! The sparkling eyes of Eigr are Deep wells of green[est] tears, [They are] fair berries, worthy of praise, Of the gold work of Marys Son on high. A hundred woes (why do they worry me?) That they Gods rings arent closed! Love and radiant passion stuck (Glues fastness) in a wound between us. A bold thought (grasp of the doomed) Will not leave the gallant brow (Head of bright[est] flowers, of a playful mind, Thintoxication of deceiving eyes!) More than a bird (she is majestic) From [its] long adhesion: her colours glorified! Long-lasting love (face-ravager, Minds secret), far-reaching is your blow. Her black and slender brows, they Are the lime-twigs, wealth to be possessed;

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THE FOWLER

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Darker on a girl are the blackbird-feather-brows Than joiners plumb-line on a whitewashed fort. The favoured face of heavens idol! Wearied by minding the brow of a maid Memorys been fettered, has been shackled; A shackle of blessings been nailed into me.

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The first eight lines are extremely difficult to translate. 10 Mn: Anglesey. 21 Eigr: a woman celebrated for her beauty, see 16.51.

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31 MADOGS BIRCH CHAPLET A young girl sent home to Madog, (The one enthroned by love) Loves gear, a cover of fresh leaves, And well does he deserve it. Madog gives his thanks to God For the crown from his kind maid. Constantly he wears these trimmings of the trees He has it daily on his head. My own chaplets of the same Skilled work, [and] not of lasting gold. A mesh of birch, [and] fetter-wise it was, And a girl gave it willingly to me. The tips of twigs, entwined among the birds A weary man adores them. A thumb shaped it birch of a glade A bud and a rouser of love. Ierwerth prefers, for his verse, Something of worth to a gift made of wood. Hes a treasurer of song for silver And pure gold, as many people know. A finger wrapper he was given A lovely ring to keep his hand from rusting! The mans need was [very] small The binding of [one] whole finger of a rhymer. A slender girl, [she] made a collar (Liberal is she), she gave her gold. Two feet (that good, long-daring lad) Of good land (the words are fine) Of this same spot (loves web of pain) Will Madog, author, leave To Ierwerth, true of song, lord of a host, And to all for loving girls. If Madog with a voice adept in metres Seeks reward for his tongues verse He was bounteous and does not demand of her Gold or jewels; he, [this Madog], asks for her!
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MADOGS BIRCH CHAPLET

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And Mab y Cyriog [there] in Anglesey Seeks these for [his] harmonious verse. A great breach exists, bard of a maid, Between affluence and love. A twig chaplet, though his burden may not be In goods of any worth to him (O precious star of birches!), To me its worth a tidy sum. The kiss of an unstinting maid, God knows it, it is good to have it; For pledging it one would not gain Nor mead nor wine: lip[s] made it! An old huckstress, [she] is no more likely To buy it than to buy a reed. This gift of green birch for a lovely lad Is identical in kind. He craves gold from a noble lord: A splendid lad loves fresh, green birch. In bearing passion my brothers (Fair poets) are not all of one mind. Ierwerths a merchant of song And of praise, who sells his songs. And Madog, [whos] a well-born stag, Is the most pleasant man of Ovids tears, His song matches a nightingales in woodland: Hes my friend [and] hes a lover.

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According to this poem, Madog Benfras, the poet (see also poems 19 and 25), received a birch chaplet from his girlfriend as a sign of love. He wears it on his head. Ierwerth/Iorwerth ab y Cyriog, a poet who was a native of Anglesey and a contemporary of Dafydd, received a gold ring from his girlfriend. Dafydd reprimands him for wanting material gain, for bartering his verse, unlike Madog who sings for love. This poem may be the work of Ithael/Ithel Ddu, another fourteenth-century poet from Anglesey, rather than Dafydd ap Gwilym. 20 as many people know: lit., as a hundred know. 27 Two feet: this is, is of course, a measurement. 37 Mab y Cyriog: son of Cyriog, i.e. Ierwerth. Cyriog means blubber-lipped or wry-mouth. 44 a tidy sum: lit., a great heap. 60 tears: the Welsh word can also mean daggers; for Ovid, see 6.16. 62 [and] hes a lover: lit., he loves.

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32

A GARLAND OF PEACOCK FEATHERS


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One morning (a dawn it was to wish for) I happened to meet a maid (Love was the sole preoccupation, a proper passion), At the top of a wood [and] weaving a song. I asked my girl of my own age To braid a branch from among the trees In lovely horns, a lively crown, A garland for me, fresh and shining: If its flawless, let it be a ring of love. And the maid to her poet made this reply:
GIRL: Your voice is pure, your speech fluent, Why did you not know (a pain is it to admit) That its a shame, that its not pleasant In distant places to strip birches. On birches there are not its understood Leaves at all that may be taken. I, for my part, wont weave twigs, it is not right From the grove to take the leaves.

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She gave me (it will last long) The gift Ill in the meantime keep A garland, good as a golden drape, Peacock apparel to squeeze the head. Foremost chaplet, of very bright linen, Lovely flowers of lively fine feathers. A pretty weaving of shining branches, Gods butterflies, [and] jewel leaves. Royal craftwork, finely twirled, Stacks [and] twirls, tri-coloured. They are fireflies, are mens eyes, They are moon configurations. Good if obtained (no loss, thats certain) [These] mirrors from Virgilian fairs. I know long grace: the maid gave this, A garland to her gay-word poet. The shaping of it was a loving, shining feat; And its weaving was of wings and feathers.

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A GARLAND OF PEACOCK FEATHERS

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A girls love-gift to her gentle bard God lay on this (magnificent lists) All craftwork, rich filigree of fine[st] gold, All colours as on golden tent[s].

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8 14 15 26

Like the birch chaplet, this garland of peacock feathers is a gift signifying love. distant places: lit., worlds end. W. text nid (negative) > neud (positive) to read: its understood. Gods butterflies: there is a play on words here; in W. butterflies are glynnod byw (live embers); Dafydds gloynnau Duw (Gods embers) sound very much like butterflies. 32 Virgilian: pertaining to Virgil, the Latin poet, who was regarded as a magician in the Middle Ages.

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33

THE POET BEING HONEST


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I walked more quickly (a long fuss) Than [any] lightning eighteen miles. The tip of my foot it did not touch Last night (I am a shifter; My passions painful, my ends bad) The ground a sign of youth! Of like mind, in the fair vale, Am I to the amazing, singing Trystan. Under my foot (rash, thoughtless man) No frail twig breaks: a lively fraud. I did not turn (a foolish rule) My face back for any man. I went more quickly than wild wind To the girls court who is like Esyllt. I gave her but did not name her (A gift of yearning) this advice!
DAFYDD:

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Dont be down-hearted, girl in sendal, She whose hues unsullied snow, Because youve stayed, O gentle maid, So long in virgin sanction. Dont seek, for [all] Mays craving, A shabby man, hell ill become you. O well-born, courteous maiden, Love him who loves you, fair, wise girl.
THE MAID:

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My foster-mother says I am worse off Now for all my riches; Ive seen many, son of Gwilym, Have a man who would deceive me.
DAFYDD:

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A man whod love yous no deceiver, Hell not abide smooth words or cheating. I would not wish if I could have [you] To cheat you, black of eyebrows.

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THE POET BEING HONEST

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I was no man to cheat you out Of your house, fair shining tower. Whereer I am no man will cheat you, Nor vainly slander, by the Lords sort of protection. Your face can not be faulted, My treasure, none will cheat you.

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8 Trystan: Tristan, the lover of Esyllt (l.14), or Iseult, see 16.14. 17 sendal: silken fabric used for rich dresses. 33 The version of the Welsh punctuated as follows: Nid oeddwn {r, gloywdwr gln, is preferred and translated.

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34

PAYING A DEBT
1

Cywyddau, of prudent, splendid growth, A pretty armful fine songsters ample crop; There was not, of them (point of complaint), Any organ less concealed. My breast is loves stone house (Of one mother and one father), and it played me false. The whole ambit of the hoary robber Was from this same one begotten. I gave to her some services Fluent praise from what I own, Sound of a harp, [sound] of a clock: Too great a gift; a drunk man gave it! I, like any love-crazed idiot, Sowed her praise throughout all Gwynedd. It flies well and full of growth, Thick seed; a splendid sowing! The girls praised far (shes not slow witted), All know it; all liberal, gentle men. Ardently they followed me, With their Who? in every highway. Her song, made splendidly for her, Is a ringing pater noster From all who play a deep bass-string In all feasts, in wondrous numbers. Tongue raised her praise a hundredfold, (Her smile is sweet) thAmen of praise, For at the end of every prayer She is (right recall) named [there]. She is the sister, colour of bright sunlight, Of Gwgons daughter, a horse rider. Where she would stand I am one voice With the cuckoo, Mays hired maid. That one can master (its her nature) With her grey mantle but one note. The cuckoo does not cease to prattle, She grows hoarse twixt rock and sea. She sings no cywydd (a calm oath), Nor accent except Cuckoo.

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PAYING A DEBT

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It is known that I in Mn Was a monks servant (too much burdened) Who performs (two sneezes lucky!) No tasks but one, the sturdy-hearted. With restless mind did I pursue My honest plea, like holding breath. Farewell now, on her account I cannot have A shelter or a hiding place. I have used to honour her The crafts [most] deep resources. She has a heap if she will save them, And if theyre sown in fertile soil: To slender Morfudd (straight and lissome) Seven cywyddau and seven score! For her love I am a wretch, Let her take them, I am guiltless. Worthy love extorts no fee: She has no further claim on me.

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1 Cywyddau: poems in seven-syllable lines which rhyme in couplets, see the Introduction, p. xv. 22 pater noster = Our Father, the first two words of the Lords prayer in Latin. 25 The W. canmawl can mean praise and also a hundred praises. Here, I have opted for the latter. 30 Gwgon: is this Gwgon Gleddyfrudd (Red-sword), the ninth-century character who may have been the last king of Ceredigion in mid-Wales? 39 Mn: Anglesey. 40 Was Dafydd a monks servant, or is this a metaphor? 41 The Welsh considered sneezing a prelude to good luck, unlike the English who say Bless you when one sneezes in order to undo any malign influences. 46 In the W. text amdanai appears in this line. It may be amdanai (about me, concerning me) or a slip for amdani (about her, on account of her). The latter appears more likely. 50 sown: lit., put/placed.

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35

DENYING HE HAD BEEN A MONK


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Good Morfudd, with red cheek[s], exquisite, Twice the hue of [any] snow, the very best of maids; Of high brow, a faultless girl: To the worlds dismay, you take the bell. Girl, youre twice as good for being honoured; Praises maid, do tell me (Muses glory, lands bright mistress, Lady of a golden lord) is it true that you Did say, girl, that you would not want (Cold frolic) a man who has a tonsure? Oh God, why did you, moon of an honest oath, Make such a declaration? If you (firm covenant of faith She went too far!) refuse a man of faith For enamel, gems and gold For yourself, my girl of golden brow, I am, girl, still satisfied with you, Tall, slender maid, beneath the birch-grove. If a gibe (joy of bright summers prime, My treasure) or vain talk of me, Bounteous Morfudd (a maid of blackberry brow), Was that talk about my golden tonsure, Too harshly, my maid of [true] nobility, For this long time youve made a jest of me. A curse on me (my splendid maid, Radiant as the way of the swift sun of May) If ever I saw anyone (A golden pledge) whod mock Without being (so they told me) herself (To this fault Ill testify) a target [then] of mockery. For this am I (wound-bound by conflict), Morfudd, illustrious gem, in agony. Dazzling sun, sea-water platter, Twice the hue of sunshine, youve no right (With renownd passion bubbling, flesh pure white) To make any ready mockery

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DENYING HE HAD BEEN A MONK

75

(Most wondrous joy, the best of any being) Of your [most] blessd bard, whilst youre alive. Fine-browed maid, there is no butt for mockery In bounteous Morfudds lively poet, Though the hairs fallen (anguished cloak) From my pate, unblemished author. I, your perfect Ovid, will not be, [And] I was not, in any May, a novice; I did not wear (I excised anger) A hood for virtuous head, or habit; I did not learn (battles absolute oppression) On good parchment one word at all of Latin. My beards not grey (a splendid weapon) My tonsure is not broader [and] not less Than when, dear gem, we were (It is our pain) making love together. You went (Wow! thaccomplishment and cost!) To your bed ([you] beauty of eight lovely lamps) With your arms (colour of the summer flowers, Gem of [all] men) around me; And I, my dear jewel, Loving you, [my] modest, black-browed maid: But [now] its not allowed (a happy song, Entirely true) to make this manifest. A glorious hour, a wealth of heavy gold! Girl, in spite of this, my silent maid, Tell [me], my darling, choose Which one of these youll do, sun of the month of May: Will you be true for long (of lively verve) With love for me thats undenied, Or will you (a face that prompts desire), My maiden, tell me that you wont. If youre sorry that you loved me (Such turmoil long ago), Youll have your role whilst there is secrecy! Love God again, [and] go unscathed, But do not say, my darling maid, A bitter word of any man with tonsure.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

4 take the bell: means to be foremost, to be a leader. The saying may have derived from the practice of putting a bell on the neck of the leader of a flock. 43 Ovid: the Latin love-poet, see 6.16. 48 on good parchment: lit., on good leather.

DESPONDENCY

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36

DESPONDENCY
1

Last night my work was pleasant With grace and prowess in late afternoon, [When] a mans colour (being loved, a bold one Beneath thick covering) and a black groves is the same. On a green bank above me There was a friendly cock-thrush Giving me (yield of memorys research, An acknowledged omen) encouragement.
COCK-THRUSH:

I know some very good advice for you For Mays long days, and if youll take it, do so, And sit beneath a birch-tree castle God knows there was no better house And beneath your head a pillow Of fine feathers, the trees becoming plumage; Above your head will be my birch-tree, Fair, radiant fort of coverlets. I am not ill, dont want to be, I am not well, by God above [me]; I am not dead, by noble Peter, And God knows [well] Im not alive. If one admitted wish were granted me By Christ from heaven, that gift of grace would be Either to die without a single greeting, Or live, a glorious man in love. There was a time, but it is past, Ah me!, when I was well and lively, When Christ, high Lord, was not allowed To steal [my] summer from me.

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34 A Welsh saying about twilight, When a man and a grove are one colour.

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37

LOVING A LADY
1

Dyddgu, faultlessly accomplished, My love light of a lamp: Wantonness, stealthily, deceitfully, Indeed came on me, from above me. Lady of the the snow-white teeth, To love you was to catch a plague, If Im a man, Ill never go to seek The girl of a straight-lancd lord Lest I be called (in the familiar way) Like him whose occupations shabby! Too high, say some above me, I climbed when I delivered praise. Confidence will make a climber: Strongly hell climb like a lord of the wood, Until hell come, as is his right, Little by little to the top above. From there it will be hard for him To come lest he incur offence. Sailors, when they get a freeing wind, There they will, tacking, make their way Without an inch (disappointments bad) From the top of a bare, leaking plank [These] rowers, unwise mariners Between them and the naked deep. But by meandering they come Ashore a goodly omen. A bowman will throw away all trash That, unscathed, goes past the target, Except for that perfect shot Inside the bull, is it not well he does so? A chance shot would it be, [my] girl, If, of a hundred, there would be one hit: A chance shot it would be, [my] fine-browed maid, Fair modest gem, for me to have you.

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LOVING A LADY

79

And because of this, [you] jewel well-acclaimed, My hopes not bad: no need! It could happen, girl [like] flour-coloured snow, That I could have you, auburn-browed [and] precious. All that could be would [all] be futile Should I not have you: blessed is he who would! If I wont have you for a mighty and Immortal song, O maid of youthful talent, Ill have you, one whose face is gentle, My dear, when no one else may want you.

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38

THE LADY GOLDSMITH


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Goldsmith-lady with a belt of twigs, The kind that has been on a birch-tree top, To me twould be an asset (forest gift), Were I to have the profit shes so skilful. To save the craft of goldsmithery She went into a leafy smithy, And won praise and salutation, And with her hand she soldered love. With her fingers (my golden, gentle treasure) She wove birches tenderly; And my fair goldsmith (kindreds jewel), Wholl not slight me, planned to fashion A belt, of mighty privilege, out of the shoots Of the trees upon the slope: A small wood-piece that will bind a belly (A well-known craft twixt thumb and finger), Better far than [any] belt of pretty amber, A belt of hair from a sparkling birchs head; With tips of boughs Im encompassed Its worth all girdles in the South. Faithfully will it keep long life for me; Im in good trim with the belt she gave me. My birch-belt from the wood (it will be kept) Would make my sorrow long. It is my boon cant do without it; My life it was all summer long. My boy, my unwithholding brother, My bound birch! my darling gave it to me. Morfudds belt it was a vision of Her own clever craft, a gem of verdant birch. My breast is shattered (most joyous bustle) Beneath the birch-belt of an adept maid. Its stylish work on a good birch-tree, She knew the way to make wood pretty. Her notions better than is Siancyns The goldsmith: she wants a frequent levy!

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THE LADY GOLDSMITH

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Shed cohere slender shoots: Blessd is he, the weak who would be (Id give gold for my advantage!) On top of that goldsmith lady.

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17 Better far than: lit., A hundred times better. 35 Siancyn: not known other than in this reference. 39 Lit., My hand would gild for my own good. There are other interpretations of this line.

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39

THE DREAM
1

As I was dozing in a secret place ([And] I knew how to hide) I saw, at the first flush of dawning, A dream at brow of morning. I saw that I was strolling With my pack of hounds at hand And into a wood descending, A fair place no surly villeins dwelling! It seemed to me I loosed, without delay, The dogs into the wood. I could hear the baying (impassioned voices, Often sounding) of pursuing dogs. Above the clearing I could see A white hind (I loved the chase) With a pack of hounds pursuing Her [and very] good their coursing; She made for the hill by an unbroken ridge, And over two spurs and a knoll, And over the slopes again On her way, like a stag upon his course, And came (and I was angry) Submissive to my care; Two bare nostrils! I awoke, Voracious, in the hut where I had been. Happily enough, when it was day I found a virtuous old woman. I confessed to her the portent Of the night as it did seem to me: By God, wise woman, if you could Find some end to this much magic, I would not (I know a hundred woundings) Compare anyone with you. I have no hope. Your dream, you [sad] no-hoper, Is a good thing, if youre a man. The dogs you saw without concealment At your hand (if you knew secret language)

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THE DREAM

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Swift runners on unerring course Are your bold messengers of love. And the white hind[s] a lady (Hue of the foam in sunlight) whom you used to love, And this is sure: that she will come Into your care, and may [Lord] God protect you!

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36 secret: lit., tenacious, unyielding; i.e. a form of expression which is not easily understood, the language of magic. 40 Hue of the foam in sunlight: lit., colour of foam in fine weather.

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40

A SIGN
1

As I was the other night Quite wretched for a third of it! Walking, most fervently awaiting A modest maid, most dignified, Near by the court of Jaloux and his wife (Hed shout after me if he knew I was), I (most wretched, heavy-hearted) looked All around the house, a mighty fortress. Through pane-glass window [when] I looked (To see the girl was all mens bliss), This is what, by my trickery, I saw: The very best girl alive! The girls shape with her head bent Was dazzling; hue like Branwen, daughter of Ll}r. There was not in daytime any light Nor sun as dazzling as she! A great miracle is her fair face; So fair is she compared to all the living! I felt compelled to greet her: How easily did she respond to me. We came up, the two of us, To the very limit yet no one knew. No more than three words passed between us, If there did, no one knew a word of it! I did not try to take advantage of my prize And if Id tried, Id not have had it. We gave two sighs that would break The band of steel that was between us. At that I bid the maid farewell, Than whom no girl is gentler. One thing Ill do for the life of me Not tell at all who is [this] she!

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The poet meets the wife of Jaloux; he is on the ouside of a window, she on the inside. According to l.9 there is a pane of glass between them; according to l.28 there is also some kind of steel band perhaps steel bars. 5 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the girlfriends jealous husband. 14 Branwen daughter of Ll}r: a character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi.

AN UNYIELDING LADY

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AN UNYIELDING LADY
1

As I, religious men of Christendom, Was crossing [once] a mountain, With my bright cape about me Like a farmer, yearning for summer, Behold upon the moor a slip Of a maid awaiting me. I greeted her (mind of a dainty swan!), This wise and gentle maid. She responded to her poet A love response, it seemed to me! Wed walk together like May-maidens: But that cold girl, she would not walk. With that fair maid I was compliant: Kiss-compliant, she was not! I [then] praised her shining eyes (Let handsome poets praise her) [And] asked, before the wars should come, If she would have me: she was heaven to me!
MAID: You, lad from the uplands, will not get An answer [from me]: I dont know yet. Lets go, on Sunday, to Llanbadarn Or to the tavern, you impudent man; And there, in the greenwood Or in heaven, well keep a tryst. I wouldnt want it known, lest I be scorned, That Im in the midst of small birch-trees. POET:

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For your love Im called a coward: But your lovers a brave man! (Dont shy away, you noble fellow, Despite that womans chiding.) I know a place of verdant woods, The like of which he, Jaloux, Never knew, will never know Whilst theres a mantle on a tree or twig.

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Accept my pleading, maiden, Keeper, robber of the grove. The wayward wench [just] would not do What she had said, niece of the cuckoo! A foolish promise made me merry: A trust in wine is that girls tryst!

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1 Here the poet greets his audience, a congregation of monks. 2930 I take these two lines to be an attempt by the poet to bolster his confidence. 32 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 37 The word hocrell translated as wench is, in the first place, a young sheep. 38 What she had said: lit., What she did with her word. 40 Lit., The maids tryst is a promise made in wine; that is, not at all dependable.

MORFUDD LIKE THE SUN

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42

MORFUDD LIKE THE SUN


1

Im waiting for a soft-voiced maid, Hue of fine snow upon a stony meadow; God sees that [this] girls radiant, Brighter than a crown of foam; Bright [as] a white [and] noisy-crested wave, Bright [as] sunlight, she is modest, Knows how to win a love-song from my lips Of suns best aspect close upon a cloud! The peoples dawn in mantle of fine fur She knows well how to mock an ugly man. Exquisite Morfudd, woe the poor, weak poet Who loves her, fair [and] gentle, gracious maid. A web of gold: woe that a man Of goodly form is crying out in anguish. Great is her deceit and trickery More than anything: but shes my darling. One time my white maid will appear In church and court: another time (Proud maid, lime-white [between] fort-battlements) The bright and radiant Morfudd hides; Like sun ringed round with lively goodness, Foster-mother of the land of sunlight. Her precious office is praiseworthy, Mays merchant, [shes] light-giving. Radiant Morfudds long expected, Bright, lovely mirror of great [and] splendid Mary. Over earths immense circumference The sun comes like a brightly coloured girl Lovely from the days own being, Skys shepherdess from end to end. After a thick clouds hidden her A great and primal war When there may be (we feel great pain) Need for the sun which dazzles sight, She escapes so that its almost dark A tinge, when it comes, of nights sad pain.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

The dark blue sky will [then] be full Of planets absence sadness likeness. Far be it then for anyone to know (She is Gods ball) where it is she goes. No hand can [ever] touch her, Nor [ever] grasp her brim. On the morrow she will rise again, Will kindle, far away, from the worlds heaven. Not unlike [her] (it is pains portion) Is Morfudds hiding from me; After coming from high heaven Beneath heavens sun to journey down below, The one whose frown is lovely sets Beneath the lintel of the evil, miserable man. I sought passion in the glade Of Penrhyn, loves abode. Daily in that place is seen A fine and shining maid: [and] nightly fleeing. On the halls floor it is not easier To touch [her with] a hand (I have been slain) Than it would be (maid freely praised, well lavished) For peoples hands to catch the sun. The shining sun does not possess A joyful, brighter, better face than she. If anyone is this year most fair, Most fair of all is our sun, kin of a lord. Why is it (a showing a much desired step!) That one does not possess the night, And the other does not as splendid sunlight, Goodly light bring colour to the day? If these two beauties were to show In worlds four breaches in rotation, It were a wonder for a stiff-leaved book If night ever came in this girls lifetime.

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The suns gender is feminine in Middle Welsh; that is why it is referred to as she and her in this translation.

MORFUDD LIKE THE SUN

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9 dawn: literally, and most appropriately in this context. The metaphoric and customary meaning is lady. 38 planet: that is, the sun. 50 The lintel of the door of Jaloux, the jealous husband. 52 Penrhyn: may refer to Penrhyn-coch, near Aberystwyth. 656 does not . . . bring colour to the day: lit., does not . . . colour the day.

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43

MORFUDDS PLEDGE
1

To do harm (a false offence) is better Than to sulk sullenly and boorishly. Morfudd, of the hue of shining snow, Would be fair with her man at last. She, well-mannered and Of Luneds light, gave me her troth, By means of her ring-heavy hand And will of arm and mind: Shed love me (lord of [his] kind!) If ape will love its foster-son. A worthy pledge, if not forsworn: [And] if its true, Im blessed. Ive never had a favour (covert, [And] wholly satisfying), since gifts were given to me, As good as having this from one Whos bountiful if its a flawless gift. Its not a gem (a mark of vanity), Not valley birch, nor a false treasure. Its the goldwork of thexalted Son of Mary, Made with His bare hand by the Lords light, A psalm from God who sealed it, A treasure with his hand and his support, It was a part twill be enough Of a knot between us both; And he who breaks it, he will go Into fire deep and long. And I gave my darling mine Of dainty shape and modest As a strong pledge (in lieu of one well-worn) Into her hand, the hue of sunlight, As I, by name Dafydd, had been given In the water through unfettered power A strong shaft of love, true love, of God, To cherish her, snow of the hillside. The trust was favoured, I know well, And God it was that made it.

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MORFUDDS PLEDGE

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The girl gave, with gesture of her hand, A fistful, blessd be it. Required pledge, fair, perfect, full of grace, The goodness of just truth! A pledge to God with her right hand, That, Im certain, s no false pledge; Proud, of joyful growth, of Indegs hue [She made] a good pledge along her lovely hand. Loves book in her hand will be A master [and] ruler of summer. In cold water was ordained The pledge that Morfudd Llwyd did make.

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6 Luned: a lady who appears in the Welsh medieval romance, Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain. 43 Indeg: a lady noted for her beauty, see 16.10. 48 Morfudd Llwyd: as an adjective Llwyd means grey, blue, green, but here, as in other poems, it is likely to be the family name of Morfudds father.

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44

A GIRLS HEAD-DRESS
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Today I, Dafydd, see (An easy time Ill have today) Twixt hair that made me wild and savage And her two eyebrows (a lords daughter) A hundred pounds worth of layered stones And burnished gold put on a forehead. [Ah] slender maid, it is too seldom That I see you, most excellent and glorious. Well, theres a seeing thats not easy! Wow! What a brow beneath a lace of molten gold! By the Holy Rood from Eidals land And [by] Mans blood, that brow is fine! The head-dress of my man-wounding maid Is lands enamel, truly stunning; And the headpiece is [of] azure On the crown [and] pressed on cambric. She who hurts me has Fflurs colour; A fetter of good gold upon a brow! My absolute complaint, theres on her brow (Maelors candle, her treachery is great) A large chaplet (that head-dress is my pain!) Of gold florins, a sparkling string of joy. Fine etching on leaves of fleur-de-lis, And cast gold from the Paris stronghold. A gem is she of the two commotes, Gold of France; one colour, she, with gushing water; Bright prime-time, light-complexioned snow, Honour of the worlds proud women. Ah me, O Son of good, chaste Mary: How fair is she, who wont avail [me]!

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2 I have taken the line as Hawdd fyd im heddiw a fydd, and not Hawdd fyd i heddiw a fydd. 11 Eidals land: the land of a certain Eidal, whoever he was. It is unlikely to be Italy (W. Yr Eidal). 14 Thomas Parrys suggested reading: Owmal y wlad, leiddiad lwyr (for L}r) has been adopted. Leiddiad L}r would mean Ll}rs slayer. Ll}r is a character mentioned in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. enamel: W. owmal, a decorative coating, usually colourful.

A GIRLS HEAD-DRESS

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17 Fflur: according to the Welsh Triads, a certain Caswallon son of Beli went to Rome to search for a maid called by this name. Her name means flowers and she was regarded as a legendary beauty. 20 Maelor: in north-east Wales. 23 fleur-de-lis: French for lily.

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45

DYDDGU
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Ieuan, lord of worthy father, fiery spear, True son of Gruffudd, battle-raiser, Son of Llywelyn (of a fair wine fort) Llwyd, youre a lord and true war-leader, The other night I was, and feeling lively, In your house may you be long rewarded! But from then till now its not been easy (Fair joy) for me to have any proper sleep. Id have your gold, most graciously and freely [given], Your sparkling wine, your joy, Your fresh mead (which poets cant resist!), And your bragget foaming darkly. Your fair [and] slender daughter would not, I know, make love in stone-made mansion. Ive not slept a wink at all, Not woven songs these are ills of my affliction! Holy God, who will appease me? Nothing goes into my heart But her most precious love: If I had it all entirely, would I need more? This one loves me not, a plague afflicts me, She wont let me sleep at all if old age allows me. Romes Wise Men, they would have marvelled How wonderfuls the beauty of my slender dear. Whiter than spring snow is she: Im left without the sweet girls love. White is her brow beneath the branch[es], Black her hair: [but] she is chaste! Blacker her hair (straight tresses) Than a blackbird or a brooch of jet. The untouched whiteness on her radiant flesh Makes her hair blacker [and] worthi[er] of song! Her type of beautys not unlike, (So says her poet on a genial day) That of the girl, most lovable, courted By the warrior long ago (my griefs complete),

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DYDDGU

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Peredur (observing in deep sorrow) Son of Efrog, a strong and modest knight, When he was watching, in a radiant light, In the snow (an eagle lord In azure mantle near to Esyllts grove) The proud path where the wild hawk had been Killing (improperly, with none whod stop him) The blackbird of a noble maid. The true signs, they were all there (Was God not worthy of the way shes painted?): In snow so high, [in] heaped-up drifts, So say her kin, is the very nature of her brow; The wing of that quick blackbird Is like her eyebrows Im enthralled; The blood of that bird after snowfall (Of suns status) is [very] like her cheeks. Such is Dyddgu (hair gold-circled) With her black, shining, lovely hair. I used to be a judge, about my business; Let that congress there of judges Say whether its worthwhile for me (My ardent wish) to live because of my love.

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Dyddgu was the daughter of the Ieuan ap (son of ) Gruffudd ap (son of ) Llywelyn Llwyd mentioned at the beginning of this poem. 12 bragget: a drink, ale. 23 Romes Wise Men: the reference is to a collection of tales in which the son of a Roman emperor is educated by seven wise men. 27 Lit., White is her brow beneath a branch. 29 straight tresses: lit., straight trees. 378 Peredur son of Efrog appears in a medieval Welsh romance called Peredur. In the romance is an episode to which ll.3952 refer. 41 Esyllt: Iseult, see 16.14

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46

LOVES LIKE A HARE


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Heres a topic of the rule-book of the work Of a master of the hounds (where [a hare] is, he will be) [In] coursing a leveret that would dash (Almighty hassle) from the bush where she (Grey, long-eared) would be by a green oak-grove [That] spotty-cheeked, fast-moving, hillock-bounder. She is what they, the hounds, all want, Chord for [their] harmony, wild long-leaping dog[s]. An androgyne that, on a clay bank, would Cause jitters in a feeble, sluggish hound. Short-of-chin, small, eating shoots: I know the fate of grey white-breeches! A pantsful of hemp in hoarfrost, Pet-favourite of a thick gorse bush. Trash of new stalks above a valley, Swill from wild-cubs grass-place. A bandit on a stretch of cornfield verge: Be off, short-ruddy, idiot cat! Long-ranging cat, red-spotted cheeks, Wild-grey bag of wood-bog lair. Rock-hills daring treasure, flies in haste, Wandering-woman of undergrowth, With mountain lair, head-dress of bolts, White-limbed, half-wild kid-goat. Quick from her place in hoarfrost: Shove[d] by the tip of [her] fur boot! Stick to her [in] close chase In front of men (a whirry of wind) Bounding [free] from track to track, From wood to fair, bright-sloping field, On true course on the hill-track Of red, good-covring bracken, From one niche to another, From being in dew to tangled stalks. Of easy mind, and loving corn, If God allows it, [shes] earths brisk one. Knows how to be of fickle purpose, Wild thrust, swift from her lair,

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LOVES LIKE A HARE

97

Cat-limbed, aiming for a nest-clump, A deep fortress her coming [there]s oblique. To the farmstead where warmth shines, If shed have food, she rose. Im sleepless for a lusty girl: A feeble man, I am like her. My efforts for my soulmate; My passion was to love my maid, My musing, she, when I was envious, My fiery aim, my frenzied mind From the memory of a poem rose From the place where it had been for profit, From a love-bed, [you] bright [and] glorious girl, From a wine-floor, O deft [and] lively lady. I hunted love (vain hunter) To elicit it (bright hue of stars) From the one whos (angers patter) fair Of brow in that square bastion there. What good was ever (she was no more complaisant) Pain to me without one happy hour? Her love (wise, irate maid) Gods graces! ran with a hinds dash, In two-footed measure (angers wherewithal), A thief, enraged, back to its place again. It will not go compliantly where Id appoint it From where it was [there] dressing up a wound. It will not stay in any shelter, Will not be bound in jaws of any net. The land (a great and direct burden) Of Gwgon Redsword (bright are his two arms) Tonight I shall not have (a sick one who is ailing) One wink of sleep unless Im there. She of the hue of snow upon a glade Does not know (a daring thought) of loves movement, [Of] fears harvest, [of] this kind of warfare: This wont go (by the name that it may bear; The temper of mad mind) from its domain; A maids claim its been nailed there. She of lovely hue provoked long anger; An old thief, like a nightmare.

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14 Pet-favourite: the Welsh lledfegin can refer to a half-domesticated wild animal; it can also mean a well-regarded pet, as well as simply creature. 1922 These lines are also found in poem 60, ll.36. 23 head-dress of bolts: an image for the long ears of the hare. 40 The Welsh g{yr can mean knows as well as oblique. I take it to refer to the zigzag manner of the hares running. 44 her: the hare. 49 poem: lit., an ode. 66 in jaws of any net: lit., in a two-jawed net. 68 Gwgon Redsword: Gwgon Gleddyfrudd, of Ceredigion in mid-Wales, see 34.30. 6970, 78 These lines are also found in poem 139, ll.3940, 42.

BARGAINING

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47

BARGAINING
1

The girl does not lie with her lord: No one else finds fault with her! He does not sleep within her fort, Does not guard my lady chaste. She would accept (not worth the effort) For her confession no less a sum than six pounds. I (an adept one at trading) Would give one pound to that little girl But Id not give it all at once To my dear girl of fine and thorough pleading: Id give to that golden girl Sixscore pence if she got pregnant; And sixscore pence for six times trysting Id give: Id make my way. At sixscore pence (a pretty sum) Id stick and give her threescore. Of this three score (she doesnt want me) Two score was price enough for her. And, furthermore, if she (endowed With [such] dream features) took all of my two score, The price of that true, fair maids Too much by nearly twenty. Were I forced, to my little girl Id give Twelve pence; or eight [to her] as payment. Six pence is the sum in hand; rather Than not give [at all], Id give her four. From four to an exactment [then] of three, And from three it goes to two. Ah! for money for the borrowing For a penny Id have my gentle soul! I cant give (except by wishing) Money on hand to that fair maid. If you wish, (heaven for my soul!) Youd have the body on the body, And have, beneath a green-leaved grove, a young mans oath That the value is not bad, but good, [my] girl!

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100

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

A curse upon him if Im the man (If she, my bold maid, does not want this Not that its something she deserves) That will give, ever, more for her. Another day wheneer I can At any time Im [your] serving man!

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6 confession: I take it to be a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

THE GIRLS OF LLANBADARN

101

48 THE GIRLS OF LLANBADARN I am bent because of passion, A plague on all maids in this parish! For I had not (firm tryst betrayed) Any one of these girls ever, Not a virgin of sweet promise, Not a little girl, nor crone, nor spouse. What mischief, hindrance can it be, Whats wrong that they dont want me? For a fine-browed maid what harm would it be In a dark, dense wood to have me! In a leafy lair it would not be A shame for her to see me! No time there was I did not love (No magics so tenacious) Surpassing men of Garwys nature In a day one [girl] or two. In spite of this I was no nearer Having one than my foe-woman. In Llanbadarn not a Sunday Passed, as others can say, When Id not face the dazzling maid And turn my back upon Gods grace. And when Id looked long upon My people oer my feathers, I heard a beauty speaking plainly To her sprightly, wise companion: That lad, that pale-faced dandy, With his sisters hair upon his head, His look is most adulterous, That sly-eye knows a thing or two! Is that how it is with him? The other, by her, asks her, Whilst this world lasts, its no response To him; to hell with him, the ponce!
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102

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

How strange the scolding of this shining maid Small prize for loves amazement! I must, for fear of frightful dreaming, Give up this way of living. A hermit I must be withal Fit calling for a rascal. With too much looking (a sure lesson!) Oer my shoulder, a picture of dejection, It happened that I, most poetical man, Had a wry neck but had no woman.

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Llanbadarn would have been Dafydds parish church if he were living in Brogynin. 15 Garwy: cited by the poets as a legendary lover. His loves name was supposed to be Creirwy. 22 Lit., With the nape of my neck to the good, fine God. 30 Lit., That one with an oblique look; he knows wickedness well.

A GIRLS MAKE-UP

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49

A GIRLS MAKE-UP
1

Some of the girls of the regions This is what they do on fair-days, Pleasant days: they put pearls, pure-sparkling ruby On their brows, all gold and lively, And wear red for a girl a striking colour And green: woe to him who has no lover! Not an arm (that will by embrace bear burden) Nor the neck of one thin-eyebrowed maid Will be seen without about it (hot sunshine hawks!) Beads, a lifes [great] wonder! Must the sun (a costly wandring) From where she is seek out more colour? Theres no more need for my lovely dear To put a band on her fair brow, Nor look yonder in the mirror: The fair maids face is excellent indeed. The yew bow, not in good condition (Consider it as two halves even; For battle, gear that will not kill) Its back with gold is coloured; For a great sum this bow is sold, I know this for a fact. Its not imagined (true recall) That in the fair there is deceit or fault [at all]. Mary! Is it worse that the white wall Is under whitewash (fitting cover) Than if a pound (a mans false price) Were given for a painter to come To paint prettily (lively patches) The empty space with colours of bright gold, And other lovely colours And shapes of handsome shields? Its true, my love two times the hue of stars, Wherever I may go I am in pain.

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104

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

And you (your mans destruction; White-toothed little one, deserving song) Youre better in a seemly frock in grey Than any lady dressed in gold.

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12 The suns gender is feminine in Middle Welsh, that is why it is referred to as she here; see poem 42.

PLAYING NUTS IN MY HAND

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50

PLAYING NUTS IN MY HAND


1

My songs a psalm from Ovids book; A lover has no stratagem Without a partner with him To admit all things to him. Theres one who is as I would wish, A brother to me, a love-poet; Supporter in my slavish loving, Advocate in longings knots. There was not (a dear little dainty maid, If she is straight) any more persistent (She hardly cheats at all) Than we two (my pretty maid). And he began to generate A sound of loves frustration. For her sake of Eigrs beauty We played false, [and] we knew why.
FRIEND:

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Nuts in my polite right hand.


POET:

Theyll come to me; a gentle girl will bring them.


FRIEND:

Peas of free green hazels, hawk-wind woods, Why are they yours? These nuts are plump.
POET:

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They, tight-knotted strength, were sent to me.


FRIEND:

From whom, says he, [and] for what reason? See that you may not reject a gift Ist a gentle maid that sent them?
POET:

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A maid comely as fine gossamer, Fair Morfudd, great will her gift be.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

FRIEND:

Does she who wounds [all] poets love you?


POET:

Yes, its certain; I am loved. If she (the gem of many) loves me, then Allow, for passion, an odd number. The thin-browed maid sent this to me [Now] theres a generous gem! She (gifted, colour of snow canopy) Sent the nuts, a hazel crop (a clear sign, By God and by Saint Deinioel) As barter for a song, agreeable [and] golden. There will be (sweet prophecy) A meeting in the greenwood, if this signs no lie. I am a lad uplifted what a glorious meeting: If the signs true, I am a woodland squire! If a cywydd [and] a sign be true (Monks wont believe us), there will be salvation. Flagons and forest feathers Together, a proper crop for trees. Are they not shells, that have fat kernels, Bright knot-heads of the hazel branches? Fingertips when they did once Press through the forests gloves. It is not unendearing to bring Greetings of buttons, examples of love. No teeth, in spite of gluttony, will crack them I am Ysgolan: no one sees him! The girls bright gift (true prohibition) Will not by any stone be broken. And I myself of my provision Of nuts (the Son of Grace, He made them) Shall pay, before ashes of grey earth, To her dear beauty for the woodland fruit.

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Nuts in my hand was a game. There were two players, one had nuts in his hand and the other claimed that they had been sent to him/her by his/her lover. If the number

PLAYING NUTS IN MY HAND

107

of nuts was an odd number, that was a sign of his/her lovers loyalty. Thomas Parry suggests that the formula for playing was something like this: A: Ive nuts in my hand. B: They are for me. A: Why? B: Because they were sent to me. A: Who sent them? B: My lover. [Who would then be named.] A: Does he/she love you? B: If he/she loves me, you have an odd number of nuts in your hand. 14 This may be a reference to Ovids Remedia Amoris (ll.579608), where it is recommended that lovers should seek the company of friends and not be by themselves; for Ovid, see also 6.16. 15 Eigr: a noted beauty, see 16.51. 29 many: lit., of a hundred. 35 Saint Deinioel: a sixth-century Welsh saint, the patron saint of Bangor. He founded the two monasteries of Bangor, in Gwynedd, and Bangor Iscoed, in Clwyd. 42 Monks: lit., religion. 51 teeth: lit., lip. 52 Ysgolan: an obscure figure, and an obscure reference. Ysgolan was an ysgolhaig, a cleric, who had to endure penance for burning a church, killing a cow and drowning a book. He is also associated with an incident when books were burnt.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

51

HIS LOVES PRE-EMINENCE


1

Three women with faces like gossamer Were given (wholly rightfully) The lovely beauty (in the perfect state) That God from Heaven gave Eve. The first of these three shining brightly That had it (audacious, lively grace): Polyxena, [great] Priams daughter, A noble treasure wearing fur. The second, she was Deidameia, Of the fine beauty of light-expending summer sun. The third maid, [and] sometime progeny of Rhun, Was Elen fair and slender Fannog, [She] who caused [such] anguish And war between Troy and Greece. A fourth (in the noble style of love) Is the lovely, slender, clear, shining girl Coming worthily, attractively (Mens passion) to the temple (golden place) With multitudes [all] looking at her (Shining lady) on a large [and] glistening floor. And I (the idea came to me) Asked who the lovely little maid could be. This one is (bright, joyful moon) The sister of the Moon (of the same father), And niece to splendid Sunny Weather, Her mother was the Dawn of flawless day; It is from Gwynedd shes descended, Grand-daughter of the Sun in heaven. No woman that I know is white, No lime on any grand stone chambers white, No pale and curling wave is white, No foam of any lake or snowdrifts white, No face thats truly radiants white Compared (by Mary!) to my darlings face. By my counsel I would wager (Hue of a foaming wave when the sea is boiling)

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HIS LOVES PRE-EMINENCE

109

That theres no believing living Christian Could find fault with this maids colour: But that shes the height of praise, Gods my witness, [and is] brighter than a lamp. Let not any Welshman wonder That the girls called by her colour. He who, pleasantly, would take The world and let her be May the core of that mans heart Be churned with this deep-reaching knife! However great my wealth may be And my refined [and] innate praise, More and more, immediately, Would my darlings life pine [as] memory in me. Gentle men, of what profit would it be to me, To gain [great] wealth, and let her be? There is no hope this year For any man older than her!

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7 Polyxena: in early Greek legend, the daughter of Priam and Hecuba, celebrated for her beauty and accomplishments. 9 Deidameia: daughter of Lycomedes, king of the isle of Scyros, where Achilles was hidden before the beginning of the Trojan Wars. 11 Rhun is a mans name, but his name does not match any of the supposed forebears of Elen. 12 Elen Fannog: Helen of Troy. The epithet Bannog refers to a mark which she was supposed to have on her forehead. The three women referred to here are cited in a Welsh Triad (Rachel Bromwich, Trioedd Ynys Prydein (Cardiff, 1961), Triad 50, p.129), in this way: Three Women who received the Beauty of Eve in three third-shares: Diadema (= Dido?), mistress of Aeneas White-Shield, and Elen [Fannawg, translated as] the Magnificent, the woman on whose account was the destruction of Troy, and Polixena, daughter of Priam the Old, king of Troy. 238 Dafydd provides a fanciful pedigree for his love. 42 Lit.: That the girl is called by the colour she may be. Is there a clue to the girls name in this line? The colour would be white and her name could be Gwen. 4950 Extremely difficult. A possible literal translation would be: More and more would [it] pine immediately the memory in me, the life of my darling or my soul. 51 The poet addresses his audience. 54 Lit.: For the man who may be older than her. The Welsh word dyn may be translated as man, woman or anyone. Dafydd appears to be saying he is older than the girl, too old to have any hope of being her lover.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

52

SEEKING RECONCILIATION
1

Fair Morfudd, a proud [and] golden Tegau, Beam of the warm sun upon a whitewashed fort, Pay for [your] praise before you hoard: You are the poets treachery. In my round breast, through trusting, Pain grew, because you are so shifty. And some that call you maiden Say, my slender darling, Your love for me (lord of affliction) Will not last (O beautiful of countenance) More than foam will (fine and splendid maiden) After water (a liveliness unmarred). Such small payment (in [your] way a lively Dyfr): Two times better would you listen (Im wroth to hear you mentioned) To a man who would speak falsely, Spout out one word of slander (O bright Tegau) than [any] ten of praise. Its not willingly Id say About you, indeed (O [fine] snow shower), Cheek to cheek (two times the hue of stars), That your shifty love has no reward. Say that I, by virtue of foolhardiness, Had, in drunkenness (the darkness of deceit!) Uttered a word in jest, Between madness and frenzy, You know (twice the hue of any wave), By Cybis life that you should not (Bright gold gem [and] praises partner) Forbid a jester his atonement. Ah fair one, beneath great trees above [us], Know my mind if you deny me. No defamation came from me: Its thus that Marys foster Son Did with the blind man (reliable refrain) Of the Jews on earth who made, Seditiously, with a spear that wound In His side: it was a cruel story.

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SEEKING RECONCILIATION

111

Treasure of a sprightly poet, look as well How great, my darling, was the mercy Of a virgin girl (faith is strong and noble), Annas daughter (great her progress), [A] fair gem, when Jesus, son Of holy Joseph, was derided: She did not (her words were [never] foolish) Bear malice or avenge with any word. There is no deadly sin, that snares a body long, Thats in its work more futile Than to live (great, awful scorn) In anger, girl of the hue of lovely Enid. Twice the colour of the sun, fair moon for long, Be peaceful, noble maiden. Do not (your godliness is beautiful) Be churlish any longer for so many words, My darling, with your poet Whos not low-born, [but] can be exiled. My golden [girl], allow apology And reparation, where denials not an option. Be joyful in your prayer: she of the hue Of powdered snow, [and] reconcile with me.

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1 Tegau, a lady often cited as a remarkable beauty. She was also famous for her loyalty and chastity. With the other two women cited in this poem (Dyfr, l.13 and Enid, l.50) she appears in a Welsh Triad (Rachel Bromwich, Trioedd Ynys Prydein (Cardiff, 1961), Triad 88, p.215), as one of the three splendid maidens of Arthurs court: Three Splendid Maidens of Arthurs Court: Dyfyr [i.e. Dyfr] Golden-Hair, Enid daughter of Earl (Y)niwl, and Tegau Gold-Breast. 8 21 22 28 33 35 darling: lit., soul the word is used as a term of friendliness in Middle Welsh. cheek to cheek: lit., forehead to forehead. Lit., That your fickleness is not a profitable love. Cybi: a sixth-century saint and founder of churches in north Wales. from me: lit., from my mouth. A reference to the tale of a blind man, Longinus, who pierced the side of Jesus when He was on the cross. He rubbed his eyes with the blood that came from Jesus side and was miraculously cured of his blindness.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

53

MORFUDDS ARMS
1

The girls hair, like the hair of Enid, Gold-adorned, stirs passion in me. That forehead bare part of a lily; Her hand is gentle, and is queenly. A modest maid, of gentle breeding, Gentle ways, of best upbringing. Her arms in leaf-tryst round a neck Made longing a compulsion, It was a thing to which hes not accustomed, And being allowed to touch her lips. Frail poet of the wine-bred girl With glorious hair, I was her captive once. Though mind doubts, there now is (A gift it was, and Gods my witness) A knot of love (although I may conceal it) Between us, surely; I am caught. The snow-white, courteous, shining arm Of Morfudd (of lively sun-bright features) Held me (that bold sin was easy!) Head to head in leaf-house nook. Good was that tall, fair girl of gentle, courteous growth Holding about me hands that loved me. A clasping it was of pure love Of the two wrists of a chaste, wise maid. My lot from such an eager journey? A brave collar of love, of secret joy. The poet, he was brightly yoked a fair-formed gem, The girls bright arm was less than heavy! Beneath the ear of the best man for praise The girl a collar placed (I know I cant refuse it!) Of lime-white hue, instead of a snow band (Thats a good gift on any mans neck) About the poets neck (that slender, tender gem): And there is one who knows it! It was good to see [the girl with] Tegaus hair Strangle a man in the bracken. And after coming together again, Golden lady, Wow for that torque!

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MORFUDDS ARMS

113

Deceitfully that enchantress bound me; [Long] life to the girl of magical praise Wholl keep (the way of her visitings splendid) Like a nurse, for me my pampering. It is not love for any man to mock me Between her hands suns likeness. I am fearless, bold of brow, no coward, Im black and have no cares With my steadfast girls two arms About me: is not a mead-drink good? I was drunk that was my pain Drunk on this strong [and] sharp-slim maid. Without my wrath my worlds a joy; That slender, tender girls arm[s] made me white-necked; A good breast-girdle for a long time, For me they were once my collar.

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1 Enid: one of the beautiful women at Arthurs court, see 52.1, 50. The word translated here and in l.35 as hair (W. twf ) literally means growth. 29 This line is also found in poem 144, l.18. 35 Tegau: a famous beauty, see 52.1.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

54

THE POET STATES HIS CASE


1

Ah! slender maid, heres my displeasure: After summer, woe to you for the gift! Its woe to me, fair lass, because This hard-wrought smithcrafts yours. Woe to that man, pursuing anger, That would chastise Jaloux. Woe to him who knows (with ache as of a flaming candle; Green his tears) the pain of jealousy. To your face I have made poems The trade is costly, [and] Im worried. My care is greater (a mans vengeance) Than the care of him in fetters In a stone rack (a cheerless wall) Who with his shining steel would kill the Pope, Lest the tale concerning you (deny [it] plainly, Resolutely!) bright, openhanded girl be true. Some say (in a most woeful way) A proud and valiant lad of splendid youthfulness (In eight ways am I affected!) favours you, In your tryst, for coupling with you. Though he be splendid, conscience radiant, And [he] a noble, proud, praiseworthy peacock, Before you take him (a peril thats long lasting) Remind yourself, you twin of Indeg, That hell not suffer (I am wrathful) The rain or wind (bright gossamer hue) That I endured seeking you (A barren show!) here or there, The many times in valiant [and] persistent trek I made to where you were. He wont go, [my] fair one, wandering By night, star-hue, for your sake Across entanglements of briars, [My] innocent [and] modest maid, as I did use to go. Hell not stay out (theres a slight damp!) Beneath the weeping roof of a [most] pleasant maid As (within memory, about to try A foolish hike) I stayed.

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THE POET STATES HIS CASE

115

Hell not put upon his cheeks This year as many floodstreams Of warm water in real earnest, (The Eigr of love) as I put on. Before lords he will not sing In praise of you till Judgement Day A hundredth part (hue of white, rough, shallow water) Of the canon of the song I sang. Our trysts you earnestly deny; Your answers are [most] foolish. If, for a long while, you will be Guilty with another clever one, The poets of the world will say To you, hue of a stone-forded stream: A twofold curse upon you, pleasant maid, When you (colour of flood-water breaking, My fair soul with gratifying courtesies) May make, [my] dazzling maid, bad mounting For your poet (hue of shallows sweet [and] bubbling); It was the younger partner had you!

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4 [i]s yours: lit., for the giving it to you. 6 Jaloux: the jealous husband. The main statement in lines 56 can also be translated as Woe to that man whom Eiddig chastises. 1214 May be a reference to Carlo di Rienzi, who was held in a papal prison in Avignon in 1352. 24 Indeg: a famous beauty, see 16.10. 35 a slight damp: lit., a slight flood. 36 the weeping roof: lit., the tears of the roof. 42 Eigr: another famous beauty, see 16.51. 55 I have translated the glan, bank in Thomas Parrys W. text (in the 1st and 2nd editions, 1952 and 1963) as gln, clean (which is how it appears in the 3rd edition, 1979, and all subsequent reprints); and I have translated it as gratifying in its context. 58 Lit., And your contemporary had you.

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55

REBUTTAL
1

The wanton maid (suns radiance) Disclaimed me with her easy oath. Most wrong it was (could be a favour) With earnest words to the [most] Holy Rood (Ah, my golden girl) [to say] that A naked part of mine did not Touch her [who is] like Enid (doubt is easy): A feeble, foolish oath let it be taken back. Yes yes hand, good troubadour; A favour for her poet yes, [you] mean mouth; Yes breasts beneath a good birch bank; Yes arms she wasnt wasteful! Your two feet were good trappings, Two hidden hues yes in the wood. Yes every sort of living thing, A pleasant tale, yes fornication! A worthless vow came from her mouth; Yes yes, God knows not of anything omitted.

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7 Enid: a renowned beauty, see 52.1, 50. 9 troubadour. The word in Welsh is teuluwas (teulu = household troop, or family + gwas = young man or servant). The poet of the household troop became a poet to the household, and could compose poems to the women of the court. It is likely that Dafydd is here referring to such a poet.

A MAIDS ACCOMPLISHMENTS

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56

A MAIDS ACCOMPLISHMENTS
1

The girl with a purple cloak, She wont be pledged to any man for long. The ash has covered eight hearths over: Aha, dark sleep, where are you? Its hard for me to sleep one wink Though God himself should sing a lullaby. I am sleepless (a wounds the lock), Ill have no sleep tonight. I harbour [in me] many thoughts (Forever foolish) of thing[s] that are not mine. The pain of anger: though Ill not Have it anon (naive it was to seek it), That is (the fair one she forbids me), A tryst with her who slays [all] poets. Its madness for a handsome, well-born poet, To think of having her; shes without sin, Knows how to thwart a mans successful trysting; The dark of brow, she caused me yearning. Shes free with that respect I do not seek: With loves commitment, miserly. Generous at home with wine freely flowing (Seagull colour): [but] with a tryst, ungiving. Free with gold at her [most] splendid feast[s]: Mean (modest gem) for any rendezvous. In action acquiescent, obedient in a mead-cell: [And] torpid for a tryst, and distant. Trusting in playing with him who has no go: Untrusting with the gaunt [man] who loves her. Unaverted, without wile shell keep her gaze On any man, she is like Eigr. Shes a poets flawless song, not frivolous, Of excellent repute, in speech not haughty. Of Dyfrs beauty; in my mind, the world: Not in any haste is she to be inside a tavern. The ruin of mens face and form; Not talked about, of good repute. In our land theres no one Proverbial as she is herself.

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118

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

There has not been, in our time theres not, And there wont be any one whos like her: Most bountiful, magistrates kin, She serves a feast, is a countrys sun, Shes noble, she is splendid, Shes slender-browed, a lovely maid, In doctrine [far] too pure, A gentle girl, of excellent civility, Who wins praise, who is [most] dear, Whos of good growth, is modest [and] is wise. She, moon of many, fostered my betrayal She of fine growth, quiet, prudent [and] black-browed. A Tegau of exquisite wisdom, More lovely than any woman was she.

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30 Eigr: a noted beauty, see 16.51. 33 Dyfr: another noted beauty, see 52.1, 13. 51 Tegau: yet another noted beauty, see 52.1.

THE GIRL FROM EITHINFYNYDD

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57 THE GIRL FROM EITHINFYNYDD The girl from Eithinfynydd, My lovely darling, will not meet me; With thin eyebrows, gentle eyes, Fine golden hair, a quick wild frown, My joy against dark thoughts of death, My young, my gentle goddess, My shining mirror, gold in colour, My lot, my golden girl, Beneath hill-buttress shes my treasure, My love for her grows ever greater. My treasure, little, gentle fine-haired girl, My precious, wholl not be had on any hill She wont seek the high hill-trees, Wont love who loves her, and wont play. Morfudd will not come to play, Will not [for] she loves Mary And loves saints (splendid, and of potent power), And loves God; she wont trust me! This fair maid (she is inconstant) Wont admit that shes so odd: Wont contemplate adultery; My maid, she wont have me, or any man! And I (my love) wont wish to live Without having the demure, splendid maid. For this, in great pain am I: Gentle Morfudd, I shall die!
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1 Eithinfynydd: there is a farm by this name not far from Llanuwchllyn in north Wales. 203 Wont: some of these should more properly be translated as would not. 25 in great pain am I: lit., I have endured pain.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

58 A GIRL TAUNTS HIM FOR HIS COWARDICE


POET:

[Ah!] sad maid, you pretty, slender lady, Dark-browed [and] wearing gold and precious stones, Consider (you Eigr with the augrim stones, Jewels beauty) is there for me [some] payment Beneath green leaves, (pure upbraiding clearly stated!) For what Ive sung in full and lucid language pure To your fine shape [and] your bright colour, You, eight times the glow of gossamer?
GIRL: Long will I do without you, Dafydd, Loves been dulled (you are at fault) Because you are (such acceptance of a hindrance!) Too much (right title [this]) a coward. No man will have me, [by] Gods graces, (Youre a strange one) but the bravest. POET:

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[Lady] with a fine-hair cowl, the colour of fine gossamer, You do [me] wrong, most cultivated maid. Though Im a courteous, polished lad Who, in battle, bare of breast, s a coward, Im not, where green trees may be, a coward In the work of Ovids book. And also, Eigrs parallel, Think on this (the pays direct Oerleaping pain!): its never good To love a valiant lad (its been a chilling bother) In case a warrior (it is not pretty To admit it) is too rough. Hell be wild and very boorish, Hell love war and love the cold. If he should hear (an earnest, tight compulsion) That theres a battle [up] in Scotland or in France (A brave adventure), in haste away There an enlisted man hell run. If he comes let us concede it and escapes From there (he can bridle [any] Frenchman),

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121

He will be scarred (a bowman tramples on him) And bloodied, O dazzling, glittering girl. Hell love there his heavy lance And sword (woe to the one who trusts him), His steel corselet, silly shield And war-horse more than any pretty maid. When a cry of anguish rises, hell not protect you, From your home its but by force hell seek you.

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And I, with my sprightly speech, If I had you, hue of bright, clear gossamer, 44 I know well (Id make a song immediately, Come [now], girl) how to protect you always. [And] even if I had [in] a tight grasp (You of the hue of Deifr) two kingdoms 48 (Twice the brightness of the sun) for all that Id not depart (Eight times more bright than daylight) from your resplendent home.

3 Eigr: a noted beauty, see 16.51. augrim stones: augrim is derived from an Arab personal name, and refers to a way of counting. Here, the poet tells Morfudd to work out his payment with the stones. 20 Work of Ovids book: that is, loving; for Ovid, see 6.16. 22 The Welsh tl in this line has been translated as payment; it can also mean forehead. 45 The Welsh trasyth has been translated here as immediately; it can also mean very straight. 48 Deifr: here the name of a noted beauty; unless the W. text should read Dyfr (see 52.1, 13), or dwfr (water). It has been suggested that the two kingdoms refers to the attempt by Edward III to win the crown of France, adding it to the crown of England, 132760.

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59

THE BIRCH HAT


1

Well kept are you, birch hat If this is true, then woe to Jaloux! Spoil of the woods, [and] trophy of a hundred trysts, A painted screen of the [very] topmost branch. Im very brave, [and] its no wonder: He who owns you heeds your worth! Wood-weaver, without fault, A mantle made of May-shoots leaves. A good construction, woven well, A store to me of mighty courtesy. God praises you ([youre] easy to praise long), A roof made out of meadow birches; A garland given by a bright-tongued maid, A band thats made of bright-green birch. A lean youth (though not forward) wears it, This handsome mantle-hood of May. Ill keep you wisely [and] unbroken, A crown against too warm a summer [day]. In a valley grown together, a vale of bright[est] green, Fine birch-trees, well-suited to a lad. Vigour of the love of a golden, splendid girl; Miracles and bounty of Mays gentle store. A caution against forgetting and care; A tent above a pure-white brow. Praiseworthy growth, well-prized of trees, A collar of thick-branching shrubwood. Its worth a song, a good roof of a leaf-grove, Green circle that is thankful that its worn. Of the artful hue of love, a sure portent, A belt of hair from fair [and] woody slopes. A goodly structure [and] not withered, By Morfudd Llwyd youre made and by her hand.

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1 birch hat: as the poem explains (l.3), a birch hat signified that its wearer had been to a hundred assignations with a lover. 2 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the jealous husband. He has cause for woe because the hat signifies that it was with his wife that the poet had his hundred assignations. 17 you: here the poet addresses the hat. 22 The Welsh mwyn means rich as well as gentle.

THE BIRCH HAT

123

24 pure-white brow: lit., an undark brow. 29 Of the artful hue of love: could be translated as, The artful lady of love. 32 Morfudd Llwyd: here Eiddigs wife, see 43.48.

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60

WAYWARD LOVE
1

There are some wholl raise at home A hare until shes sturdy Long-ranging cat, red-spotted cheeks, Wild-grey bag of wood-bog lair, Rock-hills daring treasure, flies in haste, Wandering-woman of undergrowth. A stranger still, although [well-]nurtured, Shell climb up hills and ridges. A squirrel, if it climbs to [any] tree-top, Will, to the foster-father, be worth less A bold betrayal! In a cracked lodging the betraying Dashers too far to be bothered by a bolt. A randy roebuck, that can in hazel leaves be hunted By a sturdy pack of hounds (a buck-like wizard!), Very wildly in an icy wind hell run [This] slender stag most swift his passage. A young roebuck, he used to run in Il, A bracken-laired young creature, very white his arse. An astute word: you used to come for me (Red chained), if you remember well (A special stag) from woods recess, When you were once a frail young deer. Therell be regret for taming them; The three dwell under branches. Deep trouble and the pain of rage They scorned the land that raised them! This is how a captive love (In front of me did she betray me) Did with me (a wise bedfellow) Or with another, she of gushing waters colour, Beams of the sun, bright finger of light, Precious linen on a bright white shirt And a fur dress (her cheeks are golden, Lowly Mary) from the shore of the North Sea. I raised this one (despisd work [and] Often broken) from the time she was eighteen;

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WAYWARD LOVE

125

I made poem[s] and adornments In attempting to appease her; A wily mystery despite all that The loved one was [quite] worthless.

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36 These lines are also found in poem 46, ll.1922 10 foster-father: is the one who rears the squirrel. 17 Il: Yale, a region in north-east Wales. 1922 Extremely difficult.

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61

THE WOODCOCK (A)


1

Was there ever (life-endangering event) Anything so hostile to an elegant lover As winter (coldest snow-tryst) Long, hateful, dark, [with] tossing trees? Between two towns his treks amazing, That cold lad, he is snows father. There wasnt one who didnt find It hard (ist easy to hide anger?) To wait for her sake in snow And shivering cold and ice at night. It would be easier to await her On a summer night in the woods castle, Listening to how pleasant is the tone Of the grey, unfeigning-sounding cuckoo; It is so different, in Mays woods On a sort of rendezvous (if one had it), From roaming awhile in a contrary way Beneath the eaves of my golden darlings house. On the next day, say that I (a need hard to attain) Had her (can she be had is doubtful!) In a cosy homestead hayloft, There would be fear, after winter night, That the young lad could not (a quick, imperfect escapade) Satisfy the young [and] lovely maid. We were prattling prettily (a resolute complaint), I and the lovely, shining gem; He caused fear (that spotty, bungling thief) And fright to my bright, pretty girl, That beak, that food-spilling, stirring beak, That grey and wrathful woodcock. A speckled bird of the doleful colour Of the winter birds is he. What he did (my worlds not well sustained) On his crutch (that snugly-filthy blanket) Was to set off [all] full of flurry (Lack-lustred wing) beneath the bush, And jumped up until he was In a black bush no help to me!

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THE WOODCOCK (A)

127

Such was the rowdy bustle on [the] hoarfrost Of the wings of that fat churl That we thought (it caused two angry protests, Sad were we) the wild rush of that mottle-garbd Needle-nose was the racket of Jalouxs Most feeble haste twixt court and grove. Near a dung-heap he went angrily about, Auger now of ice and muck. His long, deceitful tales amazing And foolish by the farmyard dung out there. He knows not, joyful on a soaring hill, Many notes nor any benefit to me, Nor songs ([so] says the splendid mistress) Through the groves top for a maidens sake, But only how to bear (sharp, fierce steel-work) That black lance that grazes dung. Mottled bird with gloomy wing[s], a briber, With his snare [that gives] no warning, May he (who turns with a red-freckled movement) have A solid bolt-blow from a spotty, exile lad.

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10 shivering cold: lit., shivering snow. 1518 Waiting in summer is different . . . From waiting in winter. 33 world: here this may be a term of endearment for his love. 43 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 48 I have taken the Welsh word maes to mean out [there] rather than meadow.

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62

THE HAYCOCK
1

Is my share less of sleeplessness Than [my] reward and gain by a maidens court? Its not easy [here] to hide or shelter And how brazens this black rain! Say that the door should open At night, Id not have risked it Lest with one word the girl should stop me In the haycock is it worse? It is my luck that youre the haycock, A dull, green, curly-headed clown. Good was that long-nailed rake That stacked you, yesterday, on land. I dressed you, a long mantle, Like a green cape upon a muses aide. I tried to make a bundle of you, Frail dovecote [made] of hay. Persistently with my tongue Ill praise you, Fleece of the lea good place to ponder praise. Exquisitely have you been formed, Of the same kind, you haycock, wide [and] grey, Of the same transgression as fair lords Are you, and of the same affliction. You have been cut with hard, blue steel, Meadow burgess, fat and squat. Tomorrow (thats your cheer!), hay, From your green field you will be dragged. The next day, above the tide of the fine hay, You will be hanged, and woe me, Mary! I shall commit your body home Right to the roof and [send] your soul to heaven. On Judgement Day youll see me Above the hayloft, like an angel, Coming [there] to knock upon the door: Haycock, is this the fitting hour?
18 to ponder praise: lit., to chew praise.

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THE MAGPIE GIVES HER COUNSEL

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63

THE MAGPIE GIVES HER COUNSEL


1

I, ailing for [my] golden girl, Was in a grove [and] singing of loves sorcery A snatch of fervent song one day When the sky was sweet in early April And the nightingale on green young branches And the blackbird beautiful on battlement[s] of leaves (A woodland poet, in a wood-house will abide), And the thrush was on a green tree-top, Before rain, singing fervently Her golden notes in draperies of green, And the lark, with [his] still voice (Grey-hooded bird [and] dear to me) was wisely calling And taking, in pure rapture, His song to heavens heights (From bare fields, this prince of birds, obeisant, Climbs home, ascending backwards); And I, poet of a slender maid, Was full of joy in a green grove (But broken-hearted and remembering) And my soul was green within me So pleasing was it to see trees A lively joy! showing off new dresses, And [to see] new vine shoots and new wheat After shining rain and dew, And green leaves on the valley top And thorn-trees [there] white-nosed [and] fresh. By heaven, the magpie, too, was there (Most cunning bird of all) Building (that bright betrayal) right inside A thicket, on its tangled top, Out of leaves and earth [a nest], With her mate giving of his willing aid. Muttered the magpie (a cry of distress!) Proud [and] sharp-nosed on that thicket:
MAGPIE:

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You, old man, whose song is vain and bitter, Here alone and in distress,

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Better far, by fluent Mary, for you to be By a fire, you grey old man, Than here in the rain and dew In the green grove in [this] cold rain.
POET:

40

Stop your chatter, let me be A short while till my trysting. Its [my] great love for a chaste, good maid That causes me this fretting.
MAGPIE:

44

Its vain for you (you serve your lust), Old, grey, immodest half-wit (A silly sign of loves pursuit), To mutter of a bright, young maid.
POET:

48

Magpie, you, your beak is black (Hells own bird, and vicious) You also have (false visitation) Your own pursuit and greater labour (Your nest is like a patch of gorse, Its dense, a dead-wood jumble). Feathers you have, pied, pleasant and perfect (A hell of a face and the head of a crow), Youve a motley, lovely colour (Your courts a shambles, voice a croak) And you, [on your] pied-black wing, Pick up afar all types of talking. You, magpie, with your head [so] black, If you are wise, then help me: Give me the best advice you know For this, my great affliction.
MAGPIE:

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I know the best advice [for bliss] For you, before May comes, its this: You, poet, have no right [at all] To a beauty; heres your counsel In serious verse: alas, you fool, Love no more, and be a hermit!

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THE MAGPIE GIVES HER COUNSEL

131

POET:

This is my promise, Gods my witness: If ever I see a magpie nest That she will, true, not keep of it An egg or any fledgling.

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22 showing off new dresses: lit., wearing new dresses. 508 Dafydd praises the magpie in the words he says to her, but displeased with her comments so far, he mutters unpleasant things about her sotto voce. The unpleasant asides have been italicized.

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64

THE WINDOW
1

I walked within thenclosures (My muttering was a trivial song) By the side (uncultivated lands) Of as I thought a girls bedchamber. Good to find, through the top of the groves branches, For a girls sake (a valiant, lovely maid An earnest loves a fierce thing to bear) A stout window on a piece of oak. Near a window between fennel and a row of roses At night [and] without sleep No ones been bothered as I have been bothered, With no lively joy with a bright, pious maid. I asked the maid (her face was loveliest) For a kiss through the little oaken window. The gentle gem (twas wrong of her) Refused me, did not want me. It was hard, where it was placed, For the age-worn window to bring sunlight. No old age for me if ever there was, By magic, any window just like this Except (the joy of twos amazing venture) That window in Caerllion long ago Through which Melwas, love-bewitched, Came without passions trepidations (A wasted look unbounded love) Once by the house of Giant Gogfrans daughter. Though I could stay, when it would snow, A while outside her window, Unlike Melwas I had no reward Its wasted cheeks: [now] theres a blessing! If we (I and my pretty gem-within-the-trellis) Were face to face nine nights, Without [any] small reward, without starlight, Without any joy between two pillars (Mores the frenzy) on each side of the white wall, Lips to lips (I and my proud [and] slender maid) We could not (my golden gem with open arms) Get [our] two mouths together.

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THE WINDOW

133

No two mouths at any time Can, through a narrow-pillared wooden window (My woeful death shut out from grace!), Kiss since its so narrow. The devil break with a dull tool Its pillars (that window like a lair), [And] with a sharp and full-blown frenzy Its broad shutter, its lock and key entirely, And he who made it (a master of frustration) And its row of prohibiting pillars; Smash the shiner that bars my striving And the hand, with saw, that carved it; Kill the crook that stops my bonding He kept me out from where she was.

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9 a row of roses: could also be translated as on a plain. 13 loveliest: lit., lovelier. 22 that window: lit., that one. Caerllion, Caerleon-on-Usk, not far from Newport in south Wales, where Dafydd locates the story of Melwas (l.23). 23 Melwas: according to the story to which Dafydd is referring, Melwas approaches the daughter of Gogfran Gawr (Gogfran the Giant, l.26), and speaks to her through a window. 26 Gogfran Gawr: Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), who became King Arthurs wife was, supposedly, the daughter of this giant. 49 shiner: refers to the glass in the window.

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65

THE BRIAR
1

A loveless course! I loved a Tegau, A tender partner (my memorys [my] grievance), A lovely [and] most pleasant armful, Proud largesse, no shallow love. No two ways I [then] decided (The memory keeps me sleepless long!) The reward of meditation (a faultless declaration) [Was] to make [my] way to love a lovely maid. A sorry way [this was] to love; There was, one morning, a feeble journeying [For] good largesse and loving labour Before anyone (hope is [so] pleasant Before youth begins!) from my parish knew Where I was set on going. It is not easy ([by] faiths golden treasure) To obtain right of entry to the manor To seek, where I had sworn (As far as I know it is not easy to find solace in distress [This] payment is worse, like a land tax), To see a maid Ah, pleasant riches! When I heard the praising of the loving fame Of the golden girl, I avoided any meeting (It will be secret, the skills good, There is reward for thinking!) with anyone at all. I left the peoples and their leaders Highways I made tracks elsewhere. I walked amongst [the] little oaks (I [well] recall) and the forts above the acres, From glens castle to the end Of a fair bypath between a church and hill. I went my way (most valiant love!) To find the shadow of the thick, dark wood. Across one briar, as I loitered For a maidens sake, I stumbled. Hindering [me] by a hill, it hurt me, That accursed gut of hedgerow; It tugs hideously, a strip of hindrance, A pestilential spectre!

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THE BRIAR

135

Above the bank its teeth were quick (Sign of disgrace) although its face was thin. It taught me, malignantly, to limp And it (of an unhelpful size) held on to me Back by the edge of [that] wild wood; It entangled my two feet. I had (I went awry, [its] heavy woe) A fall there (a swift accomplishments not easy!) On a glens top ([in my] earnest hunting) Head first [and very] swiftly. Shame upon that filthy [and] disgraceful thing, It ambushed [me], a poet; I have upon me (For what it did that foolish tugger It deserved no peace) scars of its thousand teeth, [And] savage scorn (the word is sharp!) Of lacerations on my legs. Its burden is accursed and frail The hue of useless-looking blackberries. A withe whose irritation is too thick (Wild pain!), and string for thickets hair. Its work, in itching woods, is hateful; A halter on a misers withered field. An earnest herons shank beneath stars constellation[s]; Grasping, worthless branches. It is a net-line [that is] spread out in anger, A snare upon a headland slope. It was a buckle set into a gateway, Tough gut-string of the valley woods. May fire (a chimney veil) soon burn That costly, tooth-covered [and] carved fury (It made for me a hateful profit!) To avenge my wrath.

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1 18 42 54 57

Tegau: a renowned beauty, see 52.1. [I]t is not easy to find solace [lit. magic] in distress, sounds like a proverb. of an unhelpful size: lit., of unsuccessful size. my legs: lit., my two legs. withe: a tough, flexible branch.

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66

THE CLOCK
1

In my way in early [morning], meaning well, Im singing since it is an easy time To the fair town by Rhiw Rheon Just by the rock and the round fort. There (she made her name in time gone by), There is a girl who used to know me. I send fair greetings here today To where that worthy woman lives. Every night, that wise and noble maid, Comes to me to greet me. When a girl sleeps, and shes exhausted, She is a dream, she hardly speaks. With my head upon the pillow Before daybreak there she comes (In broad likeness of a picture), A little angel in a maidens bed. Id imagined in my mind that I was down With my girl a while ago. The space between her face (I try to recollect it) And me was great when I awoke. Woe to that clock, just by the dyke, Black-faced that did awake me. May its head and tongue be useless And its two ropes and its wheel, And its weights, dull balls, And its casings and its hammer, And its ducks that think its daytime, And its ever-moving mill-wheels. A boorish clock [thats] like the frenzied clicking Of a drunken cobbler: let its time be cursed! A false, untruthful gut, A hound-cur gnawing on a bowl. Frequent-clapping in a cloister, A ghoul-mill grinding in the night. Was a saddler, scabby-cruppered, Or a tiler more capricious? Cold devastation on its bawling For fetching me from heaven here!

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THE CLOCK

137

At midnight [there] was I enjoying (A comfortable omen) heavenly slumber, In the long embraces of her arms, Hugged between the breasts of Deifr. Will such a vision this lands Eigr (Food for grief) be seen again? Dream, run the way again to her; Your journey wont be awkward. Ask the girl beneath the golden dome Whether sleep will come tonight to her To give a glimpse (ah! heart of gold, Niece of the sun) just once of her.

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The most difficult lines in this poem are lines 1113. They have been translated in various ways: When that exhausted a man might fall asleep (?) it is a Dream, it hardly need be said with my head upon the pillow . . . (Bromwich, 110) When a man sleeps (and fragile it has been found, Its a dream) scarcely does he speak: With my head on the pillow . . . (Loomis, 152). It is difficult to see to whom or what the lines refer. I take lines 1112 to refer to the girl. It follows then that in his sleep a man (Dafydd) may dream of a girl, but that girl must also be sleeping before she can be seen in a dream. Lines 1120. These refer to the sleeping maid who becomes a Dream. Her spirit appears to the poet, in the broad likeness of a picture (or image), as a little angel in a girls bed. Lines 2138. Dafydd is woken by the clock, which he satirizes in a series of negative images, and he is back here (l.38), in his bed from the heaven where he had been in his Dream. Lines 4550. Dafydd sends the Dream to the girl to ask her whether she will be asleep tonight so that he may see her. 3 Rhiw Rheon: this may be in the vicinity of Brecon, in mid-Wales. But there is no record of a clock there, or anywhere else in Wales in the fourteenth century. Yet this poem shows that Dafydd was acquainted with the mechanism of a clock. Had he seen one, or had this mechanism been described to him? Was he somewhere else singing . . . to the fair town, somewhere where there was a clock? 27 The ducks in this line appear to be the name for a part of the clocks mechanism. 30 The Welsh pryd may refer to face (or beauty) or, in this instance, to time. 42 Deifr: a form of Dyfr, a famous beauty, see 52.1, 13. 43 Eigr: another famous beauty, see 16.51.

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67

THE STAR
1

Im vexed for her of foam-white colour God only knows the minds of men! If, for love of her (my bright darling) I am compelled to make my way to her, Far be it from my mind to deputize A costly messenger yonder to her home, Nor pay a price to some shabby-working Importunate grey witch to bear loves message; Nor have before me lanterns, Nor waxen torches, when its late, For I prefer to sleep by day at home And by night I wander all about the town. No one will see me, no one know me (I am daring) till its day. I shall have, and without stinting (In case of straying) for myself tonight The candles of the Man who rules the world To guide me to that gem of lively beauty. A blessing on the Lord-creators name Who made the craftwork of the stars, So that theres nothing brighter Than the pure-white, round [and] little star. She is whiteness from the highest heaven, By her nature shes a candle, clear [and] shining. The candles beauty will not fade, Cant by deceit be stolen. No rush of autumn wind can quench her: Mass-wafer from the height of heaven! Coward-water-floods cant drown her, Watchful lady, [and] saints food-dish. No robber with his hands can reach her, Bottom of the bowl of yonder Trinity. No man dares, from where he is, Chase the [shining] pearl of Mary. She is, in all regions, light A coin of beaten, yellow gold.

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THE STAR

139

True buckler of the light is she, And image of the heavens shining sun. Shell show me without concealing (Proud-gold gem) the place where Morfudd is. From where she is [true] Christ will quench her And will send her (wont last long, That likeness of a loaf white, loved [and] perfect) Behind the shelter of a cloud to sleep.

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In Welsh a star is of the feminine gender and I have kept it so in English. 4 to her: lit., to her land. 28 Cf. this line in Welsh, Afrlladen o nen y nef, with 139.12 Maharen o nen y nef (Hes a ram from heavens summit). 36 coin: lit., gold piece. 42 I have changed the negative nid of the Welsh text to the positive neud. This is more in keeping with Dafydds obsession with the transitoriness of beauty. With the negative, the text translates literally as it will not be short.

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68

THE MIST
1

Yesterday, Thursday, a day for drinking, I had a gift its good I had it (An omen of great meaning for full love: Im lean on her account) [and] had A session in sweet branches with a maid Beneath the greenwood: shell allow a tryst to me. Beside joyful God the Father, there was (Bless her) no man who knew (As it was Thursday, at the break of day) How full I was of rapture Going to the land (to see her glorious form) Where was the slender maid, When there came, in truth, on that long moor A mist most like the night; Big parchment-roll that was a lid for rain [Came in] grey sheets to stop me; It was a tin sieve, rusting, The black earths bird-net; Obscure barrier on a narrow path, An infinite sky-blanket. A grey cowl that made the ground one colour, A cover over every hollow valley, High wattle-gates that can be seen, Great weal above the ridge, earth vapour. Thick-grey, white-grey fleece, weak-hanging, Of smoke colour, meadow hood. A hedge of rain to halt advantage, Coat-armour of a showers pillage. It would (its dark of aspect) deceive men, A shabby mantle over lands. Towers of high torment Of Gwyns Kin, winds province. Its two dour cheeks conceal the land, Torches making for the zodiacs. Darkness, thick [and] hideous You blind the world to cheat a poet. Wide web of thick and costly cambric, Thats spread out like a rope, A spiders web, French-market merchandise,

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THE MIST

141

Headland meadow of Gwyn and his Kin. There will be, often, speckled smoke, Vapour about the woods of May; Unsightly fog in which dogs bark, And ointment of the Annwn witches. Like dew, awkwardly it wets Earths dim undrying mail-coat. Its easier to walk abroad at night-time On moorland than in mist in daytime; From the sky the stars will come Like the flames of waxen candles, But in a mist Gods moon and stars Wont come pain of a dull promise. Boorishly the mist (twas unenlightened) Has always made me a dark captive. Beneath the sky it stopped my way, It is a dark grey veil that hinders [all] loves envoy[s], And stops me (to take quickly) From going to my thin-browed maid.

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7 Beside joyful God the Father: lit., Beneath the joyful God the Father. 20 infinite: can also be translated as clumsy. 32 Gwyns Kin: the spectral family, or the fairies of Gwyn the son of Nudd, King of the Other World (or Annwn, l.44); see also 26.40. 33 Its . . . cheeks: here refers to the mist. 39 French-market merchandise: lit., French-shop merchandise. Presumably the merchandise referred to here would have been materials hanging on display. 44 Annwn: not world, the Other World.

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69 MAY AND JANUARY The greenwood chorus hails thee, May, The summer month Ive longed for. A strong and loving, wealthy knight, The garland-green lord of desolate woods; The friend of love and [friend] of birds, Well-heeded by lovers [for] he is their friend; Herald is he of ninescore trysts, All affectionate, noble love-meetings. And, by Mary, its a great [thing] That May, unblemished month, is coming Intent, whilst claiming fervent honour, On conquering all [the] green vales. Shadows are dense, adorner of highways Hes adorned every place with his gossamer green. When he prevails, after war with ice, The meadow fort (that densely leaved pavilion) [And] paths of May (bird-chirping is my creed) After April will [all] be green. To the highest branches of oak-trees Come the songs of [little] bird-chicks; To high places in all parts the cuckooll [come], And songs and long [and] lively day[s]; And a white mist, when the winds gone, Will shield the midst of the valley; And there will be a living [and] a shining Sky at noon and gossamer green and lovely woods; And multitudinous birds in the trees, And fresh leaves on the young saplings; And Morfudd, my golden girl, will be On my mind, and the many thrills of loving. Unlike the stark and the dark month That keeps us all from loving, And brings short day[s] and dreary rain, And wind to strip the trees, And feebleness, the frailty of fright, And hail and cloaks long-trailing, And urges on high tides and cold, And grey floods in the streams,
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MAY AND JANUARY

143

And makes in rivers a great roaring; And makes day[s] angry and resentful, And the cloud sad [and] cold and heavy, With its colour concealing the moon. May all evil (such easy threatening!) Be doubled on this country bumpkin.

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1415 May comes like a conquering knight who has, for a time, conquered winter. He adorns the world with colour and joy. 30 the many thrills of loving: lit., the seven nine turns of love. 434 May all evil . . ./ Be doubled on this country bumpkin: lit., two-fold evil for his boorishness.

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70

A MOONLIT NIGHT
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Gods put forth perplexing matters All year round to thwart a man. A needy poet doesnt freely own The night, nor day nor anything. After tough[est] aggravation, no gain Is any nearer it is the night prevents it. The twigs of many groves are useless! Im ailing for one of bright and gentle growth. Generous Ovids man wont dare (I am her lover) Go there to her land by day. My gain nor treasure wont be great, I know, whilst it is a moonlit night. Im well used to waiting under fair, thick woods (My look is wan from fearing) for a tryst. The bright moons worse than [any] sun; Because it was so cold, the moon Was big [and] very wide, like a bright thing, Hard, cold weathers firelight. Glib blandishment; woe to us if she remains Woe to that thief who is observed! Was there ever anything worse (too strict a curse!) For a thief than a night thats fair [and] bright? A flower of daylights radiance On every new tip is unpleasant. Every fortnight her routine (Her home beneath the heaven is night) Is to take her course from there ([Now] theres a thought!), goes ever greater, This one, until shell be two halves, A sun on a bright night for the stars! She hurls the tide, a lovely light, She is the goblins sun[light]. Quiet Jaloux from his bed, Resolutely, by the light of the moon above Watches me here, near to him, In my lair beneath good branches. The florin was to him too helpful;

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A MOONLIT NIGHT

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Towards [her] heavenly home she climbs. For my caper shes too round, Spur-rowel of the icy wind. She is a discontented lovers hinderer, The scruff of a loaf of frosts. Summers arrant thief with her prohibition, She was too bright for a girls frolic. Her beds too high when its good weather, Up there a part of Gods [great] power. She (worlds candle) may see the spot Where Im concealed its from the sky she rises. The image of a close-meshed sieve, Her rim is familiar with lightning. In cloud[s] of heaven shes a path-walker, Like a thong, brass cauldrons brim. Her girdles as wide as the world, The refuge of the tame and wild are all [of them] one colour. Strength of a measuring-lamp of a star-bright field, Encompassing the bright blue heaven. A sunless day, [but] base coin came (It was annoying) to drive me from my cover. Bright-faced before [her] solemn, clear prime: Better for me if she might blacken it a bit! To send earnest messengers of love (No vain tale) to my golden girls abode, Whilst it may be night (bright, cosy, lovely) Let God the Father make it dark outside! It would be a fair rule for our Lord, By God, to allot to day the light, And give to us (that was our lot) The night, dark for [every] twosome.
In Welsh, moon is of the feminine gender and I have kept it so in English. 9 12 33 44 60 Ovids man is the lover; for Ovid, see 6.16. a moonlit night: lit., a bright night. Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. The Welsh hwyl, translated here as frolic can also mean journey. it: refers to the face of the moon.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

71

THE WAVE ON THE RIVER DYFI


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Happy, curly-headed, shrill-voiced Wave, Dont you stop me (lucky omen) from crossing To that land there, where I shall be rewarded, Dont detain me, do not hinder. Seditious water, for the grace of God (Who is King-Protector), let me over Dyfi. Turn back, home of three hundred nets (I am your poet); you are above high-water mark. With his mouth has any other sung As much praise to your lordly tumult (Sails companion, ocean gem, Curl of the sea) as I have sung? There was no mighty wind come from the zodiac, No stirring raid between [two] sturdy banks, No swift battle, no hardy branch, No man or horses shoulder That I did not compare it (I know hardship) To your own strength, strong, urgent Wave. Nor was there an organ or a harp, Nor tongue of man of faultless song That Id not judge it of such voice, You green sea-swell, as your great and lovely cry. I have no other way of saying Of my darling (treacherous luck) of Nyfs beauty But to call her bright loveliness And fair face by the name of your flood. Because of this dont stop me, Bright impaler of fresh-rippling, shining water, From going (my dear will condemn me) To Llanbadarn through that birch grove To a girl (generous, of the vigorous kind) who brought me (Gentle maid) from dead, alive. I am in [some] perplexity, You friend and rider of the sea: Youre a barrier between my land and me; With your nose stop, put a halter on the flood.

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THE WAVE ON THE RIVER DYFI

147

If you but knew, grey-mantled Wave (For a fish-shoal, you are a bright [and] fair love-envoy), How great my scolding for my tarrying! You are a cape for yonder shore. Though, for the like of Indeg, I have come, Fair Wave, right [here] to your breast, [Though] an enemy at war may never kill me, If you stop me from reaching my girls land Seven-score degrees of love will slay me! Dont keep me from my golden girl, [my] Morfudd.

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Rachel Bromwich has drawn attention to Ovids address to an Italian river swollen with melted snow which prevents that poet from crossing to visit his lady, Amores, iii, 6 (Aspects of the Poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, 72). 21 of such voice: I have taken the Welsh word cyfref as cy+bref (lit. so great a bleating/noise/voice) rather than cyf+ref (as mighty) because Dafydd is referring in this section to the noise of the Wave rather to than its strength. 24 Nyf: as a common name it means snow. Here it is a womans name (Irish Niamh), a heroine of Irish saga. 30 Llanbadarn: Dafydd was brought up in Brogynin in the parish of Llanbadarn in Cardiganshire. 41 Indeg: another celebrated beauty, see also 16.10.

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BETTER TO SEEK THAN TO KEEP


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Bravely, not silently do I, Every day, seek out a girl. That most deceitful Jaloux guards His lively little maid most gifted with good sense. Stoutly does he (oppressive-looking) Watch; stronger is he who seeks through Thick and thin than he who keeps his lovely girl From a roguish lad on a green hill-crest. It is not easy to keep a splendid, comely maid From a thief who keeps a crafty lookout. When I wait, my work is like That of a thief who concentrates his gaze. Stubbornly does he, it has to be admitted, Guard her he was wretched: More stubbornly do I (deep wounding of betrayal!) Try it out about the maid. A lover, from his admitted stance, Will not sleep if he seeks the one he loves; And if the maiden sleeps ([well] thats a wonder) Shes a genteel, lying lover, Her watchers woe (dull early riser), She (the sleepy head) will surely refuse [him]! As for gain from [my] great talent, I am, for Morfudd (great, proud gem), most like The horse that from his meadow sees The oats, but does not see the fencing; And I (without evading enemy) See that most chaste of women But do not see, a most bold claim, (She, fair bejewelled) her black husband. May Mary not behold that man [so] proud of speech, And he shall never-ever behold me. No pupil of an eye in the head of any king, A countrys lord, shall [ever] be more crooked! More triumphant, where he raises a blue sword, Am I than he; [for] he is scared.

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BETTER TO SEEK THAN TO KEEP

149

Ill wander in the precincts of my golden one, She of the brightest lineage, whilst I live. A chill upon me if I stay away from her Of the bright colour of the summer sun, Daring will be rewarded in spite of him, in an armed post, Who guards the girl of golden, lively brow.

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3 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 256 March a w}l yr }d ac ni w}l y cae (The horse sees the wheat but does not see the fencing) is an old Welsh proverb. 34 The poet wishes Jaloux to be cross-eyed.

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MORFUDDS HAIR
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God has placed (Im a good witness) Two braids upon a maidens head Of passions graces (they are golden, Lovely chains) to beguile two parishes. Gold torques and cherished produce Of light fruit, demure head-load A mans load, a braid of love, Bright it went above heads slant. A grove of wax, [and] nourishment for blameless men, A grove of golden flax, [now] theres an earldom! A lovely fullness in a string, A long growth that slays a man. Flax of a girl, best-loving, gracious, A grove of beaten gold, [and] strings of praise. She proudly bears (unfrowning, slender girl) A sheaf of broom (a lovely, comely maid) In round braids, as a worthy, lovely, Modest crown of woven, golden colour, As a mantle, a collar of fine hair, [All] topped and branched with gold. A shining gift, she bears red gold Upon her head in ropes of gold To charm poets of the highest rank: That she lived was this worlds joy! The girl received a noble gift: The talent of the one with shining, lovely hair Was greater still compared with Cynfrig Cynin, Son of curly-locks, grey, irritable, spotty. A scruffy dolt with scabrous neck, Whose head is bald where it is wholesome, Half-drunk, needy, randy beggar, His cheeks a blister pouring sweat. His barren hair (acknowledged Jaloux, Wild [and] foolish) was [quite] unlike The grove plaited gently, faultlessly Upon the head of Morfudd Llwyd.

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MORFUDDS HAIR

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27 Cynfrig Cynin: Morfudds husband, who is also called by other names. 33 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 36 Morfudd Llwyd: see 43.48.

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74

SECRET LOVE
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Ive learnt to snatch love suddenly Urbane, clandestine, costly. The best way with goodly words is To have leave to tell of secret love. Such is the torment of someone with a secret! The best secrets a mans love. Whilst we (the girl and I, a frivolous pair) Were amongst the masses, There was none (with unmalicious gossip!) Who imagined our responses. With our trust we were once able To dally long together. Now, in stricter mode, we have Through slander but a pittance of three words. Ruin on the one with evil tongue With a knurl of torment (the mark of evil fate), Rather than [that] words of slander should be cast On us, of blameless reputation. Most pleased was he, had he warning [of us] While we, in hiding, shared [our] secret. I walked the homeland of the golden girl Whilst leaves were green I worshipped leaves. Ah girl, [how] sweet it was to spend our time, Brief moment, beneath a grove of birches. Sweeter still was it to wait together, Hide together in a haven in the trees, To walk together on a pebbled beach, To pause together by woods edge, Plant birch together (joyful task), [and] Braid together comely feathers of the trees, To talk of love together with the slender maid, To gaze together over solitary fields. A blameless pastime for a girl is it To walk the wood together with her lover, To keep face together, smile together, Laugh together lip to lip, To tumble down together by a grove, To shun together people, make complaint together,

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SECRET LOVE

153

To be together genial, together to drink mead, To share love together, lie together, To keep our secret love together Faithfully: there is no more to tell!

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4 secret love: the W. word lledrad means stolen but I have translated it as secret to suggest the convention of secret love. 1516 Ruin . . . with a knurl of torment: probably means damnation to the torments of hell. The word torment is picked up from line 5.

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TO WISH JALOUX DROWNED


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Today there went not shabbily With Rhys, to guard the bounteous one, Brothers in faith and foster-brothers And friends (my longings sharp) Of mine, to fight against the French (From the South may Mary bring them back!); Noble, proud hawks, breach-roving, Leaders [and] fellows in battle. Revild son, there is a hornet With you, men, if you allow it, An enemy (with no belovd) To a girls poet and all the poets of the world. He is an eye (he wishes anguish) And an ear upon a hundred hedges; And a lying-betraying, dull-minded horn, And punisher of woman, her catchpole. Call to mind how many times from a disastrous, Dolorous death have I fled in the past From him (that empty elder-basket!) And his kin like gangs of reapers. May he have in his hand a pile Of devils shit, he and his brood. If he, the quintessential pig, delivers up his soul To the grey, wild barque upon a vicious tide, She wont stay calm for long, [With] her sails shape [so] full of brine. May her headgear be white-gleaming current, Gascon mare of the turbulent channel. She will not move, she will not sail With that wretch, that scoundrel, in her. Let him be shoved, that beavers arsehole, Overboard [just] off the shore. Ah! generous wave, sea-waters wing, Id owe to you a payment, Niece of the shore, the sea-homes wonder Dont let that wretched ancient back! May the seas stream-arrow, ebbs impaler, Nine waves titbit suck him to her.

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TO WISH JALOUX DROWNED

155

From wave to wave (a quicksand bird) If babbling blackie goes to France May all the fast-snares that exist [And] shackle[s] perpetrate his death. You, of staunch, steadfast profession, Think of killing him, do me good, And dont allow the hollow boat To part me from [my] Southern gem. And you, crossbowman, canter (Hurler of good wood-matter) and cast With the wood of a short-stirruped bow, And shoot (if he sulks what ist to you?), Pierce the thief [right] in the temple: May the dream be ghastly, [and] easily [be done]. Run him through, dont miss at all, With crossbow pierce him with a second thrust. Youll recognize, [you] straight-armed shootist, His straight, thin-bristled beard An unkempt beard of fennel, heather-clump: The day will come, good would it be to take him! His stay away there gives us joy, Let him have twelve misfortunes! The poets free, and this is fine: May he not come back home again. That jealous snout thats marked with envy, Unpleasant face, if he attempts to come, [Then] that black bandit will come home Because the enemy (complaining loudly) wished it.

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The poem refers to an expedition of Welsh and English soldiers to fight in France. Jaloux (the jealous husband) had joined an expeditionary force which included Sir Rhys ap Gruffudd, of south-west Wales, who died in 1356. He served in France in the early 1340s and took part in the battle of Crcy. This poem was probably composed about 1346. Dafydd was related to Sir Rhys; he was the son of a cousin on his mothers side. 2 the bounteous one: seems to be a historical reference. 28 channel: or, middle waters.

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76

AGAINST PUTTING ONES TRUST IN THE WORLD Ive had bad luck (the rage of indignation!), Shame on him who made me fail! And he is (wont risk a scare) The thieving Jaloux, Jewish bumpkin. He left no wealth (no help at hand) In my possession: Gods made demands on me! I once was friendly, of a lively line, Free, wealthy, well-endowed. I bid farewell to worthy joy; Now, [with] mind inflamed eightfold, Im poor. Bounty, as is the way of shiftless love (Im not to blame) brought me to nought. Let a handsome, upright lord not set His heart upon the ever traitrous world. A foreign youth, if he [does so] indeed (Worlds let-down), he will be betrayed. Wealths an enticement, and a foe, A vicious brawl and mans betrayer. At times it comes, [all] haughty yonder: At other times, in truth, it goes, Like the ebb at the shores edges, After tide of song and feasting. A prudent and sweet blackbird laughs In a green grove, a splendid place for singing. Fruitful soils not ploughed for him (Fresh is the seed), he does not plough. And there is not (a little bird with little legs) Of all babbling any livelier. He is happy, by Lord God, In a wood grove making song[s]. Most happy of all, most privileged of mind are they, The minstrels, who with [their] staffs keep time. I shall weep, most mournful lord, Tears of reproach, call for the dazzling maid; And Mary (whose praise in words persists) Does not know [a time] that I wept tears for wealth
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AGAINST PUTTING ONES TRUST IN THE WORLD

157

Since there is not (fair, pleasant custom) A Welsh land that is Welsh in speech Where I if Im a bright-tongued, fervent youth May not have payment for my work; There never was of all her friends Beneath suns border a girl like her. Of my candle Ive been cheated, Morfudd, hue of daylight, Llwyd.

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4 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 248 Here Dafydd refers to an old englyn (orthography modernized here): Chwerddid mwyalch mewn celli, Nid ardd, nid erddir iddi: Nid llawenach neb na hi. (A blackbird laughs in a grove, It does not till [the land], its not tilled for her: No one is happier than she.) 32 This line refers to poets keeping the beat of their poems with a staff whilst declaiming their compositions. In the sixteenth-century document called The Statute of Gruffudd ap Cynan there are references to stick-end declaimers who accompanied their presentation of poems with a staff rather than a harp. 33 The Welsh word bryn in this line usually means hill; here it means a lord. 36 Lit., Knows not that I wept tears for wealth. 44 Morfudd Llwyd: Llwyd may be the family name of Morfudds father. As an adjective it means either holy, grey, blue or green.

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77

SUSPICIOUS MIND

DAFYDD: Morfudd, comely [and] unfaithful, (Scorns visitation), woe me, is it true That again because of passion, you, my dear, Have renounced your little lover, Who I know, from his birth onwards (Fair Eigrs niece) does not dislike you!; And that youve cast (to find sorrow) From your mind the woeful one who loves you, Because of love, thats too much mentioned, Of him snake sinews: is [all] this perjury? MORFUDD:

It is not true swearing [it] will not avail: Renouncing did not cross my mind. By the Man in state of sorrow, Dafydd, [He] who suffered, I would love more the print in woodland (A happy hunting) of your swift foot Than my gloomy, miserable husband, Or all that to his cheeks belongs!
DAFYDD: Youve brought warmth to my cheek and colour, Great proud lady; well done Morfudd! A wise mans time [and] time for verse Will, after black snow, follow. I did not seek to scare [you]: Dont in your time live with your spouse. Dont give him, black, surly Jaloux, Of a line of quacks, cause to rejoice. May I not have wealth from God on high If you receive my favour, if you will reconcile.

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2 The Welsh word gwawd here translated as scorn could also be translated as song. 6 Eigr: a famous beauty, see 16.51. 25 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband.

HIDDEN LOVE

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78

HIDDEN LOVE
1

I am (this is a cause of anger) A thief of secret love. Wild birds whose praise is pleasant, Whose natures strange, build nests. And what they do beneath the leaves All interwoven, [is make] a twine of twigs In untrodden place[s] [and] away from crowd[s], By sound good sense is breed. In the same way [and] in like manner To that bedmate of sorrow, Love built (the memorys confined, Unwise [it was]) a nest in me; And my two sides, by my God Jesus, Still hide it: it was a fruitless task. They are twigs (whose ways most painful) In the side of this fine, proper lad. Ill keep singing, although I may complain, And my heart is ever passions nest. Love for the lovely shining maid will not Be brought out from its nest, wont be deceived. That villain Jaloux will not chance Upon this nest (harsh, naked man) And I shall not be bothered if he (A straight-shanked giant) may never find it out. I, a lively poet, indeed am [very] certain That it never will be known. If she, the tender-looking, wont By wicked slander (a ready turn) enforce me, A hearts thought and sad breast Will hide there in confinement. Wherever (two passions not constrained, [Or] so it seemed) I may be within the house, With a look beneath the slenderest eyebrow she, Who brings to mind fine summer day[s], beholds me. Wherever I may be ([this is] a venturers vow) I ([who] am an angel!) see her, Her laughter which finds love, And her beckoning on her slender brow.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

I exchange looks, I dont deny, With my love more than this Im not allowed! Her look went (the gem of Wales) And her love in [full] bold flight (That slender, white, foam-bodied, lovely girl) Through my breast and heart and body Like a round arrow (fair [and] perfect armful) Goes through a withered stubble sheaf. The bountiful abbot Beuno, who wanders [all] about, Will never let [all] this be known. If it is ever known, Ill be A woeful Welshman outside the land of Wales.

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21 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 47 Beuno: a Welsh saint, who died c.642, and who is commemorated widely in the churches of his cult in north Wales.

MORFUDD AND DYDDGU

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MORFUDD AND DYDDGU


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Woe me, I am the [very] image of misery, That I did not know, without delaying, The love before her age for marrying Of a gentle, splendid, good and slender girl, One well endowed with talent, true [and] wise, Well skilled, dear, likeable, refined, With speech like an inheritor of land, Most wild [and] pampered, truthful, Round and firm, not rowdy, Full of talent and of learning, Fair and lovely, an Indeg of bright passion, An untilled land (and I an ox!), A lover not inconstant, A golden bough, and bright of brow, As is, in the broad rite of praise, Dyddgu of the curved, black-coloured eyebrow[s]. Morfudd, she is not like that, But like this: a red-hot ember, Loving those that scold her, Unwilling lass, exasperating; Possessing (with a right respect) A house and husband; a very lovely woman. Not more infrequent is it for me At midnight, because of her, to flee From a man from her place beneath bright glass Than in daytime I am a sturdy jumper! And the earnest, foolish-babbling spouse, Clapping one hand against the other Gives, every day, a shout (lustings easy!) And cry for the taking of his childrens mother. A weakling; for his shouting, To the devil with him! Why should he wail (Ah! Woe to him such ceasless bawling!) To God for the spell laid on a woman? A broad and bold, long-yelling lout: The book of his deceivings one of foolish travail!

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

What he did was cowardly and strange, Crying for a lively, slender girl. With his words, The kite of maiden[s]! He will awake all of the South. Its not graceful, its not pleasant, It is not nice to hear; its not seemly For a man to shout (a screeching horn) A song like [any] crows [song] for her brother. He of lying mouth and sleepless bawling Was one bad man for lending! Were I to buy (bright, perfect thought!) In my life a wife (a step fraught with deceit), For an hours peace I would give her To him, obnoxious cocksman (its his part), Because he is (his fates the woe of widowhood) The bitter man so bad at this amusement. In a word, my choice is this: Dyddgu for loving, if she is willing.

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4 11 14 25 35

girl: lit., a young sheep. Indeg: a lady noted for her beauty, see 16.10. bough: can also mean descendant. beneath bright glass: presumably, beneath bright windows. lout: lit., a foolish young animal.

JALOUX S THREE PORTERS

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JALOUXS THREE PORTERS


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The three porters (surge of wrath, There was trouble!), Jalouxs helpers three They were appointed to cause great fright to me, Twas hard luck for me to meet the three. The first of Jalouxs porters in that place Of persistent hatred and wrath, [that is] the gates And a gift to him was a bold, roaring-lion, coward-adhering dog (I was seriously insulted) of a ferocious shape. The second porter is the door, raging (Woe to anyone near it) and squeaking. The third (I know daily penance!) Who hinders me from having any luck at all Is a pestilent, scabrous, wrathful witch (Her time will come!), Jalouxs faithful servant. If the night were as long (were she in heaven!) As ten nights (unrestful crone) She wont sleep one hour in a rough, lousy lair Because her bones are [so] unhealthy. She complains early and debilitatingly About her thigh (her shape is wretched) and her hand, About pain in her two elbows, About her bruised shoulder and knee. The night before last (black night of wrath) I (clumsy to the degree of a talent) came To Jalouxs patch, [and] certainly intent On visiting a splendid moon of a gem. A poets trap! As I was making, With no worries, for that black door, A ruddy dog (intent to leave his mark on me) Jumped from the pigsty at me. He challenged me, exceedingly severely, Took a great bite of my cloaks horse-hair. The mans dog tore to shreds (fort wrath!) A disappointing insult my cloak entirely. I pushed the oak door (bowl-clatter!), It became ferocious; It shouted like geese gaggle Pardon me if I risked it to shut it!

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

This is a portent that makes the muse to blush: I could hear the witch (an omen even worse!) In her nook insisting (was this not serious?) Feverishly to the man of the house upstairs: The heavy door is opening, [and] by heaven The dog is making the most mighty din. I moved backwards peevishly To the doorway, with that stinking dog behind me. I ran (I didnt hang about!) By the wall (I know that I turned cold!) Outside the fort (clear, fair and gleaming) To await the shining gem. I shot through the wall ([so] pain-procuring) Arrows of love at that slim girl. And she, from her obliging, gleaming breast Shot at me love-greetings. Pleasant it was to be (love wont disappoint me!) On the wrong side of the wall from this slender girl! I complained, gave vent to my wrath (I just had to) before the door of Jaloux. Though that man (cant get a lay!) And his giant hedge, his witch and dog (Tightly, rightly he holds on) keep me From his ( Jalouxs) home and household, Freely God gives meadow[s] to me And trees with low-hanging branches.
556 These lines are, of course, sarcastic.

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SPOILING THE GIRLS COMPLEXION

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SPOILING THE GIRLS COMPLEXION


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The one I called my golden girl, And my bright, dear, clear [and] modest maid, Its in my mind (a harsh but proper judgement) Through Gods strength to strive against deceit To remember (the [wide] world greets me) To have done with her the birches call her. What good to me came of pursuing her? Let this be the right time to ditch her. The girls colour (strict reproach) Since many a day has been blemished. I can not (its not within my power) Nor can anyone do any good to her colour. Im of the opinion (and that is my pain), Indeed I know (and thats more painful) What breath it is and more besides That entirely impairs her two cheeks. Obedient Enid! It is Jalouxs breath From his black mouth that does the damage, After he lets out (pernicious act Of a most irksome man) about her (She of Eigrs beauty) [his] breath Like smoke from turf. Why does she not wash it off? It is a pain, [just] like an iron shackle, To leave this scoundrel with the girl. An image of alder-wood under [its] varnish, A piece for a lord, of an Englishmans carving Kept without care, [and] crookedly placed A bright lamp will ruin it all. English fur thats fine enough Will, in turf smoke, be blemished. Fog in the sky will take away completely From the splendid sun its colour. A spreading oak-tree, a weft of wood, By a sea shore will wither.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Ive roamed (a lively betrayal of meeting together) Each of her homes whilst she was fair. Loves stewardship is strict only Whilst there may be beauty, its not a patrimony. He well knows how to make her face Unloved she was my darling! Cold Jaloux, that black dog, Would prefer the girl not lovely. Ashes from his mouth have tainted The colour of my little, gracious, pretty maid. By God and Cadfan, there was need For a preserving grace: she was most beautiful.

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17 Enid: in Welsh romance the wife of Geraint ab Erbin. She was beautiful, and extremely patient with Geraint. See 52.1, 50. Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 21 Eigr: the beautiful mother of Arthur, see 16.51. 45 Cadfan: a fifth-century Welsh saint. He founded the church at Tywyn in north Wales. Llangadfan in Montgomeryshire is named after him.

BEGGING FOR HIS LIFE

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BEGGING FOR HIS LIFE


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The bright girl whose neck is golden From Mn was once so gentle: In your country there is now no hope For me (girl eight times as white as any wave) For free land, by Saint Deinioel (Ill-fated passion!), because of breach of peace. Too bad for me I did not think If I had you thattempt would be unwise. I had no gift nor message, Just my death the worse for my well-being! Not to have you (so well gifted) made me sad: I am more sad, eight times more thin for having you! Woe me for what you did (a costly feast-day): You wanted me when I was loving. You were mad for not refraining: Your dear might did me no good. You urged that I be hanged If I were found; you did not want me. It would be a wonder if the Pope of Rome Had been with you, my slender blessedness. Take, in secret, what youll see; Reconcile for this you splendid, lovely maid, Go, slender girl, accept a fine; Gentle maiden, drop your charge. We were playful (wrong confining): Our playing had a bitter ending. If you were, tall slender maid, Well pleased with me beneath green birches Do not cause, wave-complexioned, lovely girl, The womens darling to be hanged Instead, you angry betrothd, Of causing Jalouxs execution. Proud Gwenhwyfar, in Mynyw And in Mn you deserved my rage. My dear, I have been inside you, And to me its bitter that Ive been.

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Thomas Parry pointed out that there are several legal terms which reflect medieval Welsh judicial processes in this poem. The judicial argument goes like this: Whoever betrays a lord will lose his patrimony, and will lose his life unless he and the lord can be reconciled by paying twice the amount of the usual fine. The offender could appeal to the Papal court and produce a letter from the Pope showing that he had released him from his legal obligations. In that case his patrimony would be restored. According to the girl in this poem Dafydd has betrayed her and so there is no hope for his free land and he is in fear of being hanged. It would be a wonder if the Pope had been to the maid to plead for his deliverance the hidden insinuation is that he ought to have forgiveness without such Papal pleading. Dafydd asks for a reconciliation and requests the girl to settle for a fine and to drop her charge. Dafydd would rather that Jaloux, the girls (jealous) husband, be hanged. Mn: Anglesey. Deinioel (Deiniol): a sixth-century Welsh saint. See 50.35. The word translated as death could also be translated as blow. There is a deliberate double entendre in Had been with you. wrong confining: the Welsh here, gam gae, is ambiguous; it could refer to Dafydds jailing as well as to a womans confinement when she is expecting a child (W. gwraig ymron ei chae). 28 Well pleased: could be translated as Satisfied. 33 Gwenhwyfar: Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Mynyw: St Davids, Pembrokeshire. 2 5 10 20 25

JOURNEYS FOR LOVE

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83

JOURNEYS FOR LOVE


1

For a girl has any one (loves tyranny) Walked what I have walked? [Through] ice and snow, and wind and rain (That kind of loving!) for a bright-faced lass. I had only weariness attendance, No two feet had, ever, more vexation [In going] (to profit on the golden ones disdain!) Over Eleirch, to Cellaur Meirch, Straight onward in that barren land Night and day no nearer a reward! O God, how loud in Celli Fleddyn Is the shouting of a man! For her sake I was [there] declaring [And] professing love for her. Bysaleg, a short and narrow river (its flood Enclosed and boiling) sounds low and hoarse: Very often, for her sake, Id wade daily through it. And Id go, proud and free, to Bwlch My deep pain Meibion Dafydd, And away as far as Gamallt And the steep for the one with lovely hair. Quickly I would make my way Forward to Gyfylfaens narrow pass To cast my eye along that goodly vale For a girl in fur apparel. She cant turn this way or that In stealth to pass me by. Resolute was I, not slow Along Pant Cwcwll in the summer, And round Castell Gwgawn Bent like a goose-chick finding stalks. I ran by Adail Heilin With a husky hounds [most] weary gait. I stood below the Court of Ifor Like a monk in choirs stall, To try (no guarantee of gain) To meet with precious Morfudd.

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There is no hill and no deep dale On either side of Nant-y-glo, That I dont know, and without book, By the passion that excites me a lively minded Ovid: For me its [very] easy whilst shouting through my fist (True mark of profit) [to come to] Gwern-y-Talwrn Where I was allowed to see (dear gift) A delicate maid beneath the blackest cape, Where there is forever to be seen With no growth of grass, no growing trees The shape [there] of our arbour beneath the pleasant boughs, A place of broken leaves, like Adams way. Woe to that soul without reward If from weariness, [and] without pay at all It turns exactly the same way This wretched body went.

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This poem has been discussed in detail by R. Geraint Gruffydd, Love by Toponymy: Dafydd ap Gwilym and Place-Names in Nomina, 19 (1996), 29-42. I have chosen his title rather than A Love Journey. I have followed him in printing the place-names in italics. Professor Gruffydd has suggested more identifiable place-names in the poem than Thomas Parry, see below. All the place-names mentioned are probably to be found around Brogynin, near Aberystwyth, the traditional birthplace of Dafydd. 22 the steep: Geraint Gruffydd has substituted this with the place-name Y Rhiw. 24 Gruffydd has Gafaelfwlch y Gyfylfaen. 35 Court of Ifor: Gruffydd suggests another place-name, Llys Ifor. This Ifor is not Ifor Hael. 42 Ovid: the poet compares himself once again with the Latin love-poet; see 6.16. 54 This wretched body: lit., The wretched body

A GIRLS CHARM

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A GIRLS CHARM
1

Diadems, the chains of love, And praise in song, [my] sprightly girl, And gold (I know how to appease you) In your court did I put into your hand. Lack of sleep, bright splendid maid, and wounds And blighting tears (O eyes alive with passion), My enemies, audacious claimants (A great crowd) were my reward. Id call you, Countess of snows brightness, Whose complexion was fine parchment: Youd call me and to my face, With daring slander Ugly knave. And I gave you, the hue of falling snow, An exquisite web of silk: Youd not give me, fair maid with whitest teeth, The slightest, smallest thing. The pangs of love worse than saints know I acquired through vexation. You are a splendid girl, and I am Gwaeddan: Worse and worse is passions commerce! You sent me the self-same way That Gwaeddan once went for his cap By enchantment and some obstructive move And magic, through deception. With false behaviour and with frequent Lack of courtesy you disappoint me. A radiant girl, of gifted nature, In cheating perfect; youre from Dyfed. It was not any school of magic, Nor playing at deceit (restricted subject), Nor [any] of Menws enchantment, nor frequent longing, Nor betrayal of men, nor splendid battle, [Nor] strange apprehension, [nor] wild aspiration, But your own magic, your own word. Three warriors (this will turn to wealth for me) Knew magic before now: Well versed in war (retaining his first name), The first, most gentle [man] was Menw;

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And the second (enlightenments good day) Was Eiddilig Gor, a wily Irish man; The third, by the seas of Anglesey, Was Math, lord of the golden kind, the king of Arfon. On festive days I travelled With all poetic art (a bad exchange!) Seldom do you keep a tryst, It is like Llwyd fab Cel Coeds war. Well do you deserve, fair one whose judgements wise, A silver harp, betrayals string. You will be known, as long as man may live, Thenchantress of the lively harp. You will gain fame (a well-considered word, A prophecy) [as] the harpist of deceit. The harp was fashioned By a degree of passion (you are a golden girl), On it is carved a [great] degree of hindrance, Engraving[s] of excuses and deceit. Its top (its of wild wood) Is shaped by Virgils magic. Its pillar, of true enchantment and of sharp desire, Will be the very death of me. Its pegs are [fashioned] of deceit, Inconstancy and flattery and falsehood. Your hands, for plucking at the strings, Are worth two lengths of gold. Ah, what a splendid song (O lady fair, refined) Can you make of a smart metre. A craft (long magic), so they say, is better (Colour of a dazzling gull) than wealth. Accept from me (betrayer of many, Of snows beauty, candle of the Land of Camber) Fortunes gift, (you of demure honour, Colour of a swan) [and] honour of the festive day.

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This poem says that the girl has magical powers of deception, and that she would be extremely successful in any competition on a festive day if she were playing her harp of betrayal.

A GIRLS CHARM

173

19 Gwaeddan: obviously a character in a tale, in which he lost his cap, or cape. 28 Dyfed: south-west Wales. Dyfed is associated with enchantment and magic because of the Third Branch of the Mabinogi (see also n.46). 31 Menw: son of Teirgwaedd. In the medieval tale Culhwch and Olwen he has magic powers. 33 I have translated the Welsh text wyth (eight) as {yth (wild). 38 most gentle: could be most noble, cf. gentleman. 40 Eiddilig Gor: his name can be translated as the weakling midget. The poem tells us that he was an Irishman, but no more than that is known about him. 42 Math: son of Mathonwy, a king of Gwynedd and a powerful magician according to the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi. 46 Llwyd fab Cel Coed: Llwyd fab (son of) Cil (not Cel) Coed, a magician, in the Third Branch of the Mabinogi. 48 A silver harp: probably the prize in some kind of poetic contest. 57 The Welsh text has nid (a negative): I have chosen neud (an affirmative) as giving a more appropriate meaning. 58 Virgil was regarded as a magician in the Middle Ages. 65 The Welsh text has wangerdd (weak song): wengerdd (splendid song) seems to me more appropriate in this context. 70 Land of Camber is Wales.

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85

DISAPPOINTMENT
1

I gave a fickle maid my love With hardly any profit. I was sorry that I loved A faithless girl (she was my anguish) As I loved the delicate-hued, Colour-of-the-daylight Morfudd shes no concern of mine! Morfudd, my darling, did not want, Any more, to be loved. Ah, the way of it! In loving that girl, in constant pain, Ive wasted a number of good song[s]. Ive wasted rings on fair [But] futile minstrels Woe me, wretch! Wasted what precious gems I had [on] a face Thats like a gush of rough foam on a weir. Ive wasted (not like a man whos sharp) For her sake jewels that I had. I called (weaving [songs] with skill), In wine-taverns, [and] God will judge this true; I called also (shallow living) In taverns (too hateful!) of mead-horns. By passions true endeavour I Had her song composed and sung By minstrels to the farthest part of Ceri For her sake, the colour of fine snow. She gave to me her trust: In spite of this (she was my maid) I had (apart from withering care) No agreement for me [and] no payment, But that she (two times the hue of snow) Went (bad deed) beneath another, To be made (no labour to advantage) Pregnant: my darling little maid. In whatsoever manner this was done To vex me, she was seduced Be it by love or be it by force (A graceless judgement) to leave me;

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DISAPPOINTMENT

175

They call me sorry cuckold (fie that call!) Because of her, the colour of a bubbling brook. Some put into my hand, as signs, (In my heart there is great fear) Twigs (better were they burnt) Of green hazel: it was no fault of mine. Others give me (a reason for vexation) A willow hat about my brow. Morfudd, not by my asking, Caused this without one hours love; Between me and her, whose face is gossamer, May God give, at last, true judgement.

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10 The word translated as wasted in this line and others that follow can be translated as spent. 23 Ceri: a commote in Powys, in the border country. 412 This refers to the custom of giving hazel twigs to a disappointed lover. 44 A willow hat or crown was given to signify widowhood or misfortune in love.

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86

THE OATH
1

I love (work of wild, audacious passion) A noble girl, a niece of Esyllt; Black-coloured eyes, wild gem with golden hair, Shes full of love, a golden linnet, Of Fflurs complexion and bright gossamer, A bough of fierce whiteness, most refined. Some said to me (strong bonds of love), This year, the [very] best of girls A maid like Luned, joyful treasure is to take A husband: a sad man he who trusts her. I dare not, not being bold of purpose (Woe that poet who may be dull [and] faithful) Take by force the girl, hue of briar flowers [And] twice the colour of the summer. Her proud kin (the hawks of Gwynedd, Best in our land [and] a throng in feast[s]) Would kill me for preventing her From marrying the man: a very nasty conflict! Unless I have her (gentle, golden-voiced; Hue of Marys lively face) for myself, I dont intend at all (my life is hidden), Without honour [and] dejected, By Cadfans image (is it alive?) And the living cross ever to have me a wife.

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2 Esyllt: Iseult, see 16.14. 5 Fflur: a famous beauty, see 44.17. 9 Luned: a lady who appears in the Welsh medieval romance, Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain. 18 The man: probably refers to Jaloux, the stock character of the jealous husband. 23 Cadfan: a fifth-century saint, see 81.45.

LOVES HUSBANDRY

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LOVES HUSBANDRY
1

I used to love, though I might suffer, And I love more, or twice more, still. I protect a most compliant love, Crippled by pain: clear offspring of remembering! Ive kept within me love, Deceiver [and] gnawer of flesh; It grows within my heart (the mother of deceit), That has known [its share] of grief, Swifter than the growth (a powerful creation) Of a branch of planted, thick-topped tree[s]. Ive always had a mind to seek A harvest of love to be my own. I have made (a pang of care) winter tilth, A payment for the wound of passion; Between the tenure (hidden fostering of woe) Of the dead month and the love of Morfudd The breast (joyful, brave, intense) With a deep thrust was in one furrow tilled; A fine plough, perfect, wisely [fashioned] Was used to tear the other breast. The ploughshare is within my heart, And passions coulter above hills. And in the right breast (a swift wounding) There was a sowing and a harrowing of passions flood. And in three months (a bright minds choosing) In springtime (ache of a deceiving sleeplessness) Anguish spread its roots in me, Its an enclosing that will kill me, vexations mockery! In passion I find naught but torment: Nobody believes how busy love is. On May Day, lest I should in any way Willingly be idle in my ways, I built about it (an ardent crops [most] vigorous betrayal) An enclosure: I am a man whos on his own. Whilst love of this [most] generous maid (Disabled mans condition) in my breast Flourished in a fair and lively way And ripened in profusion I was not concerned;

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I came and went, did not delay in hiring Bands of reapers for the pain. The loss of all the corn was sad The mishaps of this world are ever stressful. The wind turned (far-wandering thunder) From the south of the twice-cloven heart, And in my head (a lovers anguish) Two stars of love grew dark; The tear-floodgates of this harvest of distress, The eyes ([theyre] passions swimmers), They looked (the [very] picture of flooding) On Morfudd, that gentle, golden maiden: Louvers of torrents of water, Laborious, unfortunate streams! This heart, tonight, was hurt By grey water, a [most] sorry ending. The damming-stones beneath my breast; My eyes wont leave one bundle dry. Bad weather from the angry west Is bad for stubble, an armful of woe; And heavy, constant, sad rain comes To the cheeks from theastern sky. Great tears for one of Eigrs hue will not (A blighted crop) bring slumber to [my] eyes. Ah love, most treacherous of seeds, After the pain, woe to you for the thought That I could not (hard anguish of deceit) Gather you in between two showers. My good and constant love has fallen: I, for provision, have been deceived.

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In this poem, love unfulfilled is closely compared with cultivating a crop unsuccessfully. 16 The dead month is January. 42 mishaps: the meaning of trylliad in the W. text is not known. 61 Eigr: a noted beauty, see 16.51.

THE GIRL FROM IS AERON

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THE GIRL FROM IS AERON


1

Its a Calend-gift to have a greeting From Is Aerons heart and love. The upright, handsome (futile!) poets weak: Ceredigions gossamers possessed him! Woe to him who gives (fine vanity) his love (Gentle faced girl-mead-provider, Shes the moon of [all] her land) Where it is of no avail a usury subsistence! Woe to him who sees with worthy gaze A frown on a gentle, golden maidens face. She (of Eigrs likeness) does not care How much theres weeping for her love. Woe to him who, for her, sadly holds Within him pain, as I do; Im a girls treasure, very upright: Im full of trouble, [and] ever unrequited. Woe to him, against ice warfare, whod Build a house upon a strand in depth of earth. Its bed will not be safe, it wont last long, A torrent will overturn it. Woe to him who loves (I did, [and] splendidly, A comely tyranny; I served the pain of passion) Her whose face is shining white, high moorland gossamer, Of the hue of foaming water, fair moon of Caron. The splendidly impassive (may coldness take her!) She destroyed my [joy and] rapture. Open-handed, of lovely hue [and] beauty, Gold jewel of the land of Aeron; She (snow light) would a battle banner Cover all along its length with gold.
1 2 11 22 24 Calend-gift: a gift given on the first day of the year. Is Aeron: in south Cardiganshire. Eigr: a famous beauty, see 16.51. The latter half could be translated as I stained the spear of passion. Caron: the area around the modern Tregaron.

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89

UNDER THE EAVES


1

The door is under lock and key; I pine, my dear, hear me! Come and be seen, O fair of form. (For generous Gods sake, show yourself! That lying girl, why should she fool me? By Mary, this weakness drives me crazy.) I struck, in that bitter cold, Three blows: they cracked the [old] Locked latch. Was that not loud? Did you not hear it? A real clanger! Morfudd my chaste-minded treasure, (Foster mother of the land of lying!), My hiding place is just by Your wall (I have to bawl) my beauty. For me, diseased and sleepless, mercy! The night is dark [and] you deny my Ardour: admit my lots not easy. Fie the weather from this sky tonight! Waterfalls from the eaves are frequent, O cause of my passion, on my flesh. The rains not greater (its my woe) Than the snow, and Im below, beneath it! This shaking does not give me ease: There never was, on a corpse, more pain Than Ive attained through caring. By my Creator, a laird be better. Than this road there is no dungeon Worse than it in Caer in Arfon. But for you I would not be Out all night and groaning; Id not come, Im sure of that, For nightly aches did I not care. Id not be under rain and snow One instant but for you, you know. Id not foresake (and I know hardship!) The whole world, were it not for you.

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UNDER THE EAVES

181

This bitter cold I here abide (Your talent!); you are in the house, inside. My sweet soul is there, inside; Tis my ghoul thats here, outside. He who hears me here long, My dear, asks if I am living. My mind, it will not go away; Its madness brings me here to stay. You promised that youd meet me, true? I am here, but where are you!

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The words in italics are asides or sotto voce remarks which represent the poets feelings of frustration. 28 Caer in Arfon: Caernarfon. 38 Your talent: a talent to be cold and frigid.

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90

THE PAIN OF LOVE


1

Thinconstant heart has languished, Love wrought deceit within my breast. Once I was (I know many wounds) In my prime of youth and joyous, Without weakness, without aches, I could endure the pangs of love, Was songs beguiler, was unwithered, Was good in a tryst, was bold and brilliant, Was author of bubbling frivolity, Was full of joy, was full of words, Had my share of health, was splendid, Was merry, good-looking, and nimble. And now (how soon affliction comes) I waste away decayings sorrow! Gone is the boldness that was my vexation, Gone is the flesh, cause of my affliction, Gone entirely is the range of my voice, And my feats how grievously Ive fallen! Gone is desire for a beautiful girl, Gone the talk of loves provoker. No joyful urge, no passion (Memorized in song) arises in me, Nor any pleasant talk of them, Nor ever love unless a girl should ask [me]!

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3 many wounds: lit., a hundred wounds.

ICE

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ICE
1

My teeth were gnashing viciously From being half bent near by stone walls Last night in the middle of a naked wind And ice: how cold was that [whole] venture! Frequent is the winters course (a hillsides crop), Just by her house whose hue is of waves colour. There, indeed, there was (have pity for the lonely) A man who will be full of anger. My radiant gem (from her memories, long-lasting, pretty) On the walls other side did ask [me]:
GIRL: Is it nice to endure the cold? By God in heaven, are you a man? DAFYDD: I was a human being today, in daylight [And] one whod been baptized; But under painful fevers weight I do not know, Now, [O] image of [true] radiance, what I am!

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I tripped over hurdles of cold, hard ice Tough stuff, theres no denying! I fell in turbulent [and] seething water (The anguish of [its] welcome!); I collapsed. When the round surface of waters armour-plating Broke (a shabby, remarkable sight), The shouting and yelling from that ice-bright pool Was heard far off: my plague was harsh Terrifying blue twinings of pain Beneath a dry, bright sky! The dull appearance of that distinctly leaden ground, [With] images of glass [and] great marl-pits! A slippery, shining quarry, In form very dreadful, a blanket of sludge. Now it is, here, worse for me, Because of ice, than on the slope above me; From the eaves the shining spikes Keep threatening my lean flesh; Great nails, [great] blobs of judgement,

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Long as those of an iron harrow: When they fall they are straight pins, Each one of ice theyre icicles! Heavy, hulled husks surprised me, Spears of lead beside a wall. Knives and slices of ice, indeed, Newly sharpened at moons wane, Fermenting pimples, a frozen spittle-plague: Cold morning for skewers of ice! Too true, one must (very solid yelling) Evade the weapons of ice warring. Woe is me that Ive been frozen in the way Of the winged winds vicious spears. I know that shoes (wide-held opinion) Are no better gainst a heavy chill (Numb blood of the love-smitten easily-aroused!) Than if they were not on the poor feet. I am that wise and gentle man who came From the ice mountain [and] greatly wastes away, Who yet is [in] long slumber seen, A dire appearance upon him, Because of death [and] of perdition, Quite withered and covered in ice. A hard sliver of rough [and] brittle ice Poured scorn upon me. Clinging tenaciously, a cruel chill Audaciously ascends [me], like gum. Since I cant have a place inside the house of her (A splendid, fine intent) who is of fine snows colour, According to the right of desolate endeavour I have a claim (if its to be had, let that be soon) To bright, dense sunlight, a mass of shining colour, And sunshine that will loosen [all of] this.

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48 The Welsh text has ysgill = spears? 53 Here there is clearly a reference to a tale, which is no longer known.

LONGINGS PEDIGREE

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LONGINGS PEDIGREE
1

For one like Tegau Ive lost sleep, My tears are angry on account of her. For the hair of that same maid (love does not sleep) For two months, until last night, I have not slept a long, deep slumber ([My] hard luck) for a third of any night. When I was grasping at the fringe[s] Of my slumber, my generous maid, Loves care (a word of sorrow), Asked me rashly, Flamboyant Longings question, The question of a mighty, lively champion:
LONGING:

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Where is Dyddgus poet, she of the bright And lovely hand? What is your name? Stop sleeping, you. Sharp is the pain Of passions wound. Open the door, Im mighty.
DAFYDD: Were I to open it, if open it I must, To whom [then] shall I open, or who speaks? LONGING:

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Some call me (grave and splendid) In Powys, the One who Distrusts Slumber: Longing son of Memory, son of Periphery, Son of Woe-my-Mind, [and] son of Ardour, Son of Pain, of Jealousy, of Wrath, Son of Drooping Looks, of Sorrow, Son of Foolish Languishing, of Vexatious Loss, Son of Gwawl, of Magic, son of wounded Clud, Son of Tears, son of Sleepless Fantasy, Son of Heavy Heart, son of Never-Easy, Son of Black Sleeplessness, of Greeting, Son of Seth, of Adam, son of Love. A gentleman of excessive recklessness am I, Im of good blood, Im set apart;

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Solemn afflicter for fair-speaking Eigr, The head of tears lordship; I am the servant, [one] of the fair host, Of goodly Dyddgu, of fair and seemly body, And also so the sprightly maiden said A butler in loves cellar. And dear [and] modest-mannered Dyddgu Will leave me with you for your life. I made him welcome there Last night (a lamentable evening), Dyddgus envoy (she is a lovely moon): For that welcome, a hundred sighs I sigh!

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1 Tegau: a famed beauty, see 52.1. 3 The Welsh word twf (growth) is used. I have taken it to refer to her hair rather than her size. 12 lively champion: could be drunk aggressor. 26 Gwawl son of Clud: an unsuccessful suitor for the hand of Rhiannon in the First Branch of the Mabinogi. He was of the Other World and probably had magic powers. 28 Never-Easy is, in the context, more appropriate than Easy-Forever. 30 Seth: the third son of Adam. 33 Eigr: a famous beauty, see 16.51. Read eiriau glwyseigr (fair-speaking Eigr) as Thomas Parry suggests rather than air eglwyseigr. The afflicter is in the service of Eigr.

REJECTED LOVE

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REJECTED LOVE
1

I well knew your way was reckless, Fair mite, before this evening. Ive a good mind, in a moments vigour, To argue with you, whose deceit is frequent, Morfudd, Madawg Lawgams daughter; By the Pope, I [well] know why You left me on the seashore Unsightly, widowed in this way. Whilst I could (I did not spoil a song) Act as your husbands substitute (Lusts favour, lovely magic!) Did you not correct me love me? [And] now I am [a man] whos failed (Deep wound), Im weary, with no refuge. Upon your whim (the power of pain!) That Black Laggard swings it well! You have exchanged me (its a shame), [O] star light-white of colour, Like the man (a false condition) Who had beneath the yokes Two pairs of tireless oxen Pulling the same prudent, splendid plough; Let him plough (my cheek is gravel-scarred) A wild headland, [and] hell hold alternately Today one, [by the] Lord, [the] lively God, Tomorrow thother, less efficient. As one does (harsh-worded chiding) While playing ball (my sister in the faith, You are well loved): your shape was sought From hand to hand, [you] shining image. Of great talents, [ah] dear, lovely face, Of modest Dyfrs joy, youve set your mind on this. A squire whose two garbs are elegant, And these as tight as bark[s], He swam before with robust passion Without reward: hard bargain!

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Whoever does that good in birch-wood, If the maiden wants it, let him enter; And he who did it (dreads brotherhood) Let him, deceived, withdraw. He who loves you will regret it: You cast me off [that] pain was brief! It is true that any barrel, When it is empty, is cast off.

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5 Madawg Lawgam: Madawg of the Crooked Hand. 16 Black Laggard: Morfudds husband, Jaloux. 23 Could be: My gravel-scarred cheek has been ploughed. 32 Dyfr: a famed beauty, see 52.1, 13. 336 Thomas Parry suggests that the squire who takes risks instead of his master does not have a good bargain.

APPEALING TO DWYNWEN

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APPEALING TO DWYNWEN
1

Dwynwen, whose beauty is [like] hoarfrost tears, In a chancel with great waxen-flaming [candles], Well does your golden image know How to ease the sorrows of those wretched men. He who watches (a time of shining purity) In your chancel, [O] fair Indeg, No sickness, no minds sadness May enter him [and go with him] from Llanddwyn. Your lowly flocks your holy parish, I am in pain and full of care; Because of longing for a woman This breasts a swelling of [great] yearning; Its long anguish rooted in anxiety, Because I know (its a disease) If I cant have [her], Morfudd, If I live, my living will be worthless. Heal me (praise more fitting) Of my feebleness and weakness. For one year combine a role as lovers envoy To the girl with Gods [own] graces. Golden and unfailing image, you Need never fear sin, that snare of flesh. God, whose peace is good, will not undo What He has done; you wont leave heaven. No strumpet will this year see you Whispering closely with us. Indignant, single-minded Jaloux wont Beat you with a stick, you pure-minded maid. Come, with your favour (hush! none will Suspect you whos been so long with maidens) From Llanddwyn, a place of [great] assembling, To Cwm-y-gro, the gem of Christendom. God has not denied you (for whom peace is easy, Whose gift is ample speech), nor will any man deny you. The work of prayers cant be questioned God will call you, whose diadem is black. Let God, your host bear that in mind Hold [tight] the husbands hands

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(Whod ravish hers a brute) Whilst through May leaves shell come to me. Dwynwen, if you would allow it once Under May woods on a long, lingering day Her poets gift, [O] fair one, youd be blessed. Dwynwen, you were [never] wretched! With your rich-gifted graces show, Wise Dwynwen, youre not prudish. For all you did with [your] great talent Of worlds penance and its stress; For the devotion, faith of the [most] faithful kind, That you displayed while living; For your [most] radiant sisterhood And maidenhood of fair [and] captive flesh; For the soul, if now need be, Of Brychan Yrth of mighty arms; For your bleeding faith, implore That Virgin gem to give relief.

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Dwynwen (the holy Dwyn) was the daughter of Brychan of Brycheiniog referred to as Brychan Yrth in l.54. She was a saint of the fifth or sixth century and became known as the patron saint of lovers. She settled in Anglesey and is associated with Llanddwyn where a church was dedicated to her. A well near the church used to be visited by lovers. 6 Indeg: a noted beauty, see 16.10. 27 Jaloux: here, he is Morfudds husband. 32 Cwm-y-gro: perhaps the modern Cwm-y-glo, not far from Brogynin, Dafydds birthplace. 34 It could well be that the Welsh dyn in this line should be translated as woman or maid rather than man.

LOVES TEARS

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95

LOVES TEARS
1

Dyddgu, colour of the brightest day, Help me, for Lord Gods Only Son, Two cheeks [like] Mary, from Mael land; Your eyes and brows are black. I took note (pursuit of love, It was like magic) of you, well-reared maid. [Ah] noble girl of good [and] gentle speech, To fall in loves a pain [for me]. Twice the hue of shallow, babbling waters Beard; bright image on a veil of woven blue, Bear in mind to pay your lover: With his tongue he swelled your praise! [What] I brought you (gentle portion) is better Than two brooches, I well know it is. A man is like small birches pining For you, twice the colour of a wave: Dyfed knows that he, of flawless learning, Is [now] lifeless; and hes Dafydd! Heedless girl, if I (weak of frame) will one day go Beneath the segments of green trees My tears will flow (profoundly have I said [it], My pains sharp) upon my garments. Im negligent, persistent, I am one Who casts rain beneath a brow, a dean of weeping. Your good poet above all: Tears have stripped his face of flesh. I am a man who, for your love, fair radiant maid, Is ever without pardon, tearful, wan, [Ah] twice the white of fine[st] snow, Wily-minded, [and] magnificently grown. Dyddgu, my golden one who gains distinction, Splendid maid (black-coloured are your eyebrow[s]), [Your] enduring favour, if you gave me that [and] freely, All Englands wealth ([ah] fair of eye), Would lose its worth when May is by Your look would make it worthless. Im worthy of blessings for [my] songs, Youre worthy of praise, by Marys image.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Your wound is fast within my breast, Gentle form of Tewdwrs race. Ungainful is your poets struggle: Undimmed the gems on your wide brow. You, cheerfully, rammed a spear beneath a wounded breast: In your mind it is not painful! Im excluded from your love, [Ah] fine of form, [and] Im not paid, Save that I (complainings very pleasant!) Have dragged oer you [the one] I crave, Against your will two sultry eyes, [Two] neglected water gushers!

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3 6 17 40

Mael land: Maelienydd, in mid-Wales? well-reared maid: or foster-daughter. Dyfed: south-west Wales. Tewdwr: one of the princes of south Wales.

WEARINESS

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96

WEARINESS
1

Your love [ah] one of Indegs beauty Is unrelenting, [like] manacles of joy Within me, a comely and vigorous lad, Tormenting me nine years. For long companionship his foster-father never had For his well-being a more unruly lad. A spoilt young man, a wretched death, A worthless foster-son he had. That, [my] well-born Morfudd, Is what reward I have its grief! Wherever you may go to church, On Sunday or a feast day (you may be my love) I clasp my fists, my saintly girl, In that place where you have gone; And there, gem of this nation (Such a slanderous, playful tale!) I cast my fierce eyes Along your form, my gentle lady. There will be, that day, either Ten or [else] twelve needles [coming] From one eyelid (in spite of [their] suppressing Loves guardianship!) to the other Until one (my wise, enlightened maid, [My] one of golden form) presses on the other. Whilst my eyes, claimed by a swarm, Are terrifyingly open, Rain will come (you are a bright-faced girl) Pouring from the sign of a broken heart, In two broad-flowing streams From there, [ah girl] that I desire! [My] chaste maiden, think on these Thoughts from loves [high] constellations, That after woeful trial[s] rain will fall Along the beard, [my] well-proportioned maid. Though on Sunday for a while Id be, for psalms, A lean, green lad, in the good choir,

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Not all (you thoughtful, flawless one) Though Im not comely within this parish scorn me. The law of love demands, my lady, That you yourself should take me.

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18 In this section of the poem Dafydd presents his love for Morfudd as his own bad foster-son. 1 Indeg: a noted beauty, see 16.10. 6 more unruly: lit., worse. 8 he had: lit., to him. 28 sign: the word in W. is sygn: the plural of the same word sygnau, appears as constellations in l.32.

FORGET ME NOT

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97

FORGET ME NOT
1

Eve a truly noble lady, A goddess of [eminent] grace Its futile (one of the hue of snow), Before Epiphany, to remonstrate with you (Habitual her cheating) that you should never End that bond that was between us. My impetuous sweet maid, it seems You do not know me: deceit is always painful! Ah, glorious gem, have you been since last year Drunk, a magic length of time? Maid too haughtily victorious, Think about it the [whole] world honours you. If there was (the greeting of a loving mind) One word between us (colour of fords foaming water), And if one time there was, [you] who avert your eyes (An accusers fault), praise, [then] let it be again. Dont, like a miser, deserve scorn; Dont be a sorry spinster. Forgetting does no good at all; In awdl and englyn its mocked. The outcome of forgetting is caring: Tower of your house, [now] place your gold-haired brow Beneath a mantle of fine gold; Fair, modest Eve, recall your memory. What you did for me was not done fervently Not good, fair Eve, your memory! Dont for long be unfaithful to me, Dont you forget our ecstasy once.

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1 Eve may be a disguised name for a woman, or may be the real name of one. 20 Two kinds of poetic metrical forms are named: an awdl is a poem using more than one of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody; englyn is the name of more than one kind of those twenty-four metres (see 20.58).

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98

CHOOSING ONE OF FOUR


1

A girl [once] gave her love to me, The star of Nant-y-seri, A magnificent maid (not by [any] false judgement), The modest Morfudd, of great thoughts. Though I may for an amazing, splendid passion Lose my prey whose hastening was proper, Though our transaction might be dear, To that husband of hers it was costly! But for God on highs displeasure (A fine life [and] amazing!) she is unrepentant After (moon of the world) her lover (Fright was a betrayer) swore to give [it] up. If, because of this, I loved Half-heartedly a bald merchants wife (A hunchback [he], with sorry retinue), Wife of a certain burgher Robin Nordd, Elen who was for riches fervent, My prey with firm, affected speech, The queen (the woollen lady!) Of a cloth-factory, in gorse-fire belt: There was a need there of a lover, Hard luck for me he wasnt me! She wont accept (face of a lovely wave) A song for free, [her] honours steadfast! It is for me so easy to get good hold (Its easier far than any thing) of valuable socks; And if I lay my hands on motley, she (Whitest hue of gossamer), will [shift] to satisfy me. I am not, in carefree passion, By God, without some kind of payment; Whether it be words of praise, Or fine and tuneful musing, Or gold (although I may excuse it), Or something else I am [so] witty. But though my tongue may be To Dyddgu weaving poetry, By God there is no work for me But to pursue inconstancy.

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CHOOSING ONE OF FOUR

197

The fourth, as the world knows, is she Whom breeding rules, a lady of the line of royalty. Neither she (rough-water colour), nor any other Will know from my mouth (wise [and] discreet) Her name, nor from what land she came (Shes very dear), nor which one she was. There is no woman of prime passion, Nor any man I love so much As that bright maid within the white-walled fort: Good night to her she wont be grateful! Word is that lovings useless: Ill have (Ill not forbear) [my] payment. If she knew of any mans hope That it might be for her, It would be to her (fair maid with lovely cheeks) As bad as being hanged delightful gift! More full of heaviness (my adversarial stress), Ill [still] praise her, of Nyf s loveliness [And] of lively form; and all of Gwynedd Will praise her: whoever has her, he is blessed!

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The four women referred to in the title are Morfudd, Elen, Dyddgu and one who is not named. 2 Nant-y-seri: there is a Cwmseri, not far from Brogynin, Dafydds home. 16 Robin Nordd: probably Robert le Northern, a wool merchant and a burgess in Aberystwyth. 17 Elen: Robin Nordds wife. 27 motley: cloth of different colours. 56 Nyf: a womans name, see 71.24.

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99

A GIRLS PILGRIMAGE
1

The cantreds lady of solace has Become a nun for the host of Heaven And for Non (the heart keeps this a secret) And for Dewi [this] quiet Eigr Of fair Anglesey: may things go well with her, My very soul, on her way to Mynyw To seek (may that party prosper) Forgiveness for the things she said; For killing her sad, bruised lad, A thin, tormented penitent. Its for blood-money for a song-inspired youth She went (sad longing) into outlawry. Swiftly did she, rose-cheeks, flee My chosen one left Anglesey. Lord Christ, let hateful [ones] be kind, Let it be ebb-tide, and Menai show its favour. Let it be easily that she goes over through The flood of Llyfni, a beating, rough obstruction. Y Traeth Mawr, like an enormous pile, Ebb thou away, let her go through. Y Traeth Bach, with constraind currents, Let my fair maid this much passage. The prodigious prayers are ended Let Artro Fawr be calm! Id pay the toll at Barmouth harbour At ebb tide [just] to bear her yonder. Dysynni of nine waves, wine-coloured, Let her to fair Dewis land; Deep are the waves of Dyfi, Whose waters cold in front of her. Rheidol, for your honours sake, Make way for a maid whos kind with mead. For a payment, Ystwyth, for me let her Over your breast, great mutinous water. Seething Aeron, rowdy [and] lively with love, Let through a girl who is, with reason, praised. Sea propagator, lovely Teifi, Let the girl enhance her blessing.

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A GIRLS PILGRIMAGE

199

Oer the rivers side may she, The maid, come and go most bravely. I have great good fortune, shes in purple, If shes alive, between Mynyw and the sea; If she killed me [so] long ago She (slippery in outlawry) at last will be indicted. Let Mary, with a helping hand, forgive My mournful gull who slew me. Indeed, and Ill acquit her; For it, I will forgo my gold.

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The poet pretends that his love has killed him and has been made an outlaw. She makes a pilgrimage to St Davids to seek forgiveness. The poet says he will forgive her. 1 cantred: a district containing a hundred townships. 3 Non: the mother of Saint David. 4 Dewi: Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. Eigr: a famous beauty, see 16.51. 6 Mynyw: the modern St Davids (Tyddewi) in Pembrokeshire. 16 Menai: if the girl began her journey in Anglesey she would have had to cross the Menai Straits. 18 Llyfni: a river not far from Caernarfon. It enters the sea by Pontllyfni. 19 Y Traeth Mawr: the Great Strand, the sand between Caernarfonshire and Merioneth. At full tide it would, of course, have been a channel of water. 21 Y Traeth Bach: the Little Strand, the sand between Penrhyndeudraeth and Talsarnau in Merioneth. 24 Artro: a river in Merioneth; Artro Fawr: Great Artro. It enters the sea near Llanbedr. 25 Barmouth: now a town on the estuary of the Mawddach river. 27 Dysynni: a river which flows into the sea at Aberdysynni, near Tywyn in Merioneth. 29 Dyfi: a river which flows into the sea not far from Aberdyfi. It is a coastal frontier between north and mid-Wales. 31 Rheidol: a river which flows into the sea at Aberystwyth. 33 Ystwyth: another river which flows into the sea at Aberystwyth. 35 Aeron: a river which flows into the sea at Aberaeron in Cardiganshire. 37 Teifi: a river which flows into the sea at Cardigan (Aberteifi). 48 forgo my gold: a play on words, as they can also mean forgive my dear.

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100

SHOOTING THE GIRL


1

Spears (memorys carousers) Go through me most incisively, Swifter than an arrows speed [impelled] By hands through that heap of rushes, Because of how innately fiercely My dear rejects my praise. [Shoot] an arrow (wild, most sharp, straight, And very painful) across beneath her curvd breast, As long as it does not, upon its whirling track, Cut the skin or one stitch of the shirt. [Let] an iron hook with hilt hang Beneath the jaws of the black-browed maid, As long as it does not (bad turn) impinge upon The sight of that flawless thin-browed [girl]. [Let] her head (a pillar of praise) Be cut off with one axe-blow. He whod stop this is oppressive: Oops! Alas! Is the fine girl alive? Loudly shall I shout my loudest yell A louder Woe than Woe me or Woe him! If she, that dazzling worthy girl, will die Because of this my prayer, then more woe me! Though its so hard (this turn of heavy vexing) To win her, let her live; It is best she should escape (A public boon) because she is so good.

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A CHURLISH GIRL

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101

A CHURLISH GIRL
1

A hateful yearning! For however long that I may seek (Loves a magician; I am pale and I am foolish Because my needs so strong) To chase the choice Sun of the South (Hue of foam-spray upon a slab of rock, Sprightly, dark-browed), she escapes. I cant have her against her will, And she wont take me willingly. I wont be silent, if I go without reward, More than a nightingale within the boughs. May Mary and God and Mordyrn And those who see my cruel fate Grant me (this is passions revel) For my ardour, either this To die soon, without delay, Or have the generous girl and [then] live long. Some fools assert its very likely That I dont know (is this not [true] deceit?) How to compose one word but to the one Whose face I may adore, that Im a sad instructor. For praising her (whose torpors of the noble sort) In a good song (and this is [surely] a sign) Not one grey, jolly merchant would give What has been sung for twenty pounds! Ive not been given (enamel of nine graces) The worth of this, but only play at payment. A silly gift: it was just as if A man with a yew bow Was shooting, where an anchor holds, A gull close by a stony shore, Without a sign of profit without the bolts in his possession Or the tough-clawed, wild, white bird. I am persistent I shoot songs in vain: Is it worse to shoot with an arrow the stars? If I composed (I know so many verses) For God what Ive composed for her,

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

He would easily, by right, bring for me The dead to life by greatest intercession! She, fair maid whose teeth are white, Would not, for me, do one small smidgen! The girl prefers (she gives me no easy sleep) Her cosy old base and her situation To being a wraith in the dew of fair Gweirfuls feast (true praise of Gwynedd). She, spiteful one, would not exchange The place she is, were she by Marys side. No blonde girl, wandering to and fro [for] love, Was ever born so churlish. If she, of the hue of highland snow, Rejects my song (she was once true!), My dear, modest maids [harsh] words of rejection Were the market-place rejection! Wound on wound, bright slender girl; Leaden [too] and false, a plague upon her!

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Sir Thomas Parry says it could be that this is a poem by Gruffudd Gryg because there is a reference in it to one of his loves, Gweirful (l.44). 11 Mordyrn: a revered man of the church. 25 enamel of nine graces: probably a reference to the girl. 29 an anchor holds: lit., an anchor treads or steps. 31 sign of profit: or credit [in mercenary terms] for profit. 35 so many verses: lit., a hundred englynion. 434 Extremely difficult. The meaning may be that the poets girlfriend prefers to stay at home instead of coming out for feasting and revelry. The dew of a feast may be a refreshing feast. 52 May refer to the harsh words of rejection that were usual in market-places. 54 A change of tone, from adulation to condemnation, which is a feature of Dafydds poetry. a plague upon her: lit. a plague upon her head.

THE POETS AFFLICTION

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102

THE POETS AFFLICTION


1

A sprightly, fair maid would entice me: Bountiful Morfudd, god-daughter of May. It is she I am addressing Im feverish tonight for her love. She sowed in my breast ([and] it will break) Loves seed: wild, violent magic! Harvest of pain! This is whats wrong: She, of lively days hue, will not let me be. Enchantress and beautiful goddess, Her words are magic to me. Readily shell listen to any charge: Woe is me, cant have her favour. Today Id have peace, instruction, reward With my girl whos so very accomplished: Tonight with no blood-fine Im an innocent outlaw, Away from her parish and home. It is she who thrust (sharp pain for a man!) Longing in the breast of her outlaw. In his longing her outlaw will Longer remain than the sea on a shore. Ive been shackled, ribs nailed through; A shackle of sorrows been given to me. Its unlikely Ill have peace beneath Her gold, rich hair with my lively, canny maid. Dire fevers came of this Long life for mes unlikely! She is from Ynyr descended: Without her I wont survive.

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In the Welsh poem every line begins with the consonant H. In Welsh prosody this feature is called consonantal linking. A number of images for painful love run through this poem; it is a malicious magic; a deadly fever; a sowing and unpleasant reaping; an innocent man forced into outlawry and then jailed and punished. 27 Ynyr: most probably Ynyr Nannau, an ancestor of the house of Nannau, near Dolgellau in Merioneth.

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103

FAREWELL
1

You, the like of Indeg (life to your brow), Well know lovely magic (Longing possesses me, enchantment pursues me, You whose hair is glorious) to entice a man. Its a long task inside a bright and cosy cell To take you, youre so awkward. Stay, girl, dont flee, there is no need To hasten from the grove to court. Hostess of the birches cope, Morfudd, stay with me, console me. If you, my girl, my mite, my darling, Would come at last to the birch cell, You would not go (fine, goodly room) A modest payment! from there as you might come! Its tough that I cant stop you: I am your slave, ah girl of lovely brow. Its hard that I can not ([with] roughest intimacy) Detain you underneath a roof of golden fabric. Fate wont draw you from your faith, As a tryst in trees [once] drew you. Come (for my perdition, even) to have me Where you promised, black-browed moon; If you would come, my reckless, scheming will Would take vengeance for it, For pursuing you without substantial profit! Ah Morfudd, Ill not have the chance. Go, my desire (totally intact!), And God help you, little girl, Fare thee well (a greater gift): Ten groans for me because of destiny! Farewell, dear girl, the worlds blessing, Take with you your own greeting.

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1 Indeg: a famous beauty, see 16.10. 4 entice: or enchant. 12 birch cell: as Morfudd is presented as a bountiful hostess, the fedwgell is meant to recall the word feddgell (mead cell) which would be an important part of any welcome.

FAREWELL

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19 faith: lit., baptism. 21 The Welsh word colled here means damnation, perdition rather than loss. 2831 There is a play on the W. word iach in these lines. Iach can mean well, in good health, untouched, unscathed.

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104

THE FOSTER-SON
1

In upbringing my Love [is] A brash, spoilt foster-son, A handsome boy, of great discourtesy: A slender girl, through passion, made him. Today, to me no good denying Because of longing, Love is a foster-son. The foster-son (scowl of distress) Did to me great wrong, Wanting, for a girls sake, to be borne, Wanting to wait for a greeting, Wanting to wander in bracken, Wanting to be enticed by a maid, (My travails too great by far!) Wanting to be hidden, and [then] to be found (A maid [well] knows my courtesy), Wanting to rejoice, [but] silently! I have brought up (Ive suffered) Love, A foster-son composed by fraud. To foster a viper, [so] tame [and so] fair, In my breast for a maid, [so] slim and refined, Was for me (forswearing [all] well-being), To foster a slim, lovely lad in my breast. This son (and I shall prove it) Is strange in his ways in summer month[s]. Love will never be denied, Nor shown to a numerous host. Hell not leave hearts province, Wont live but in the top of my breast. We cannot have tranquillity He wont settle after song, He wont sit were he a Pope, My unchaste son will not lie down. He wont stand (golden Love will not withstand A modest nature) for womans work. I raised her praise as far as Teifi Im foster-father to the maidens Love. He is still (Ive had my worries) An awkward child to raise inside my breast.

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THE FOSTER-SON

207

The son whom I raised for myself, This year he is restless. Ive raised (I am a handsome, lively man) A dear son for the slim-browed maid. My reward for rearing a son For her (a lovely gem) was small. Cold chill (the aim was kindliness) To the girl who put him into care Unless she pays for my worrying (A crowds full care!) for the rearing of him.

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This poem presents the poets Love (or more plainly, perhaps, his penis) as a foster-son. 35 Teifi: a river in south-west Wales.

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105

THE LOOKING-GLASS
1

I did not think (the bold oppression of evil) That my face was not handsome and good Until I held (revealing work) A looking-glass: and what a bad one! At last the glass told me My looks do not excel. For her, the like of Enid, the cheek is Turning yellow: theres not much colour in it. After the groaning, the cheek is a glass With a yellow weal all through it. One could, perhaps, a razor make Of the long nose: is this not wretched? Is it not wicked that the cheerful eyes Are [now] blind auger holes, And that the flurry of vain curly hair Falls from its roots in handfuls? My bad fortune is immense: In my opinion, it is either that I am a speckled, swarthy quiver, Ill-disposed, or that the glass is false. If the fault (I know that feeling of long passion) Is mine, [then] may I die! If the fault was that of the mottleSurfaced glass, fie, what a life! A round, pale moon of dolorous circumference, Full of magic, loadstone-shaped, Of a weak colour, magically lovely They who made it were magicians, A dream of the most fleeting kind. A cold betrayer [and] brother to ice, Most false [and] most unpleasant lad: To hell with that mocking, thin and hateful glass! None made me wrinkle-faced If that glass theres worth believing But that girl from Gwynedd: There its [well] known how to damage a face.

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THE LOOKING-GLASS

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4 7 24 27 32

what a bad one: this could refer to the face, or the looking-glass. Enid: a well-known beauty, see 52.1, 50. fie, what a life: or lit., fie, for the [=its] life. magically lovely: or an enchanting jewel. Lit., May the . . . glass be in flame[s]. The W. word mingam in the text literally means bent or curled lip but is used for a mocking or contemptuous look.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

106

REPENTANCE
1

A poet to Morfudd am I, A costly calling, I made poems to her. By that Being who rules this day My head aches for that splendid maid, And in my brows the pain of fretting; For a golden girl Im dying. When death comes, [with a] racking of bones, With its [most] vicious arrows, Life near its end will be tremendous, A mans tongue will cease to be. May the Trinity and Virgin Mary (Lest there be lamenting and great trembling) Forgive the error of my ways; Amen, Ill sing no more.

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2 calling: profession. 3 this day: lit., today. 7 racking of bones: a guess at the meaning of the W. osgel in its context.

DENIAL

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107

DENIAL
1

I gave a fair, wine-nurtured maid As would an arrow fly great ecstasy. Ill gild all girls with words Of praise for that girls sake. Woe me, there her memory of me Is bad, shed do me harm. I was once (in presence of this finest gem) A dear poet of the thin-browed maid. By now, although I may not stop, I am loves castaway, neglected. By woods edge with the girl I lay, Beneath the green-leaved trees. I was a treasure, although I had no craft, Skin to skin with that canny maid. Although Ive been, my girl (a wicked darling) Does not want to know me. I wont have, any more (except by force) The young woman that I had. The girl (how bright she was!) does not Want to see me, although she is respected, Any more than if they put on me, in summer fair, A billy-goat beard and billy-goat horns.

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15 Ive been: I have been with her in the woods.

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108

THE HEART
1

Aha! You short and round and little heart, Whose natural actions relentless: Was there ever any part more painful Than you, you weaving-house of song? A pilgrim reared in the breast, A white-headed tendon of longing. Importunate, most audacious [and] round maid, A pile of clear and sparkling thoughts. In unenvious mood its still; The little egg-shapes filling up. This, a throne inside the breast (Strong name of songs fermenting, A wild roar) will make a poor, very odd man A very bold [and] generous lover. Let the wine-dispensing host Consider the mead-drink, how good it has been; This will cause for a long while gift-giving, A flow of bubbling fun, an extravagant man. A dirty pilgrim, dull [and] with dead pecker, A cold head, no clout upon his bum, And very bold along the streets, Cold-faced, there he will not be Without either receiving (may I pass by!) An injury, or readily inflicting wounds. The second is, in a flash of distraction, To wish over lips shame on a beard. The third, no one will know: A mans ways in adultery, Desiring (lofty urge!) To take, in secret, a fair modest maid. That is the root of pestilences: That proud office titles mine. Theres not, by God, distress thats greater Beneath the heaven of man or beast than my Loving (drawing near in love,

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THE HEART

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To everyones displeasure) this one maid Adored by the crowd, of lovely radiance, The shining, slender-bowing; everyone knows who: Most dazzling beauty, home of the lively moon, Morfudd of the lovely cheeks, indeed; Colour of sunshine when the sun on the hill is Intense, with joyful eyes, clear and sparkling; Fair, generous girl, gentle, wine-giving and thriving, The sunlight of love and its star.

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This poem is rather difficult to follow. Firstly, the poet describes the effect that the heart has on a man. Then he considers the effect of mead. He then proceeds to consider what the consequence may be of meeting a pilgrim, of insulting a man, and of being an adulterer. Dafydd may have been led to consider a triad with some recollection of the triads that are found in Proverbs 30.1519. 5 A pilgrim: lit., A female pilgrim. 15 host: may be translated as family. 36 To everyones displeasure: could also be translated as In spite of everyones censure.

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109

THE SIGH
1

A tough, coarse sighs the cause Im not contained inside my garb. A sigh (part of a cold exhaling) Broke the breast that held it (That height of pain) in four; With its wild pain it almost splits me. From a nestful of breasts precious memories (A sigh of [most] difficult passion) A cramped kind of sound arises in me Anger from the thin edge of memory; Breasts fluster [and] deceptions hole, A clever extinguisher of candles; A shower from songs whirlwind, It will be a mist-hedge of long meditation. A girl (passionate word) is the cause of it An angry roar along the length of man. When Im offended all suppose (Were there instruction [for it]!) Im a piper. There is more breath in me than in The hollow of a blacksmiths bellows. A sigh, a sharp exertion from the front Will break a stone from any wall! A rain[-bearing] breeze to wither the cheek, Its the ill-fated autumn wind. Never was there wheat that could not be winnowed By this when its wild with fury. My work for a year has been [very] sad: Apart from Morfudd, no maid can comfort me.

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14 The mist-hedge may be a reference to the mist-hedge mentioned in the medieval romance of Geraint fab Erbin. 17 Im: lit., I may be. 28 no girl: or, none.

INDIFFERENCE

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INDIFFERENCE
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In loving Im the same (it was Futility, pains frigidity) As the fool on roadways chasing His shadow through the green-attired trees. A young mans talk is full of pride: Though he be swifter than the wind or hawk [It is] wraths disposition hell not be (It was an ancient judgement) nearer it (A lively mind, [and] fitting strength) come noon (His glorys short) than in the earliest morning. His shadow, that stays silent, Wont leave his side, suspecting him. Im in the same state (recalcitrant age) As this one longing haunts me. I am (I was a slender lad) Wasting away, am weak and very thin For the love (by Mary this is potent magic) Of a very slender, simple maid. This shrinks my grey and withered cheek; Tonight I am no nearer (a lively mark of wasting) Winning the mind of that tall, slender maid Than on the first day of a [fine] long summer, [No nearer] than the fool is, after snow In his sleep, to catching up his shadow. She made me lose [my] patience: She is so chaste, to me its wicked. The maids demeanour does not change Nor her smile, for any lie or truth; Of noble aspect, she is good and gentle, My maiden (the colour of fine snow) will not Take me, no more than [take] a statue, Nor will my slender dear refuse me! The slender, tender girl wont stop me loving her, She will not kill me all at once, that gem of many. Yet if that fair one of fine words (Tegaus image) sees I am offended, I can have (though hiding passion) A kiss the time that I may seek it.

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And (fair-weather face) a faint laugh, An easy smile, Id have from her. I dont know which (tall, slender girl) This is (white-hued) in fact: Is it mockery (given early) For true pain, or is it great affection? With one of Tegaus conversation, Im offended: It is no good to me (a sinless passion) To languish long girl of great beauty, Goddess and in the end to die.

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78 hell not be/. . . nearer it: here refers to the young mans shadow. The shadow is as impossible to catch, for the poet, as love. 36 Tegau: a noted beauty, see 52.1. 46 no good: lit., a little good.

THE SPEAR

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THE SPEAR
1

I saw the girl beneath the gleaming gold, Colour of shallow, lively, splashing water, All gold from head to toe, A splendid maid, as bright as daylight, Listening at Bangor, in Deinioels choir, To the lesson about Noahs Ark. Loveliness enough for the whole world! To see that fair girl of goodly beauty, Comeliness of Fflur, was double agony and great treachery: Ah, for such blessing! My wounding is deep. She shot me with a seven-edged spear, And seven verses of elegant wrath. A poisoned point (I know I languish) Wished on me by the jealous men of Anglesey; No man beneath heavens constellations Can pull it out its in my heart. No blacksmith beat it into shape, It was not honed by any hand. No one knows (worthy of a grade in song) The colour or shape of the sharp weapon that kills me. I have in my fine vigour, my good looks Been made mad for the candle of Gwynedd. Woe me! shell cause me long-lasting agony: Blessd am I! like [is she] in worthy hue to Mary. The pain of eighteen wounds is deep within me, Sad youth, and it withers up my cheeks. This sharpened spear, it throbs sharply (Good as poison!), this bodkin of anxiety. In anger she, of Esyllts beauty, thrust This strong shaft in my tender breast. Its hard for me to keep it long This auger in my shattered, worn [and] broken breast, Loves awl, an instrument of pain, This thrice-sharp arrows near-kin to treason.

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It has been suggested that this poem may have been the one which prompted Gruffudd Gryg to satirize Dafydd as a spear-thrust lover in a composition which led to a bardic controversy between him and Dafydd, see poems 14754.

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5 Refers to the cathedral of St Deinioel at Bangor, see 50.35. 6 Sir Thomas Parry suggests that it is not impossible that Dafydd may have witnessed a miracle-play about Noahs Ark. Saunders Lewis suggested that salm balchnoe may refer to Isaiah 54.9 (Lln Cymru, II (1953), 204). 9 Fflur: a noted beauty, see 44.17. 12 verses: lit., poems. 19 May well refer to a bardic custom of awarding a grade for merit in composing poetry. 23 The Welsh word gwewyr here translated as agony can also mean spears. 25 The Welsh word gwayw here translated as pain can also mean spear. 28 bodkin: a sharp needle. 29 Esyllt: Iseult, see 16.14.

THE GREETING

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THE GREETING
1

Greet, [yet] dont greet, you love-envoy, I dont know who the wife of a good youth? Ask the girl I greeted I know not what Gainst tyrannys demands To come tomorrow early (Im dull) I dont know where. And I shall come mindful of unbending wrath At what time I have no clue. If she, of easy designation, may demand (A suitors agony) who it was that greeted, You tell [her], falling silent (I am capricious), I dont know. If you see her who is so fair, Although you may not see (not an unpleasant sight) Her whose good, shining face is sun in early morning, On your oath dont say a thing.

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In this playful poem one thing is said, and then contradicted or withdrawn. It suggests a not-very-confident suitor.

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113

LOVE-ENVOY TO A NUN
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Calm yourself you busy envoy, For Mays sake take off to the March[es]. You left, you went away, [And now], by God, I need you. Compliant questions! Faultless course! In the place you know, you once did well. One word from you got me a maid! Make me see [those] girls of Mary. Exquisite form, go forth to Llan proud Llugan, where there are some [who are] lime-white. In the church seek the great jailer, The girls guardian, and address her. [You] busy one acclaimed by poets, This is the psalm, [and] to the jailer tell it; And moan how great is my complaint And seek out nuns for me! Saints everywhere forbid me from Women-saints in pretty dormitories Snow-white [like] lively slopes of gossamer, Swallows, dwellers in the convents choir, God-sisters every one of them To Morfudd, [my] gentle, golden girl. Your two feet are good contraptions, Bring from the choir a fair maid to the wood, You who can do it (the bower is ours), And the black nun to the leaf-grove. If I can have (so I wont worry) From the refectory a girl of clear brow (Friend to sixty other darlings), Seek the bell-ringer from the choir. If she (of the lively hue of snow), Though shes praised far, wont come for your sake, Before the [coming] of the summer moon, [you go And] try to trick the abbess, of sunshines lovely glow.
2 the March[es]: that is the border country between Wales and England. 910 Llanllugan is in Montgomeryshire. 12 I take the jailer to refer to the abbess. She is therefore referred to as her.

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THE SKYLARK

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THE SKYLARK
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At daring hours the skylark Turns upwards from his house each day Worlds morning-man, with ardent golden song Towards the heavens, [hes] Aprils porter. Of gracious voice, [and] rhymes director, [Your] way is sweet, your labour lovely: The modest feat of grey-wings [is] Song-making above groves of hazel. You have a mind [and] height of language For preaching (precious office) A forceful song from well of faith, Profound[est] honours before God. You would go high, with true Cais passion, And on high you sing all songs; A lovely charm by stars partition Thexpansive orbit of the heaven[s]. [Youve] seized your lot how high Youve climbed, [and] you have been rewarded. Let every goodly creature praise His Maker, the radiant, pure ruler, Praise God as He decrees: A thousand hear him, hes adored: dont stop. In manner a love author: where are you? In grey-brown cloth the voice is soft and clear. Yours is a pure, pleasant song, Brown songster, one inspired. You are a cantor of Gods chapel (The omens good), [you are] ingenious. Complete of privilege, [with] many skilful songs; The wide-capped ones grey-crested. Make for the familiar sky, Songster, that truly wild [and] blessd land. A man will spot you [there] above For certain when the day is longest. When you may come to worship (the God Whos One and Three has blessed you)

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Its not a treetop that will hold you Above the world (you have a language) But the graces of the righteous Father, His countless miracles, His will. Teacher of praise twixt light and dark, Come down: Gods blessing on your wings. My grey, pretty bird and brother in authority, If you would go as [my] love-envoy, Take greetings with you to the fair of face, Of sparkling talent, moon of Gwynedd. And seek one of her kisses To bring it, or two, [back] here to me. Lord of the wild sea-sky, Go yonder, just beside her court. May it be I who will forever be (To Jalouxs indignation) with her one day. On you, for killing you, the fines so complex That no one dares to slay you. If he (Boo! to Jaloux) were to try it With bold fury, youd survive. To you, [skys] circle is a spacious perch: How far you are from hand and bow. [On] hard-trodden land the bowmans sad, In his grand scheme he will be clumsy, His wrath [will be] intense; wheel thou above him Whilst with his arrow hell pass by.

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1 The Welsh oriau in this line can mean hours or prayers. The translation could be With special prayers the skylark/ Turns upwards . . . 13 Cai: one of King Arthurs knights. Cais attribute or special ability was that he could make himself as tall as the tallest tree if he felt like it. Like him the skylark can go high. 49 Lord: lit., water-lord. 52 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 62 The Welsh word hobel translated here as arrow may also mean hawk.

THE WOODCOCK (B)

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POET:

THE WOODCOCK (B)

You, whose flight is [one] dense whirring, Fervent woodcock, fiercely flying, Tell [me], you bird of elegant wing (Youre good and comely) where youre going?
WOODCOCK: [As] its freezing fast and furious, I am fleeing, by my faith, On a journey from the place I was in summer To shelter from the snow of winter. Bitter memory of winters black ice And drifting snow wont let me linger. POET:

Bird, you wont be granted a long life, Smart chick with a long beak. Come (dont you utter any words) To where she is, the one I love (of Marys colour), A most lively place beside a hill, A place of clear sunshine, where a song is heard, To shelter from the breeze of winter, By long grace, to wait for summer. If (daring word) a wanderer (You most persistent whistler) should turn about you With a thick-headed bolt and bow, And see you, man, in your good lair, Despite his voice dont hide, dont shut Your eyes beneath your shining crown. Fly, make haste from treachery, And trick him in your good [and] lively way From bush to bush (great bother), From grove to wasteland grove. Of comely movement, if in a trap Your foot should stick by bushes edge, Dont you, of restless leaping, be tied down By a little loop, a bent and withered snare. Cut stoutly from about your claw With your strong beak theight withered strands;

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Sad of beak (he loves an ancient wood), The auger of earths gateways. Come down today by wooded hill Below a maidens house (how fair her hair!) And find out, by Cybis image, By that hill, if she is faithful. Observe her ways, [and] watch and stay By there, you lonely bird.
WOODCOCK: Theres the greatest need to warn you, You handsome, witty lad: be quiet! It is too late (I fear the freezing wind) For watching her, the enterprise is shabby; Its strange how long she has grown cold: One livelier, shrewder took her. POET:

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Bird, if it is true my flitting passions Left in the lurch of love (neglectful me!) [Then] what the old ones sang (a warrant of good grace) Of such distress is true: A tree in a wood, (my longings sore) Another axeman has her.

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13 any words: lit., two words. 39 Cybi: a sixth-century saint, the founder of a monastery at Caergybi (the Fort of Cybi) in Anglesey. The English name of the modern town is Holyhead. 47 she: could be it referring to the weather. 51 The words the old ones sang are those of a proverb, Pren ynghoed arall biau (The tree in a wood, another owns it), see ll.534. 53 The Welsh word used for tree in the proverb is pren. I have translated it as if it were coeden (tree), a word whose gender in Welsh is feminine; that is why the figurative tree in this line is referred to as her.

THE ROEBUCK

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THE ROEBUCK
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You, roebuck, forkd scarperer, Greyish breeches, skyline runner, Take this letter, wonderful [and] elegant, By God in heaven, on your bare bum. Burdened leaper, youre the swiftest, The envoy of a handsome poet. By God, roebuck, I must ask you To deliver some love errands. With heather lair above the white-rock, He, the wild-head, grazes grass; Noble, splendid payment-seeker, [Hes] sharp-antlered, a ridge-leaper. Like a bare-backed lamb uphill He leaps; hes fair of face and nostril. You, my fine lad, wont be betrayed, Dogs wont kill you, tall, fair baron. Aim for a creditable feat: after sunshine Dont you let a hound-dog catch you. Dont you fear sharpened arrow[s], Nor, if you leap, a hound behind you. Beware of Pali, red-legged dog, And Iolydd, crafty, ruddy hound. The baying of hounds must needs be heeded If to Tywyn-land they chase you. Take care in case you will be seen, Run over a hill to a bracken patch; Beneath an old gap jump Into the field, and dont delay. You, generous of nature, are my love-messenger, And my poet to the bountiful, beautiful Dyddgu. And you (whose trottings comely) Make this journey to her fathers house. Despite that choice obstructors anger, Learn the hold of Ovids way. Come at night beside the ditches Under forest trees and branches With a kiss for me the straight one will not fail me, Dyddgu, white-feather hued, neat-plaited.

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Go there, remarkable roebuck, Where I would love and wish to be. No hand will flay you; be well [and] joyful; Your pelt wont wrap an ancient Saxon; Nor shall false Jaloux have, my dear, Your horns, your hooves, or flesh. May God, wise saviour, and the arm Of [Saint] Cynfelyn from [all] betrayal keep you. And I, should I be highest, Will bless you, hue of rose-hip[s].

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5 Burdened leaper: the W. cofl lemain could mean leap to a lap or lap burden. 212 Pali, Iolydd: names of dogs. 24 Tywyn-land: There several places called Tywyn in Denbighshire, Merioneth and Cardiganshire. The text probably refers to the one in Cardiganshire on the basis of the reference to Cynfelyn (l.46). 34 Ovid: the Classical poet, see 6.16. 37 the straight one: lit., the arrow. 43 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 46 Cynfelyn: a saint commemorated in Llangynfelyn, mid-Wales.

THE WIND

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THE WIND
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Sky-wind, whose ways unhindered, With great bluster he moves yonder; Youre a strange one, loud of din, Worlds wonder without foot or wing. It is amazing how strangely from skys pantry You were sent without one foot, And how swiftly now you run Over that steep slope above. You need no swift steed beneath you, Nor bridge over bay, nor boat. Youll not drown, youve been forewarned, Youll not stick fast you have no angles! Nest-snatcher, though you winnow leaves No one indicts you, no one can Stop you no swift host, no rain, No rulers hand, blue blade, or flood. No officer can, nor retinue, arrest you, In your time, you treetop stripper. No one can kill you (an unworthy thought!), Fire cant burn you, deceit cant weaken. No eye can see you, great bare lair, All can hear you, nest of vast rain; Sky-noter, swift of nature; Nine wild-lands wonder-leaper! Youre Gods grace upon the earth, Angry roarer, oak-top chopper. Dry your humour, prudent creature, Cloud-stepper [and] wide wanderer. On plains you shoot snow high above Vain, very noisy husk-heap[s]! You diligent singer, tell me Your way, you valley north-wind. Wild-weather sea-whisker, A clown along the seashore, Fluent composer [and] wizard, Youre a sower, disperser of leaves. The white-breasted seas wild Mast-mover; honoured laugher of the hills.

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You fly along the whole world over, Hill weather, be high tonight O man, to Uwch Aeron go With clear voice, all fair and bright. And dont delay, dont linger, In spite of Bwa Bach who brings complaints Through jealousy, dont be afraid: Her land, her cares exempt to me. Woe me when I gave my sad love To Morfudd [whos] my golden girl, A maid that made me outcast: Run high, make for her fathers house. Knock on the door, and make it open Before dawn to my errand-bearer. Seek a way to her, [and] if you find it, Give voice to my lamenting. You come from the pure zodiac, Say this to my bounteous [and] diligent maid: However long in the world I may be, I am her faithful plaything. Without her my face is woeful If its true shes not unfaithful! Go high, and youll behold her; Go low, skys well-belovd. Go to that pale [and] golden maiden, Come home safely, youre skys darling.

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23 Sky-noter: Thomas Parry suggests that the wind places clouds here and there in the sky like a writer of musical scores placing notes on a manuscript. 41 Uwch Aeron: Aeron is a river in mid-Wales that flows into the sea at Aberaeron. The poet sent his messenger to the upper part of the valley. 44 Bwa Bach: Little Crookback, a nickname for Morfudds husband.

THE GULL

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THE GULL
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Ah gull on the tide, a beauty; surely Of the hue of snow or the white moon, Of fairness unblemished, A patch like the sun, a sea gauntlet, You bob about on the white wave lightly, Fish-eating, proud-scurrying bird. Yonder by the anchor youd wander Along with me, sea lily; Page-white, dazzle-bright, A nun on the surge of the sea. Of proper fame, a lady, [and] known widely Seek out the shape of a castle and bailey, Gull, see whether you may spot her, On that fine fort, of Eigrs colour. Speak my words, all to one end, hie thee To the lady: let her choose me! If shes alone, be bold, address her, Be adept with that dainty maid For favour; tell her that, without her, I Refind lad will [surely] die. With the aid of perfect passion, I love her: Ah, good men, no one ever loved Nor Myrddin of the good [and] fulsome lips Nor Taliesin anyone prettier. A Cyprian, much sought under tresses of copper, Exquisite of feature, all-excelling, demure. Ah, [my] gull, if you behold The face of this worlds fairest, Tell: if Im not greeted very gently, That girl will be the death of me.

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8 Along: lit., Hand in hand. 12 D. J. Bowens suggestion is that the poet may be referring here to the castle at Aberystwyth. 14 Eigr: a noted beauty, see 16.51. 22 good men: here the poet addresses his audience.

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23 Myrddin: an old Welsh poet and visionary (and the Merlin associated with King Arthur), and as is implied here a noteable lover. 24 Taliesin: a sixth-century poet and, later, a magical figure in a tale, and as is implied here a noteable lover. 25 Cyprian: there have been several attempts to explain this reference. The most convincing is Anthony Conrans suggestion that it refers to the Cyprian Venus or Aphrodite (see The Penguin Book of Welsh Verse (1967), 279). Cyprus was famous for copper mines and, in alchemy, copper was associated with Venus. Morfudd had light-coloured hair; here the implication is that her hair was copper-coloured. 28 Lit., The cheek of the fairest girl in Christendom/the world.

TO INVITE DYDDGU

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TO INVITE DYDDGU
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Shining maid endowed with talent, Dyddgu, with the smooth black hair, I (hidden passion sustains anger) Invite you to Manafan lea. A meagre invite does not suit you: This wont be a gluttons invite to a shack; Not the feasting paid for reaping, Not of corn a bright, fresh crop; Not part of any farmers dinner; Not like the start, meat-laden, of strict Lent, Not like the stay of any Saxon with his friend, Not the feasting at first shaving of a villein. I do not promise (a good ending!), My gold one, anything but nightingale and mead; A soft-voiced, grey-backed nightingale And vigorous thrush with pleasant voice. Hanging growth, and [too] a chamber Of fresh birches: was there ever a house better? Whilst were out beneath the leaves, Our fair, strong birches will sustain us. That gentle grove, a loft for birds To play there thats the way it is. There are, in all, nine trees Of [fine], attractive aspect, A pendant circle down below, [And] a green belfry up above. Beneath them (pleasant dwelling) There is fresh clover, heavens manna. A place for two ([all] crowds displease them) Or three to while away an hour: Where roebucks come, on good oats reared, Where a bird sings: a pleasant place! Where it is dense with blackbird dwellings, Where trees are fair, where hawks are raised. A new place of good wood-building, A place of many passions, a place where heaven is here,

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Place of a palace, very green, where frownings modest, A sheltered place, near water, without smoke. A wild land, where no begging flour-man Or any long-shanked cheese-mans known. There tonight, white hue of wave, Lets go, we two, my lovely girl. O white-bright face, my maid whose eyes A glowing ember, if well go [ever], lets go [now]!

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4 Manafan: no manuscript gives this exact form. It is the name of a place near Brogynin, where Dafydd was raised. 8 The Welsh has here a mixed crop of corn. 12 The line probably refers to the ceremonial cutting of hair when a boy came of age. 17 Hanging is a guess at the meaning of the Welsh ygus. 25 pendant: overhanging. 3940 Those who went begging for flour and cheese.

A GIRL AND A BIRD

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A GIRL AND A BIRD


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A lovers favourite desire: Will it come, O Lord God, before long, If the strong muse is ready A splendid maid and warbling bird? No pale and modest lovers had (Since he has learned to wait) A craft more pleasant (from my surge of passion) Than waiting for a well-loved maid, And wandering, passing a long while In hidden corners among branching trees, Like a master of the hounds (swift sportsman) Who would, in anger, chase From place to place, from grove to grove A wild, young animal like Enid And a little bird that keeps us sane On skys horizon [by] mentioning her name. Of light voice, he the fine, wild envoy, With a golden beak from a branch Would call to her who is like Esyllt, By his faith, on seeing the girl! If flowing tears would allow it, It would be pleasant clearly to hear The May birds exultation Beneath the green birch of the splendid maid. A handsome knight of gifted song, Exalted, golden on fresh leaves; He would sing a lively song Hour by hour great pain when hed be [at it]. He handsome, gentle-voiced young lad, This bird with silver voice, whose songs Melodious, clear, thoughtful would not, More than any hermit, leave this bush of slender branches. In the house of gentle birches It would be seemly if the bird would come To the leaf grove of small and cosy-stockinged birches A friendly, green and lovely cage. Fair birch, topped with hair of equal age, A splendid tower on the summit of the hill.

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A growth not marked by any axe, A house that grows on just one pillar. A green posy of magic clusters of embracing leaves, Whisks of corn on stubble standing. Dark-furred, Mays well-trimmed one, A thick green roof: Gods blessing on it! By the relic, it would be a pleasant task To kiss a maid whose word was constant And, after our good while With [just] the two of us, [in] ribbons of [bright] sunlight, To look through the mantle of my glorious girl At peaks that are lusts pennies, And to soothe, today, the aspect Of a blue eye whose colours dull On a girl of a gems beauty, Of bright renown, who acted falsely.

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6 14 16 19 33

wait: the W. disgwyl can also mean look. Enid: a well-known beauty, see 52.1, 50. mentioning her name: lit., mentioning her. Esyllt: Iseult, see 16.14. house: literally houses. The plural can, occasionally, refer to one building (tai allan). 48 With [just] the two of us: This is a forced interpretation of the W. words Rhm ein hun. An equally forced interpretation would be Between our bouts of slumber. 50 lusts pennies: the girls nipples.

THE HOUSE OF LEAVES

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THE HOUSE OF LEAVES


1

You comely poets, greet a lovely girl (My refined and golden maid, hue Of a fine horizon) whod welcome me In hazels and in birches ([these] May mantles), Shining, proud and fervent above hills borderline A good place for doting on a maidens colour! Proper furnishings of this wild citadel A room is better if it grows! If my darling, a gentle, slender girl Comes to this leaf-house of Gods making, [Her] reward will be the splendid trees, A house unspoilt by soot today. It wont be worse to lie beneath the roof: Holy Gods construction is not worse [than mans]. I and my companion are in harmony; There, in the woods, we can Hear the chattering of birds (Woods minstrels the bright lady loves them), [Hear] poems (weavings in the branches) Of fledglings, the leaves natives; A clan with a sweet story, Chicks of the songsters of the citadel of oak. Boldly will Dewi bless it, Mays hands will erect it, His plumb-line is a tranquil cuckoo, His set-square is woods nightingale, His house-timber a long summer day, And his laths the pang of a love-sick [man]; And the woodland is loves altar, Wisely, and I am his axe. I shall not have, at years starting, The house for longer than this long. Far be it from my mind to give rewards To a hag of an empty hovel; Ill not seek (I report betrayal) [Anything] from a building Ive abandoned.

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13 The reading I have chosen for this line appears in Thomas Parrys alternative readings, Nid gwaeth gorwedd dan gronglwyd. The text as it appears in Parry may be translated as: Beneath the roof theres no work for too many! That is, Dafydd and his lady are quite sufficient for the work of love in the house of leaves. 14 The Welsh word deiliadaeth is ambiguous: it means tenure and also leaving (from leaf), and can mean construction or architecture. Eurys Rolant has shown how richly ambiguous is the poetry of Dafydd, see, for example, his Welsh articles Cywydd Dafydd ap Gwilym i Fis Mai, Lln Cymru, V (1958), 125; Cywyddau Mai, ibid. (1959), 1435; Dafydd ap Gwilym, ibid., VI (1960), 1058; Dafydd ap Gwilym, Y Traethodydd (1967), 1535; Morfudd fel yr Haul, ibid. (1978), 95101. 19 poems: in the original we have cywyddau, poems in a particular type of metre (see p. xv in the Introduction). 23 Dewi: St David, the patron saint of Wales. There is another example of ambiguity here. In spoken Welsh Dewi yn hy can be heard as Dewi boldly, or as dewin hy, a bold magician. 27 The Welsh tywydd in the Welsh text may be weather, or t}-w}dd housetimber. 32 this long: probably refers to the length of the month of May.

MASS IN THE GROVE

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122

MASS IN THE GROVE


1

I was, today, in a pleasant place Beneath the mantles of lovely green hazels, Listening at break of day To the skilful cock-thrush Singing a dazzling englyn Bright omens and bright lessons. [Hes] a pilgrim, wise by nature This grey envoys journeys long. He came here from the fine Caer shire, Requested by my golden girl; He is wordy, [yet] he has no warrant-letter: Nentyrch vale is where hes heading. It was Morfudd who had sent it Metrical song of Mays foster-son. About him hed a mantle Of blossoms of the sweet boughs of May; And his cloak, [so] they imagined, Was of winds wings green[est] mantles. There was not, by the great God, there But all gold for altar roof. I could hear in sparkling words Long chanting, and not faltering; [And] reading to the people (with no rushing) The Gospel without mumbling. Then was raised on an ash hill there A wafer-bread of a good leaf. And a fine, eloquent [and] slender Nightingale (vales poet) rings For all, from the side of a grove near by, The Sanctus bell her whistlings clear! And, to the sky above the grove The Host was elevated; And devotion shown to God the Father With a chalice of passion and love. I am contented with this harmony A birch-grove in the sweet woods raised it.

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5 englyn: the name of more than one kind of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody (see 20.58). 9 It is not by any means certain that the Caer of the Welsh text refers to Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen). Professor R. Geraint Gruffydd has suggested that the Caer could be Chester, and that the envoy was being sent to Ceirio in north Cardiganshire, a more reasonable geographical scenario for this poem. 11 warrant-letter: refers to the custom of allowing safe conduct through enemy lines to envoys with warrant-letters. 12 Nentyrch: Nannerch in Flintshire? 18 mantles: lit., chasubles, garments worn by a celebrant at Mass. 29 For all: lit., for a hundred. 30 Sanctus bell: A bell rung at the Sanctus (so called because of its first words, Holy, Holy, Holy), the angelic hymn at Mass. It represents the end of the Eucharistic preface. 34 The Welsh a, and, in line 33 of the Welsh text has been emended to , with.

THE COCK-THRUSH (B)

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THE COCK-THRUSH (B)


1

Every May, the time for perfect trysting, To the tips of branches in the wood, Upon a fort of glass there comes a sturdy singer, Sprightly under wings of green A lovely cock a gift preferred to any organ Thrush that, by legal licence, sings. He was, in all tongues, a long preacher, A lord of [all] the woodland; In Mays birch-trees hes a Sheriff Hed sing in seven-score tongues; [He is] on twig-ends a fine Justice; Steward of the court of tangled leaves; For long a teacher of my fellowship, A linguist on the top of trees [in] planted places; A loyal lad up high on a green branch, [And] my companion in the wood; He is a singer of the best kind of songs, Combining mind and nature. Whats more, [when I requested him] to go From me to her (the Creirwy Of this world), strongly and proudly He flew with sweet[est] sorcery From place to place impassioned, From grove to grove for a girls sake; He learns to greet and he descends Where the maid is, [and] he is gentle. He spoke my message sweetly, He is faithful, head-marshal of well-being. He showed (one reared with a hundred) The truth within his warrant-letter. He read a speech in metre (a fair [And] comely song) from his house of glass [and] green. He called upon me long and legally From a roll at summers coming. I lost (I did not relish punishment) A legal due by force, a forfeit for contempt.

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Although Id lose, I know, by accumulation, Forfeits underneath green trees, The girls love wont cause a loss to me, [Nor] her sweet powers, nor my complaint to her. If the envoys wise and clever, Hell endeavour to betray her. May God make (she whose thoughts concealed) For my sake and fair Davids An easy contract (my very clever darling) For the envoy ([that] cultivated champion): To let him (love-poet, Judge, May[-month]s Delightful patron, [and] one renowned For goodly wisdom) [come] with his sweet song From Paradise: its there that he belongs.

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There are only two manuscript versions of this poem, but there is no doubt that it is one of Dafydds poems. The two versions are in a bad condition, and it proved impossible to read line 19. The poem portrays the cock-thrush as a court dignitary and a judge who decides that Dafydd must pay for misdeamenours with the girl but, in his final judgement, Dafydd implores the thrush to side with him, the lover. The thrush in May has been let out of Paradise, and Dafydd trusts the birds judgement. 19 20 30 44 As the line is undecipherable the translation is conjectural. Creirwy: a famous beauty, see also 48.15. warrant-letter: for the safe conduct of an envoy, see 122.11. David: Saint David, the patron-saint of Wales.

BOTHER IN A TAVERN

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BOTHER IN A TAVERN
1

I came to a choice city With my comely squire with me. Fine, lively spending [I chose] A place for a good meal (from my youth I have been proud), a fine Enough lodging: and I would have wine. In that house I there espied A fair, slim girl my lovely maid! I put my mind (colour of the eastern sun) Entirely on that slender, blessd one. I bought a roast ([and] not for boasting!) And costly wine, I and my darling. Young men love to gad about I called this girl, a pure maid, out To my bench; and then I whispered Gallantly, boldly (this is true!) two words Of magic; made (I did not hang about) A tryst, to find her out When the crowd would at that inn (A black-browed girl!) be sleeping. And after all, except we two (ah, trip of woe!), Had slept, I had a go At finding this girls bed Most cleverly theres grief [ahead]! I had, when I was muttering, on the spot A nasty fall its none too hot! Its easier to get up (the cost of any evil deed!) In an awkward way than with great speed. I hit (I did not jump unscathed) My shin (and woe my leg) against The side (this was the ostlers work) Of a shrill foolish stool, above my ankle; I got (a sorry story) Up (may Welshmen love me!), I struck (too great ardours not too bright) Where I was put, with no move right (The frequent deceit of crazy banging), My forehead on this tables edging

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Where, in the meantime, a jug was loose And a loquacious bowl of brass. The table fell (a sturdy piece) The trestles, furniture, all these; That bowl of brass, it gave a shout Behind me, it was heard a long way out, (I was very foolish!) the jug gave a bawl And the dogs barked at me [last of all]. Beside the great walls sleeping Were three English men in a stinking Bed; worried they were about their three packs Hickin and Jenkin and Jack. The chop-slobber lad [among them] Whispered in anger to the other two men: Theres a Welshman great commotion of deceit! Walking about this place replete With trickery; a thief if we allow him Take care, keep clear of him. The ostler roused all [at the inn] And [now] the tale was very grim! They frowned their way around me, Searching and seeking about me; And I (ugly [and] unsightly urges!) Kept [very] silent in the dark. Not in brave fashion there I prayed In hiding, like a man afraid. And by the power of prayer [for us] And by the grace of faithful Jesus I got myself (a sleepless huddle there), Without reward, to my own lair. I got away thanks to the nearness Of saints! Of God I plead forgiveness.

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It should be borne in mind, as Professor D. J. Bowen pointed out, that in a hostelry in the Middle Ages the travellers would have slept in a large dormitory, and not in separate rooms. The poem is an example of a mock morality tale.

BOTHER IN A TAVERN

243

24 26 27 35

theres grief [ahead]: lit., there was grief. its none too hot: lit., there were no good feats. the cost of any evil deed: lit., costly or daring evil. not too bright: lit., bad.

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125

THE RATTLE-BAG
1

As I was (when praise is easiest) One summer day beneath [some] trees Between flat fields and mountains Awaiting my soft-spoken maid, She came (Ill not deny it) Where she (a moon, and no denying!) had said. We sat together (splendid topic) Uncertain somewhat I and the maid; I bartered (before the right wears out) Words with this glorious girl. As we were thus (she was not forward) The two of us conceiving of loves meaning, Hiding faults, [and] taking mead, [And] lying, awhile, together, There came (a feebleness bereft of breeding) A shouting (nasty business), A sorry-sounding, small, sack-bottom dinning Creature in a shepherds guise; And he (by all detested) had A peevish, cheek-withered, harsh-horned rattle-bag. He yellow-bellied, little-resting sounded The rattle-bag: woe to that scabrous shank! And there before [our] satisfaction The goodly maid grew frantic; woe is me! When she (breast anguish-brittle) heard The sifting stones, she would no longer tarry. By Christ, no sound in Christendom (A hundred nasty names) was so grating [ever]. A bag at sticks end sounding, A bell clanging of round stones and gravel. Sound of a fiddle full of English balls Vibrating in a bullocks skin. A cage[ful] of three thousand beetles, A cauldron surging, a black bag. A meadow-guardian, old as grass, Black-skinned, with wood-chips pregnant. An accent thats abhorrent to any ancient roebuck, Hells bell, with a pole [right] up its crotch;

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THE RATTLE-BAG

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A scarred stone-bearing helmet, gravel-womb: May it be buckle-laces! A curse upon that shapeless churl, Amen, who scared away my girl.

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126

THE GOOSE-SHACK
1

As I had, once, one night (The girl was fine, [but] woe me for the journey), Come, after wandering, to where [she] was, That wise, accomplished maid:
SHE:

Your [wandering] has that to you seemed long? Youre a lover [and] long-suffering.
HE:

My golden [one], you know its been too long; Why should it not have been so? Then I could hear a very valiant hero (Eyes of lion) take a stag-spring, Make a lightning-rush to chase me Bloodily and wrathfully, Impelled by fury for his glorious wife Most strong, most daring one, by God and by [all] relics! I knew what it was to flee from him The grey lad had a fearful dream!
THE HUSBAND:

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Its high time you had a spur of steel! Wait for me myself tonight. Your verses are poor weapons For [any] satisfaction. I withdrew to a chamber (empty cell), And for geese was it adorned. And from my chamber I declared, Against care no better lair! An old mother goose, with a dent in her beak, Whose feathers were a shelter to her brood Got up and loosed a mantle [all] about me A most vicious foster-mother, she! And this grey [and] most persistent goose attacked me, And destroyed me; beneath herself she hurled me A near kin, she (I was badly beaten), Of a dear, grey, wide-taloned heron!

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THE GOOSE-SHACK

247

My love on the morrow said to me A slender, fair maid with wise, gentle words Seven times worse was it to her Than our plight, and than her husbands words To see an old mother goose with year-old feathers, Bent-necked and silly beating me. If the lordship of the men of Chester And their strict pastimes would allow it, I would do (occasion of offence) To this mother goose (and let who dares alert her) Dishonour to her carcase, nine-years old: For her sport that goose will weep!

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5 an extremely difficult line. Lit., Is it long with you or for you that you are. 1720 Some attribute these words to the girl. 19 verses: lit., cywyddau, see the Introduction, p. xv. 1920 These words are another example of Dafydds doubles entendres. 31 The Welsh cyweirio here translated as beaten can mean castrate.

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127

THE PEAT POOL


1

Alas for the poet (though he might be to blame) Whos worried [and] is lost. Dark is the night on this rough moor, Dark, Oh, that I had a light! Dark over there (no good will [ever] befall me), Dark (its my madness) over here. Dark below, my treacherous land, Dark is the side of the moon. Woe is me that she (of wholly brilliant lineage) So well shaped, knows not how dark it is, [And] that I (all praise [to] her is mine) Am outside [and] in thick darkness. These regions have no pathways; I well know that I was not Were it in daylight competent to point out A township either here or there, Much less (the comforts harsher It is night) without a light or stars! For a poet from another land it is not wise And [is] not fair, in case of fault or treachery, If I am found in the same land as my foe, And caught, I and my dark grey horse. It is not wiser (yonder it is wilder) For us to be discovered whilst departing, After gentle reverence, in a peat pool Drowned, my horse and I! Theres danger on a moor that is an ocean almost! Who can do more in any peat pool? It is a fish-pond to that Gwyn The son of Nudd: alas that we endure it! A pit between ravine and meadow, The place of spectres and their brood. This water Id not willingly imbibe Its theirs by right, and is [their] bath! A lake of acrid wine, a tide of reddish brown, A haven where pigs washed. Ive ruined my hose of Chester kersey In a hollow bog entirely!

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THE PEAT POOL

249

A surge where nets are not too cheap, Stagnant water I am not honoured in it. I dont know why Id go but for dishonour With my horse to this peat pool. A curse upon the dolt (he did not triumph) Who dug it; and did it in hot weather. Its not likely that Ill give (if I reach land) My blessing on this peat-land.

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4 light; lit. torch. 27 that is an ocean almost: or, next to the deep/ocean. 2930 Gwyn the son of Nudd was the legendary King of the Faery Folk, see 26.40. 34 Lit., This is their right and bath. 37 kersey: a coarse type of woollen cloth, usually ribbed. 39 Very difficult. The translation could be: A surge without a net of any grace or A surge where there is no gracious lords net.

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128

INSULTING HIS SERVANT


1

I spent Saint Peters Day in Rhosyr, A place with many splendid men, looking At the style of people with gold treasure, And at the crowd of Anglesey beside the sea. There was there a dainty maid, fair [and] wise And round of neck (she is the sun of Gwynedd, In fiery flourish, [and] of Enids kind), And she was glorious, lovely [and] refined; And she (my lovely, splendid maid) was, in the fair, The very image of the living effigy of Mary. And because of her exquisite and fine face The world [came] after her, [who was] the hue of snow; The crowds all marvelled at (A gift from heaven) the kind of girl she was. And I (wounded, sleepless as I was) To get a girl kept watching always: No young man ever was as joyful [and] sincere Of mind, and as small in his discernment. In her vicinity (that lovely armful), [But] from afar, indeed, Id be Until she (of deep gentility) went into A bright loft of light, attractive stone. Twenty of my fellow-suitors Turned towards me [and] about me. I, the best, [most] splendid youth, tasted The wine its dear for that lord who wants it! At once (unsatisfying work) I bought a full two gallons [of it].
DAFYDD: Go, lad, from my pleasant precinct; Take this to the pretty girl [we saw] just now. Run to her ear and whisper In her majestic hair, and swear That shes the girl in Gwynedd I love the most, by God who rules.

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Come unto her chamber; Say, Greetings to you, splendid lady!

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251

Shrewd, of noble line, here is a gift To you, my fair, [my] darling girl.
GIRL:

Is this not a vulgar city? Why do we not know you, boy? It is very foolish, an unseemly thought: Suppose I ask who gave it?
SERVANT: Dafydd, a poet of exquisite passion, A dark, grey man, and Im his envoy. His praise in Gwynedd has gone far; Listen to it: it tolls like any bell. GIRL:

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By the Five Wounds, get up And beat him! Where are all of you? She took the sparkling city wine And poured it in my servants hair! That was to me dishonour; Marys curse Upon my bold, [and] sprightly treasure! If she did wittingly disgrace me There (acknowledging thoffence), [Though] her cloak be of caddice and of azure Let her foolish lips lack wine! If I (a sturdy girder), had known this [Then] Madog Hir could have her, my precious. It is not likely Einion Dot (a landlord Bold [and] ugly) would have her in any pot-house. She (beauty of a lively seagull) will watch Her ear wholly with her eye Forever from now on, whenever I may send To the girl whos out of touch with passion A spoonful like it, lump it Of lukewarm water as a gift.

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1 Saint Peters Day: 29 June. Rhosyr: Niwbwrch (Newborough), on Anglesey.

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7 Enid: a renowned beauty, see 52.1, 50. 32 hair: in Welsh we have twf (growth). 47 Five Wounds: the five wounds of Christ on the cross. The girl then orders her servants to beat Dafydds messenger. 55 caddice: expensive material. 57 girder: W. cwpl, one of the principals in a building on which the purlins rest. 58 Madog Hir: obviously a character in some story, but nothing is now known of him. 59 Einion Dot: nothing is known of him. 62 There is a proverb: Seeing his ear with his eye, that is, doing something impossible.

DAWN

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DAWN
1

It was loudly I lamented; the night Before last was a [very] long night. That night [ah] modest, bright, fair maid One night was a week, my dear! But the man of judgement says a word theres no denying: A fair maid makes [all] the night[s] [seem] short. Last night was I in a dreadful state, Fair Nyf, with heavens candle, Demanding pay for sleeplessness, Well respected [and] beside a maid. When my grasp was firmest, And ardour at its highest (black was her brow), The highest plane [in] restless craving, Ah, true God, behold day dawning! Get up, said the brightly mantled maid, This is secret. See there the lively sign! Grievous tears are your kindred! The devil take you; see the day down there.
DAFYDD:

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Tall, goodly maid, fair, gentle, slender, This is not true; thats something better: It is the moon which Lord God gave, With stars [there] all around it. If I give it a real name, It is [the] day by supposition.
GIRL:

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A likely story! If that were true Why is the crow up singing?


DAFYDD:

Some creatures there are trying To kill her, disturbing her slumber.
GIRL:

28

In the town, there, dogs are barking, Whilst others mongst themselves are fighting.

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DAFYDD: Believe my no [here] near [to you], Dogs at night are used to fighting. GIRL: Dont make excuse[s], you song-server: A shallow mind will say that pain is far away. While on a journey (as with booty), Venture forth into your day: its morning! For Christs sake, get up quietly, And open, there, that heavy door. Steps of the two feet are long indeed, The dogs are really frantic: run out to the wood. DAFYDD: Ah me! The woods not far, And I am quicker than a dog. If no crafty man will see me, Ill not be caught (God grant it) on this land. GIRL: Tell me this, you good, hard-working poet, Whether, for Gods sake, you will come here [again]? DAFYDD: I am your nightingale, indeed, my dear, If night will come, [then] Ill come [with her]!

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12 In Welsh, the night before last is one word, echdoe. 8 Nyf: a womans name, see 71.24. 13 The Welsh words uchaf len cause difficulties. Here they have been translated as highest plane, and they refer to the height of the poets ecstasy. Llen can also mean sheet or coverlet and the phrase could be translated loosely as the sheet above or upper sheet. 16 This is secret: lit., Keep this secret or Hide this. 23 real name: or undisputable name. 356 These lines are extremely difficult to translate. 44 on this land: lit., from this much land. 48 her: refers to the night (W. nos) which is of the feminine gender.

THE ECHO

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THE ECHO

(Literally: The Echo Stone) Few vicious stones have The same habit (a cold [and] frenzied witch) As this hollow, thick-lipped stone, A bitch with gauche afflictions. It says more without stopping On a hill crest after rain Than Myrddin that rowdy, very angry one Son of Seven Locks, the wild man. It was near me, to deny me, Whilst I was hunting close to it And waiting for a maid below a meadow, Beneath a hanging, welcoming wood-grove. She was seeking me demurely; I, for my part, was seeking that dear gem, Just like the two bold, horned, Old oxen What is it that you want? Each called unto the other; To come together (t would be good!) The girl and I, that is my hope, In the shadow of the rocks [most] mournful stone. Clever jester, in spite of our Quiet talking [with] intense commitment, It would respond and give rejoinder Hollowly in its own tongue. The girl grew pale (that golden, slender image), Took fright with its lamenting, Falsely free; then fled What girl would not scarper well? Indeed, a chill affliction, doubled double, Upon the throat of that hoarse rock-ravine! A heap that blares like any trumpeter, A bare cairn like a fortress of hewn stone. There is inside it (an old [and] ugly cupboard) Either a fiend, or dogs that sound [Like] clatter inside the hollow rock, Or else the noise of basins.
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A nightmare yell that kills a bare, old goose; The howl of a strong bitch beneath a crooked chest. A raucous witch [whos] hoarsely shouting From the rock, provoking fear. Deemed a malicious lady, quite forbidding Where the maid was it hindered me, Prevented a proposal to a lad: A curse on it for thwarting him!

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78 Myrddin was a poet, a visionary and a famous lover; he is the Merlin associated with King Arthur. A handful of early Welsh tales about him show that he spent fifty years as a madman in the Forest of Celyddon, in the north of Britain. Son of Seven Locks (of hair) is not clear, unless the words refer to Myrddin as a wild man. 24 Hollowly: or, perhaps, deceitfully. 41 Extremely difficult.

YESTERDAY

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131

YESTERDAY
1

The day before yesterday was a day without sin, Yesterday God was good to Dafydd. The day before yesterday [that] day was not ([By] laws bequest) the same as yesterday. Bad it was (a kind of goal thats very bare) that the day Before yesterday was a brother to wise yesterday. O magnificent, great Mary of the day before yesterday, Will there ever be a day like yesterday? O glorious God of the chaste way, Will there ever be for me another yesterday? I greet yesterday, far more than the day before, With a hundred salutations. Yesterday, old Dafydd (a hidden passions A vexation) was avenged with new affection. After my wounding (blind am I) Im as tough as an apple-tree withe That bends easily and after a rough buffeting, Vexatious clashing, does not break. There is in me (faint memory of joy) The soul of an old, cold cat; Let its body of grey aspect be hurt, be battered, Let whatever come upon her, shell survive. I am a slow pedestrian (wise in loves affliction) Across a rood where others run, And master of a bright, good feat In spite of torment where the exploit may be best. Deliberation is far better (a good saying In the gush of passion) than gold: I am a pilgrim. O God, is rashness of any use to me? Do they know what caution is? Toilings stronger (Im passions swimmer) Than [any] villainy: Im valiant! Morfudd of the hue of shining snow Would to her man be good at last. I did right to praise her; If not right, the devil take me! Good night to the girl of bright[est] greeting, And good day, for she was not in earnest. It is she Ive overcome [well] almost Aha! the wife of Bwa Bach.

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The awkward day before yesterday is one word in Welsh, echdoe. Lit., Will there be a yesterday to me in my lifetime. withe: a tough, flexible branch. joy: lit., a smile. The Welsh word llwydwydd is a compound of llwyd (grey) and gw}dd (branches or wood), or a form of gwedd (aspect) as I have translated it here. 278 The W. proverb Gwell pwyll nag aur (Deliberation is better than gold) is incorporated in these lines. 312 Another W. proverb Trech llafur na direidi (Toil is stronger than villainy/evil) is incorporated in these lines. 40 Bwa Bach: Little Crookback, Morfudds husband. 10 16 19 21

CAROUSING

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CAROUSING
1

I paid for a draught (like one about To pay persistently), for a golden flow of drink. I paid lavishly [and] cheerfully A steep price, by the light of Christ. A payment, not for a salty nip, [but for] Costly wine for my girl with golden hair. I succeeded splendidly (I deserved tranquillity: Good work, easy, long, remarkable, A fine apprenticeship of passion) in giving a proper crop Of the vines of France for one white-faced [as] any stream. If we were I and the gentle maid On Easter Day in Gascony (let it be soon!), It would be splendid if our drink (For the one with shining hair) were claret. According to the tavern-server (He loves me long, will hardly loathe me) Today was the fourth good day For verses at my invitation. Then said I, pretending to reproach, A pity it was not one third of a day! My two marks will induce a girl (A girl of proper favour) to drink. For the lovely ladys sake wine was seen On the table strongly gushing. The round is large (its a wild region) And the lover who drinks it is saucy! With ease I drink unstinted spending: He drinks with ease who sees his girlfriend frisky!

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133

A KISS (A)
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All hail forever to today, lively [And] doubly unique, it merits praise, Its a divine way, far excels the wasting way Of yesterday or the day before. The solace (of French aspect) of yesterday Is nothing like that of today. The song of yesterday is not ([for] it is fickle) Like todays, of lively, good reward. Yeah, God the Father, will there ever Be a day as vivid as this lively day? I received a lively gift today, a challenge It is to yesterday, whose gift is lagging. I had the value of (it made me laugh) One hundred shillings and a mark a lip-mantle, The girls kiss (Im faithful), The fair Luneds, a white light. A gentle, lovely Calend-gift By Mary, hear [me] a lock upon a lip. It keeps in me the good girls love (An omen of great anguish), it is a knot on love. Comes to me the memory to bear it Great bounty of a maidens love. A Carmarthen (by mouth decree) Crown [all] around my lips. Fair pax of lips of earnest love, Fair knot between a slender poet and a maid. This ones nature no one will perceive it: Two breaths in congress, it is good. I was granted (and for this wealth, whoopee!) The lip-trinket of a gentle [and] wise maid. Im strong for having it (the brow of [my] ambition), Lips treasure glossy, gentle, highly praised. I shout its praise, a rich encounter, I trembled with the clear breath. Loves knot in double setting, Round citadel of exquisite, perfect lips! As long as I had (two contests without malice) This on my lips (harvest of praise!),

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A KISS (A)

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It is to me a treasure, three times the taste of honey; Three sighs for me if Tyrel can attain it, And if he can win, too, the tender beauty [She whos] always flirting, whose fondlings far-acclaimed. There was no evil less (shell frown on me) Than Luneds fist upon me! She set forth, she put her seal (I was a fool) upon my praise to her. No word of praise will ever come to any maid From my tongue (it causes passions ferment) Except what comes (gull-wonderful of aspect), Upon my faith, to her, the lovely Luned. The breath of loves pain is a wish: O God, in my life will there ever be for me Such a day (a glorious sunlit day, With my vivacious woman) as today?

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16 Luned here appears to be the girls name rather than a reference to a famous beauty (see 43.6). 17 Calend-gift: a gift given on the first day of the year. 234 A Carmarthen crown is probably a silver coin, although it appears that no coins were minted in Carmarthen in the fourteenth century. However, the treasury of south Wales and its administrative centre were at Carmarthen. 25 pax: a box called pax (W. pacs) was kissed during readings from one of the evangelists (W. efengyl). For this reason both of these words pacs and efengyl came to mean kiss in Welsh. 30 trinket: could, perhaps, be translated as treat. 40 Tyrel: it has been argued that he is Hugh Tyrel, who received lands from Edward III between 1334 and 1338. Dafydd says that Tyrel may have been given lands but the girl in the poem will not give him a kiss. Professor D. J. Bowen has suggested that the reference is to Jean Tyrel, who won a lawsuit against Edward III in 1359.

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134

NEWBOROUGH
1

Hail to thee, long lovely dawn, Newborough town, home of true hope, And its fair [and] lovely temple, its green towers, And its wine and its folk and its men, And its beer and its mead and its loving, And its bountiful men and free provision. Rhosyr is a cosy corner, Its a field for men to play; A country home, preventing leaving: That town there is heavens [own] cousin! A rich host of the true [and] bounteous, A homely place, Mns burial-place for mead! It is, of all towns, heavens contender, It is, to me, mead-cell and castle, The pathways of our fame, a royal place, A great host from all places praise it. A place where its not vain to sing, Place of true men, where wealth is for the having, An easy place for poets, a place of lavish tables; [And] by my troth, a place for me! Best tower of praise, of free [and] lively circuit, Best town, neath heaven, is it for talent; It is a faultless, open pantry, A hearth, a poets fire-ring; A payment to support Five Ages, Their courtesy to me and wisdom are long lasting. Renownd orchard for [all] drinks, Rebirth-cauldron of all bounteous kings. The honour of all city-commoners [indeed], Headland of fresh, sparkling drink[s] of mead.

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1 dawn: used as a praise-metaphor. 2 Newborough: the old Welsh name was Rhosyr (see l.7). It was changed to Newborough (W. Niwbwrch) in 1305. 12 Mn: Anglesey. 15 a royal place: the remains of a royal court were recently discovered in Rhosyr, in a place called Cae Llys. 18 true men: lit., true man; could also be translated as faithful girl. 21 circuit: here probably means bardic circuit, visits by poets to various houses where they were employed.

NEWBOROUGH

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24 fire-ring: a twig whose tip was set alight and which was then whirled around to make red patterns to entertain children. 25 Five Ages; an old division of the time before Christ, see poem 1, l.4. 28 Rebirth-cauldron: the magic Celtic vessel referred to in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi; dead men cast into it came out alive.

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135

SEIZING A GIRL
1

The other night I was, in graceless Loves obsession, a thief: Id have a girl; The regions beauty above [me] compelled me completely To be there, stealthily, a maiden-snatcher, A poet feeble from obsession with a beauty: Woe the rash thief for his charmed slumber! As to the way I had her (better [She] than beaten gold) alas for that anxiety! After having (a song makes this lament) Wine and mead (the fair [and] gentle gem) They, paltry jealous men, were drunk (My exquisite pain), the men and boys. After creating pandemonium, they Foolish people fell asleep. A din of roaming-bears, like a raucous rabble, For a long time like a herd of swine! Great was the misfortune of the merchant They were drunkards from this jaunt. The white-toothed maid, she was not drunk (I am not feeble), would not drink. If I was drunk (I know all that was had), I was, say those who know it, drunk with love! The timid two, although they lowered The lightd wax-flame of the candle (A long story for a poet of bright kin!), She of the hue of lively ebb-tide foam, My darling, would not sleep: I did not sleep, In spite of my great drunkenness. Then I thought of trying to get her From this evil lair into yonder wood. Though it was hard (mans sore vexation) To get her (of Mays beauty) from Her thin spouse, I took her By Marys living image, I was bold! The men did not know that she Moon-beauty of the region was there; If they had known, theyd not think much (For her, once a lovely lady) of taking off my head.

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SEIZING A GIRL

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If the maid goes with express purpose To share a binge with them, Her parents (hideous people) will keep the girl From any meeting with her poet. It will be long ([King] Maelgwns lengthy slumber) For us, nights nightingales, to wait for her.

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1415 Should these lines come after lines 1718? It makes sense that the carousers fell asleep after creating their commotion. 43 Is probably a reference to the W. proverb Hir hun Faelgwn yn eglwys Rhos (Maelgwn sleeps long in the church of Rhos). Maelgwn was a king of north Wales who died of the plague c.AD 547. The Rhos of the proverb is Llandrilloyn-Rhos, not far from Llandudno.

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136 A GREY FRIARS COUNSEL Yesterday at Mass I heard The golden englyn of a heaven-sent angel, And oration of very solemn matters, And round construction, and Christs awdl. The disciple of the Son of Mary taught me; Thus he spoke [his] easy praise:
FRIAR:

Dafydd, of a somewhat sober mind, With no equal for a poem, [and] of good repute, Impose upon the inspiration of your tongue Gods patronage; and dont tell lies. Of woods, of wretched triple assignations, Of leaves theres nothing but inconstancy. Give up going out with girls, For Marys sake attempt to hate the mead. Neither tops of trees nor tavern were worth One green bean: its Gods word only that is worthy.
DAFYDD: By the Man that rules this day, Theres an ache in my head for a splendid maid, And in my brows the wound of caring: For a golden girl Im dying.

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2 englyn: the name of more than one kind of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody, see 20.58. 4 awdl: a poem, using more than one of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody.

THE POET AND THE GREY FRIAR

267

137

THE POET AND THE GREY FRIAR


1

Woe is me, the well-known maid Whose court is found within the glade Heard not the words that mousy had to say Concerning her today. I went there to the Friar To confess my sin; I clearly confessed its true I was a kind of poet, And that I had always loved A white-faced, black-browed maiden; But, for the death of me, with her Id had no luck or favour, But that I loved her steadily And long, and for her love ailed greatly; Had taken throughout Wales her praises And yet had not attained her, And wished to feel her in my bed Between me and the parapet. Then the Friar said to me: I would give you good advice If youve loved her, the hue of foam (Of paper colour!) long till now, Ease the pain of the Day to come: It will profit your soul to cease, And be silent with your rhyming And give yourself to praying. Its not for a cywydd or an englyn That God redeemed mans soul. All your songs, you poet-wandrers, Are only lies, vain cries, And urging men and women To falsehood and to sin. Praise of the flesh, that is not well; That may bring your soul to hell. And I gave answer to him For every word heard of him:

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

God is not as cruel As old men do tell; God wont damn the soul of man For love of maid or woman. Three things are loved the whole world over: A woman, and health, and good weather. A girls the fairest flower In heaven, apart from God himself. It is from women that all men Were born, apart from three men. And for this reason its not strange That girls are loved and women. All joys come from heaven [through grace], And sadness from the Other Place. A song makes all men joyful, The young and old, the hale, the ailing. As needful to me my singing As is, to you, your preaching, And as proper my wandering As is, to you, your begging. Are not your hymns and sequences But poetry and verses? What are the Prophet Davids Psalms But verses [made] to Holy God? Its not with just one food or relish That God provides for man. There is a time set by for eating, And a time set by for praying; There is a time set by for preaching, And a time for entertaining. A song is sung at every feast To make the maidens merry; And in Church are prayers [sung] To seek the land of Paradise. It was the truth that he was speaking Ystudfach, with his bards carousing A full house for a happy face: Evil awaits a sullen face.

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THE POET AND THE GREY FRIAR

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Though some may care for sanctity, Others love frivolity. Not many can compose [with care], A cywydd, but all know pater noster. So, Brother Dogmatic, [youre quite wrong]; The greatest sin is not a song. When all men are as keen to hear Upon the harp [the sound] of prayer As the girls of Gwynedd are To hear sung a merry song, By my hand, Ill keep on singing My prayers without ever ceasing. Until that day it would be wrong To sing my prayers, not my song.

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The Grey Friars were the Franciscans. 11 with her: lit., with the lady. 21 the hue of foam: is a mockery of the usual poetic images. 22 paper colour: gives the Friars image of the true state of a womans beauty since paper will become discoloured and blotchy. 23 the Day to come: the Day of Judgement. 25 your rhyming: lit., your cywyddau. 27 cywydd: a poem in seven-syllable lines which rhyme in couplets, see the Introduction, p. xv. englyn: the name of more than one kind of the twenty-four metres of Welsh prosody, see 20.58. 34 to hell: lit., to the devil. 35 to him: lit., to the Friar/Brother. 36 Lit., For every word that he said. 39 man: lit., gentle man or gentleman. 434 The reference is to the Virgin Mary. 46 The three men (which includes women) not born of woman are Adam, Eve and Melchisedek. 50 Lit., And all sadness from hell. 72 Ystudfach: a wise man about whom virtually nothing is known. 78 pater noster: the Lords Prayer. 87 Lit., Until then it would be a disgrace to Dafydd.

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138 THE BLACK FRIARS COUNSEL I think it is for profit That patriarch makes his charge God only knows the black friars Sense [and] talk and understanding! These go, with their false faith, About the world with avarice (Dull congregation of companions!) Ever under yokes in pairs. Then was I given a harsh lie By this coarse-talking Friar, As he tried (no easy contact!) To corrupt me with his brashness. This is how this solemn, Brass-tongued Brother counselled me.
FRIAR:

12

Consider when you see a woman How quickly will she turn to sod. Her shape, and this is certain, In earth will lose all value.
DAFYDD: Though the lumpish sward may turn Foul of form, red-haired black friar, The comely radiant flesh, proud beauty, Will become of lime-white colour. FRIAR:

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Your love for the slender, shining maid, Gold-haired, with radiant and long tresses, Will bring you to flesh-scalding cauldron[s], And from their pain youll not be brought.
DAFYDD: Then I said to him, Black Brother, Creature, shut your mouth: Its an unworthy turn for you To make one grieve to silence.

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THE BLACK FRIARS COUNSEL

271

Despite your perjury and persistence, Your terrible words and your foul talking, Shame on me, Dafydd, if I may Refuse ten fair ones in one day!

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The Black Friars were the Dominicans. 8 Lit., Ever under the yoke in pairs. Cf. Matthew 11.29: Take my yoke upon you . . . 26 Lit., And you will never be brought out of the cauldron of pain.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

139

MORFUDD GROWN OLD


1

God grant life, unstinting grace (That crow of servile virtue) to the friar in long [and] hairy habit. Those who blaspheme this friar whos a shadow Of the form of that Lord of Rome Of high regard, they deserve no peace; (Bare foot, a man whose hairs a nest of briars, This habit is a net that walks the world, A kind of cross-beam), the Spirits blessing [on him]. A confessor, cantor of wise words Of the glorious God (a kite), well does he sing. His homes charters privilege is great (Hes a ram from heavens summit), Wise words from his mouth flow fluent, Life from his lips, [hes] Marys wizard! He said (words that were tough with wisdom!) Of the maids hue who does not cheat [that] often:
FRIAR:

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Take for yoursef, chief lord of a hundred, A shirt of [fine] cambric and crystal. Wear it, for a week dont you discard it This dainty raiment for your smooth, long-lasting flesh! The lady of choice pedigree (a tale like that of Deirdre) Will be more black: Ill sigh two sighs! Friar-man, slick-talking, grey [and] bald: So spoke the black one of a womans beauty. Were I a Pope, Id not have done With Morfudd whilst I lived, cold lad. But now (accusations of vexation) The Creators made her ugly So that theres not, of the sound good life that was, One grey tress that so lacks lustre (A treachrous providence) on one who followed beauty: A maids hue does not last like gold. Queen of the land of sleeplesness, Whose beauty caused, for men, despair; How fine she was; lifes one brief waking, It is a dream; how soon its done!

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MORFUDD GROWN OLD

273

A broom upon a brewery floor, An elder-tree, half-barren, grey. But tonight I shall not have (a sick one who is ailing) One wink of sleep unless Im there: It is a bout of the girls love, An old thief, like a nightmare. She was made bewitchingly, Shes bewitching, shes thieving; shes grey. Shes an old sling-arm of an Irish mangonel, Shes a cold summer-dwelling but, once, she was fair.

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The words in italics are sotto voce exclamations revealing the poets true feelings towards the friar. These feelings come out in the open as the poem progresses. 4 The Lord of Rome is the Pope. 18 cambric and crystal: the crystal would have been the buttons on the shirt. 21 I have emended the Welsh text Dirdras fm (I was of choice pedigree) to Dirdras fun (the lady of choice pedigree). Deirdre: the famous Irish beauty whom King Conchobar married. She fell in love with Nois and ran away with him. Conchobar pursued them and brought her back in his chariot. Rather than go back to his court and his bed she cast herself on rocks and died she was a beauty who was shockingly damaged. 22 The woman will be more black than the shirt. 256 Very difficult text. The lines could be translated as I would not have done were I a Pope with Morfudd whilst I was a cold/unfeeling lad. But the Welsh oerfab (cold/unfeeling/frigid lad) appears to be a better description of the friar than of Dafydd. 31 Extremely difficult text. The line could be translated as: There is a treacherous providence at the time of persecution [i.e., when one grows old]; or possibly as: A treacherous provision for one whose beautys fading [lit. being pursued], or possibly for one whose beauty made men pale. 37 The broom is, of course an image for Morfudd grown old. 3940, 42: These lines are also found in poem 46, ll.6970, 78. 41 bout: as in a bout of illness, but lit. it means a battering of illness (W. hwrdd + haint) and is related to mangonel of l.45. 44 Grey is the colour llwyd, but it is also a play on Morfudds family name Llwyd. 45 mangonel: this was an engine of war used to hurl rocks. It had a wooden frame and a flexible beam which was bent back and then unleashed to hurl the rocks. Morfudd is now old like this beam, and probably bent as well, but, as Thomas Parry suggested, she could still be dangerous her potency has not entirely ceased, for Dafydd.

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140

A FORTRESS AGAINST ENVY


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The envy, feeble Britons, Of Caesars nation, a bold host, Was a plague upon it (if it were fulfilled) And made it (its worse than any truth) Captive to impediment and malice. And it is an envious nature To deny, with one intent, A handsome man his talent and his glory. Hell have sorrow, by God the Lord of heaven, From the horde of Envy. There are more prohibitions [put] on me By the rood, than on any (Im some kind of lad under strong restraint) By cold people I [well] know from what parish. Some, by dint of good prediction, Give me advantage, and augment it: And the shits, they gossip (Oh! give [me] strength) and do [me] wrong. God (by nature life-protector) gave me A fortress (the hearts fine strength) to keep me As good for fear of mans revenge Against his enemy as Calais. Retreat wont prosper (a good hearts A citadel of Troy) wretched loving. The two breasts are lofty, secret, Steely spikes; the bellys the tower of Babylon. One man of mighty passion Would keep a castle (cell of song) Against those men who gossip, By careful conduct, whilst there would be provisions; With hope of the affection Of gentle Angharad a rampart; And a sling-stone of pleasantness Against base grovelling or scorn; And the twofold and unbending breastplate Of the profound peace of the true God my Father; The watchman is a red-eyed look on fine, proud [men] Upon the towers battlement;

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A FORTRESS AGAINST ENVY

275

The latimer, who is reported yonder, Is the governors lively ear; And the porter (I am never worried) Is, by grace of God, the tongue; The exterior buildings are The hands and feet: they wont be moved. God the Father, it is yours: In your tower put provisons. A mans inside dont leave that empty And reviled in case its captured. To keep it from [all] felons, seek the choir Of saints land near to sky and stars. Threaten thou the threateners, hateful horde, Of that refined [and] lively lad: On our wanderings we know (A cold command) which ones they are. If the mighty-anchored sea could flow Through the stout King Edwards arse, The poet to a bright, beautiful, Bountiful maid is alive; and [pray] let this be true.

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18 As envy was a blight upon great Caesars nation, so is it a blight on the poets life. 22 Calais: an extremely well-fortified stronghold in France. 24 Troy: the noted Classical stronghold. 32 Angharad: a member of a Buallt family, in mid-Wales. Her husband was a Ieuan Llwyd. See poem 16. 39 latimer: an interpreter or translator. 52 The lad is the poet. 56 This may be an allusion to the siege of Calais by Edward III in 13467.

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141

HIS SHADOW
1

Yesterday I was beneath the best of leaves Waiting for a girl, the like of Elen, And sheltering from the rain beneath The green mantle of the birch, like any fool. Then could I see a figure Standing, uncomely, by himself. I fled across, away from him, Like any gracious man; And against foul pestilence I blessed My body with the signs of saints.
DAFYDD: Tell me here, [and] dont be silent, Whether youre a man, [and] who you are? SHADOW:

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I am and dont ask questions Your own remarkable shadow. For Marys sake, be silent, dont hamper [your] advantage, So that I can tell my message. I come, [and by] good custom, Here beside you naked, To show you (jewel of demure plea), What kind of thing you are: youre spell-bound. : No, I am a gentleman; you ugly knave Of a fiends size, [and] I am not like that. You, shaped like a hunch-backed goat, Are more like (a sorry likeness!) A phantom full of longing Than a man of proper shape. Youre a bickering herdsman, chequer-cloaked, With witchs shanks, black-stilted; A shepherd of fiends of ill-repute, A bogey like a tonsured monk; Horse-keeper playing gree-horse, A full-fed heron grazing bog-reeds; A crane with wings extended [By] owls bastions, at corns edge;
DAFYDD

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With the face of a fool of a pilgrim, A black friar of a man dressed up in old rags; Corpse-shaped, wrapped up in hemp; Where have you been, old barnyard prop?
SHADOW:

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Many a day, were I to taunt you, I have been with you: Woe to you for what I know about you.
DAFYDD: Pitcher-neck, what other fault Do you know I have Besides whats known to men of sense The whole world over? [And] devils shit to you! Ive not reviled my homeland, Ive not dealt, I know, a crooked blow, Ive not, with sling, cast stones at hens, Ive not frightened little children, I wont misuse my talent, Ive not stopped a strange mans wife. SHADOW:

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By my troth, were I to tell Those who dont know what I know (A dire moment), before thincitings Stopped, I know that youd be hanging!
DAFYDD:

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Take care (yours is a cruel snare) You wont tell, ever, what you know More than you would if there were (whilst you are mine!) Stitches in the edges of the mouth.

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2 Elen: probably Helen of Troy. 31 gree-horse: a kind of game. 32 A full-fed heron: could be A full-grown heron.

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142

THE SONG
1

Upon a bench-end, with my hands I learnt a song of paradise; And the learning mans improvement Gilded, for a time, the harp. This is the song, upon my bench [And] on a tryst, all interwoven, Of worthy praise for a kings heiress I composed with passions prick. The girls of the regions, they Say of me, and it will be my talent: This is a simple tune, [and] of the obvious sort; And he who brings it is a simple bloke. Out of my poor sham I sang, in sol-fa, An easy psalm (rich is my privilege), And a song with the loving melody; The young men say [it is] a sign Of a rewarding note of sweet [and] skilful inspiration It brings me praise: it is a tune for poets. The singing voice of a radiant, joyful bird: This is a song that handsome poets want. Woe is me that Dyddgu (the hankering is strong) Does not hear this bardic song. If shes alive, shell hear it beneath the perch Of a grey-mantled nightingale of celebrated song, Of Hildrs expertise, just under the top string. Too much song? A drunk man sang it; A string with laboured din, clocks clamour, Of mournful resonance, style of an English sauterie. No ready piper out of France, nor master singer Made such a song of harmony. Let his lips, his cywydd, And his ten nails be worthless Who may sing a song to the glory (God wont reproach him, nor harp music) Of a bright, radiant, glad-eyed girl When hes allowed to sing this song.

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THE SONG

279

The poem refers to Dafydd learning a tune on the harp. He plucks the strings with his nails. 8 prick: a pointed instrument. 25 Hildr: obviously he was once an eminent musician. 28 sauterie: an ancient and medieval stringed instrument, played by plucking the strings with the fingers or a plectrum. 31 cywydd: one of the twenty-four strict metres of Welsh poetry; see the Introduction, p. xv. 316 The point here appears to be that the poet curses anyone who is allowed to sing his song but does not do so. 33 I have emended the texts cerdd ogoniant to gerdd ogoniant. 36 When hes allowed: lit., And hes allowed.

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143

THE SWORD
1

Sword, very long and grey of form Are you, by God, along the thigh. Your blade (a bold [and] handsome lord) Allows no shame to its bedfellow. I keep you on my right-hand side: May God preserve your keeper. My plaything, you are lovely; Im a master: youre my might. My darlings spouse loves not that Im alive; Strong his obstruction, master of [all] trickery, That mum, whos famed for baseness, His evils thick, his frowning foolish, like an ox: Sometimes hes silent, [in] good humour; And sometimes he will threaten me. Whilst I have you, strong lord of passion, Despite his threat, [you] mighty weapon, May there be coldness on his bed! And may your master burn if he should flee Either on horse (thought to have no dignity) Or on foot because of that man there, Unless he, for two angry words, inflicts on me (Most hateful thing to Jaloux) in your time [some] punishment. Battle-bite to put to flight a foe, Cyrseus, two-edged shearer of men. Youre worthiest rod for any hand; Youre clean of rust, youre flint, an omen For battle-crows that rove about for war; Let Deira-men retreat; [very] hard are your two edges. A point of fiery lightning on a belt, Ill keep you in your lattice-house. Sharp to me against an enemy, Fair, bright [and] sharp-grooved sword. Sharp, mighty weapon, this is my golden creed, Where I give you hand and licence: Lest there be in castle grove Some kite at night to hinder us, Child revelling in fire-rod rings, Run, steel, [just] like a wheel of fire.

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THE SWORD

281

Shield of Cuhelyn, dont you hide Within my hand if the man comes. Valiant wheel, of bright assault, You, good steel, are war itself. This will keep me free of villains, Hauteclaires successor, most necessary sword. Ill be an outlaw a long time Beneath the trees, I and my modest maid. To me, to be an outlaw is not churlish, If the girl asks it not from love of wealth. Some of the kin will vindicate me; My trail is thick by the dwelling of my dear. Im no deserter, I am Ovid: A lovers heart is always noble.

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22 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. 24 Cyrseus: the sword of Otfel in the legend of Charlemagne. two-edged: lit., two-lipped. 28 Deira: the Angle kingdom in north-east England, traditional seat of the enemy. 29 The W. cae, translated here as belt (which holds the swords scabbard), can be translated as field. 37 fire-rod ring: a twig whose tip was set alight and whirled about to create red patterns; see also 134.24. 39 Cuhelyn: a famous poet who had a remarkable shield; see also 25.41. But it may well be that what we have here is a reference to the great Irish hero C Chulainn Sir John Morris-Jones suggested that Cuhelyn is the W. form of the Irish name. 40 the man: presumably, the girls husband. 44 Hauteclaire: the sword of Oliver, Rolands companion in the story of Charlemagne. Hauteclaires successor: lit., Hauteclaires grandson. 48 not from love of wealth: a slight emendation to the Welsh text, nid o serch da > neud o serch da would also be appropriate: it comes from good/true love. 51 Ovid: yet another reference to the Classical love-poet; see 6.16.

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144
POET:

THE RUIN

You broken, open-butted dwelling, Between moorland and lea, Alas for those who saw you (they supposed) Long ago hospitable and homely, And see you now with shattered top, Beneath a lath-roof, a battered, broken house; And, too, that time (pains castigation) When by your lively walls, Inside you, was more pleasant Than [now] it is, you scabbd roof; When I (who brightly bore her praise) Beheld a fair one in a nook inside you, A maiden, gentle was she, genial, With shining tresses, lying with me; And each ones arms (richness of a girls embrace!) Were entwined about the other. The maidens arm (sharp white of flurried snow) Beneath the ear of the best man for praise, And my arm, by simple ploys, was laid Beneath the left ear of that gentle, noble girl. In your green trees with joy a time of ease: But today is not that day.
RUIN:

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I moan (encampment [once] of magic words) About the way the wild wind came. From the deep of the east a tempest Brought pain on [my] stone wall. The wail of the wind, in swirls of anger, From the south stripped off my roof.
POET:

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Was it the wind, of late, that caused this havoc? Last night it threshed your roof too well. Rudely did it tear your laths; The world is ever awesome magic. Your nook (this will explain my double-wailing) Was once my bed, and not a pigsty.

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Yesterday you were in noble fashion Snug above my gentle darling. An easy trysting! Youre today Unbeamed, by Peter, and unlathed. Various matters cause much madness: Is this, the torn house, some delusion?
RUIN:

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Dafydd, this households span of livelihood Is dead and done: that living once was good.

open-butted: or, open-arsed. Than [now] it is: lit., Than you are. This line also appears in poem 53, l.29. The word encampment suggests a place without permanence where once the talk was good. The line could as well have been translated, following R. Geraint Gruffydds suggestion in his article on this poem (see J. E. Caerwyn Williams (ed.), Ysgrifau Beirniadol XI (Dinbych, 1979), 10915), as: I moan (the horde that is bewitched). The horde here refers to the winds passage like that of a magic horde, see lines 412. 25 the deep of the east: lit., from the bosom of the east. 412 Lit., Part of this lines toil has gone,/ Dafydd, beneath a cross: yet was that life once good. R. Geraint Gruffydd has suggested that the teulu of the Welsh text may refer to the Horde of the Faery King, or rather, King of the Phantom Horde, Gwyn ap Nudd; see also 26.40. They have stripped away the good times. The lines would then translate as: Many have gone because of the Horde,/ Dafydd, beneath a cross: their customs once were good. To present even a pale shadow of the richness of the original these lines need the end-rhyme.

1 10 18 23

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145

LOVING IN WINTER
1

Woe to him (its empty pleading!) who loves At any time but summer (this demand is dire!) After that one night I had With a fair maid (my memory of love!) In a black, bleak winter (I admit [my] anger) after Christmas, When there was snow (the portents cold) And ice, and easy icicles. In good spirits [and] not expecting judgement, From the tavern I came drunk To try (great my consternation) To see the fair-haired loving maid Through the wood-vale (love does not surprise me) On one side of a stone wall from the slender girl. Things went badly for me: wave-drips A cheese-vat from the steady[-dripping] eaves! And when I came (I sensed a pay-off, [But] there was danger) just by the parapet, Beneath the cold roof top, thick in the icy moonlight Was an icicle, very wet indeed! Easily into my mouth it drips, This cold might of ice-barked whistles, A bright rake [with] icy nails, Thriving harrow-teeth of ice; Paris candles (wrathful stuff) Of Jaloux, a grove of sprouting shoots; Cold tears [and] daggers of ice, Memorable of black, unbroken ice! The nape of my neck (a savage tone) Felt the ache of those blue axles. I made a sign by striking softly On a window with my hand. Sooner did the husband (it was bedtime, He was furious) hear [me] than his lady. He nudged the maid (a slender moon) With his chilly elbow;

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LOVING IN WINTER

285

He thought there were ([and] by collusion) Canny people seeking money. This idiot wood-stump, he got up From his own lair plague of a stink! The man, incensed, ungracious was a coward; The churl [then] shouted after me. He brought out about my head (a terrifying journey) A gang of all the wicked in the town. He put a Mary (chaste tryst) Candle On the furrows brow [right] in my footprints, This one shouted (with cries Im well acquainted!) Here are his tracks, and hes a sharp one. Then I withdrew (most brave oppression!) Along the ice and the black ridge, Forthwith, to seek the sweetest birch-grove And my shelter in the summer. Id thought thered be (praise for a blessing) A leafy vale with lovely roof, And gentle birds that loved me, And a maid Id seen in May. There was no place (such disenchantment!) For any trysting; nothing but a grove of wood; Nor any sign of love or caring, Nor the girl I had seen, nor the leaves. The vast, bare winter it had winnowed (A green web!) the leaves away. Because of this I ask for May, And thawing weather so Id not shiver. I am a man who loves not winters ploughing On a long farewell to summer.

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22 ice-barked whistles: the icicles are compared with whistles that were made of lengths of twigs. About an inch of the bark is wetted and worked loose without splitting it, then a notch is made in the wood as in a flute; the bark is then carefully replaced. It is now a whistle. 23 icy nails: the Welsh ewinrhew can also mean frostbite, and so the translation, a bright rake with frostbite is possible. 25 Paris candles: large wax candles.

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26 Jaloux: in Welsh Eiddig, the stock character of the jealous husband. grove: I have followed Thomas Parrys suggestion and chosen the Welsh prys in preference to pyrs. 37 I have translated as if the punctuation of the Welsh text were, Tybio bod, trwy amod, rhai/ Manwl... 45 Mary Candle: Our Ladys Candle, a light that was supposed to be seen by a person shortly before his death. 47 with cries Im well acquainted: lit., I know a hundred cries. 50 The Welsh crimp in this line does mean edge or ridge, but the supposedly later meaning of the word, brittle or crisp, would be extremely suitable for describing frosted earth. 62 A green web: could be A green flood if the word was read as dyli (from dylif flood).

WAITING IN VAIN

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146

WAITING IN VAIN
1

A fine choice: yesterday, A Monday, with a maid I made a tryst. Where I saw her (colour of ebb-tide furys Rough[est] water) on a Sunday, she had promised To come to a bidden trysting Where the happy girl came not! In summer I, in haste, cast many glances (A happy maid the fair ones Proper, unassuming) towards her land (She was above a quiet mind Above the shore), towards the place She was: she would deceive a man. The muses beauty is a virgin: But shame on me, Amen, if I (It was cheaply she denied me) Yield to this ones cheating (no way easy) From the morning (girl of bright [and] amber [hair]) Till forenoon beneath the shimmering bush; From forenoon (poets ransom) Till mid (two time-spans) day; From midday which, its claimed, To afternoon lasts long; From afternoon to say it is quite simple! Till night-time: it is a churlish longing. Its a long time for me to wait for her A lovely, golden lady on the border of the moor. If I were, by the dear Pope, In the grove (a puzzling mood!) As long as the mans been (like a sheep-flock Bleating woe) with the load of sticks (Gentle, fair of face is she), Id see no one, [and] woe is me!
1 choice: lit., winnowing. 2930 the man . . . with a load of sticks is the man in the moon.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

THE BARDIC DISPUTE BETWEEN DAFYDD AP GWILYM AND GRUFFUDD GRYG

147

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1

A strange thing [happened] to poor Dafydd, The son of Gwilym Gam (a blameless man), A very bold lad [and] sorrows bedmate: Spears have wasted him a hundred times! [Strange], too, that that uncouth son Is cultivating song, and he a fainting bondsman! His wail (weak show) is protracted, By Gods Mother, there is, says he, A Welshman [here] in sorry agony: Its strange that hes still living! In all places (cheek of strong[est] passion) Mary hears his wounds immense. Spears, numerous as stars, are Wasting all of Dafydds body. Ah woe is me if such sharp spears Are [thrust] in this prime poet! Its not the spear of a flurry amongst many, Not sting of erysipelas, but a weaklings pain; Not a spear in the back well suiting [his] condition; Not a radical disease it is baseness; Not a spear-attack it is not furious, Not a powerful spear, but the spear of frustration. There are weapons firmly in the belly Of the master of songs fabric. Ten years ago this [very] day Dafydd declared in noble song That in him, perchance, there were One hundred weapons, blows of steel, Of arrows (the thought of wraths frustrations!) And that he was [most] thoroughly distressed. There was, in mens opinion, a strong loathing In him because of [all] those spears.

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289

Dafydd, that poet of betrayal, Put forth a mighty lie, [entirely] of nonsense. If Arthur, a wall of mighty pillars, Whod cause swift uproar in a crowd (Its true) if all the spears were Present in one hundred wounds (He [always] waged a savage war) It is [quite] true he would not live one month, Much less (the worthy lads a thin lad) Loves servant: hes [so] weak. Ah me, if any Welshman from Mona, with a spear Had wounded him (wouldnt that [indeed] be pain?) With his golden hand upon its shaft Viciously beneath his damaged breast, Would he be, for one whole morning-hour, Alive (his colours poor) Let alone [alive] to mention (not sweet reason!) [Just] fainting on account of many spears? His protestations are the death of him; His colour has been slain by weapons. Its my belief about this wise [and] witty lad, Though he be boastful, skilled [and] noble, That a wise man from an[y] other land would (Moaning!) betray him straight with one reed-arrow. For him, death by Morfudds weapons (Before a [really] serious test) is dangerous [enough]!

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The cywydd in the title of poems 14754 is one of the twenty-four strict metres of Welsh poetry; see the Introduction, p. xv. The Welsh word gwayw can mean spear and pain. In lines 1322 Gruffudd Gryg uses gwayw most often for spear, but in line 18 the word refers to pain. 2 18 35 43 56 Gwilym Gam: Crooked, or Crookbacked Gwilym, Dafydds father. erysipelas: Saint Anthonys fire, a disease causing inflammation of the skin. Arthur: King Arthur. Mona: Mn, or Anglesey. reed: W. brwyn can also mean sad. The emphasis here is on the weakness of the weapon that could kill Dafydd.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

148

DAFYDDS FIRST CYWYDD


1

Gruffudd Gryg (whose muse is vain and empty, With a shaking, aching head, Whose growth in songs that of a girl one year old) Is false, same growth as any goose-chick. A fake love-cywydd besides its liberal charm Is in dignity not less than any song of praise. In form harmonious, delivered with sincerity, A worthy Ovid-cywydd woe to it! One man hates it, [but] another sings it; [For one] an odious name, another contradicts him. A harp whose pillars not been touched By any hand a cool rain-pillar: A girl will not forbid it if Shes fted with a cywydd. It can be managed if there are three strings [And] a song-declaimer: a comic-poet sang it. In a rowdy beer-tavern, a tinker-man will play it By the belly of a narrow tankard. This one will cast it off, it is disgusting Old dog-shit, that may be despised. An old parchment book, chap-broken work, Would be to the dung-heap thrown Its verse from its baptism has been, With pen and hand, untidy [This] with its shabby leaves and its love-levy For other reason[s] will be sought. Weve judged [all] finding fault with song, Where theres no wrong, detestable and bilious. Why does that poet there Gruffudd, whose behaviours plain to see, Son of a Gwynedd father, Cynwrig Plague me to dismiss me? A man without a Gwynedd mans good nature, With his mouth hes twisted the worlds poetic craft.

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DAFYDDS FIRST CYWYDD

291

There is no work, where meads abundant, For the Gwynedd singers songs But by parting (poor slander; He is a hefty armful) the way in front of him. No poet here will sing to pleasant weather A cywydd with his fingernails, But Gruffudd (a sad shock) will sing (Face puffing) a cywydd [also] with him. All would build a splendid building If trees were found and healthy men; Its easier to discover, where wood is poor [And] journey long, a joiner than materials. If he should desire a song, [with] golden, timid hammer-blow, Let him go into the woods to hew [some] subject matter. That praise-poet name well-known Is not so crafty (well-nicknamed) Who must have a needless thread For the stuff of his false cywydd. With hand on handrail (fine, well-finished), That old stag will run [so] slowly. Let a poet sing to the like of any lovely image A cywydd of his own old wood. I give I aim [to give it] back A warning to [that] most foolish Gruffudd, All fairs darling (the mighty banish him), Stammering coward of bragging, [and] echo-stone of poets: Let that young stuttering man pay as payment For [his] poetry part of his work to me.

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There are several references to poetic art (cerdd dafod) and music (cerdd dant) in this poem as in lines 7, 910, 16. The poet is represented in the old image of a carpenter of song (saer gwawd), as in lines 456, and the material of song as wood. Another old image of the poet as one who weaves poetry also occurs in line 51. Lines 1120 suggest that love cywyddau were sung in taverns. Line 59 calls Gruffudd Gryg a darling of fairs: the professional poets regarded poets who performed at fairs with contempt. 8 9 10 12 Ovid-cywydd: a love song; for Ovid, see 6.16. sings: lit., sang. contradicts him: lit., sang against him. a cool rain-pillar: difficult. It may be that the untouched pillar of the harp (and

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

26 31 40 42 46 48

60

cool, because of this) is compared to a beam of light that appears between clouds. In Welsh it is called a rain-pillar, and is regarded as a sign of rain. For other reason[s]: lit., without the same basis. Cynwrig: a reference to Gruffudds father. with his fingernails: lit., with his ten fingernails. a cywydd [also] with him: or, a cywydd to it that is, to fine weather. journey long: lit., deep journey. subject matter: lit., memory or lore, W. cof. There were three lores of the Isle of Britain with which poets were expected to acquaint themselves, namely, the history, language and genealogy of Wales. The lenited form of Cryg in Gruffudds name (Gryg) means hoarse in modern Welsh, but in Middle Welsh it also meant stammering.

GRUFFUDDS SECOND CYWYDD

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149

GRUFFUDDS SECOND CYWYDD


1

Hes a wild one, I dont know if its good for me To see Dafydd son of Gwilym, with his hand (Deceiving, shocking) profit in a faulty way: Lovely Dafydd is like Gwenwlydd! Fine to my face, a ready shoulder, And bad in my absence and bold. To men of the South he said Dafydd in his lying cywydd That none of my song is my own But what he taught: he was a teacher! He told a lie, by Dewi! He who wants to, let him test me. He swore that I (the best of men) with my tongue Do nothing but distort a song. Its plain [enough] that I, a wordArticulator, would never warp a word of praise. Of simple mind (his claims are many), Dafydds fond of his [own] chatter! Every brazen bird in cosy birches Likes the beauty of his [own] voice. A cold misfortune, through word-weaving, Upon that man of the two of us (And wasting on his tongue Wherever he may be) who would change a song. Though my tongue, with wild vigour [And] in growing anger, stutters (Theres no attainment but through passion), By Mary, no word of the song does stutter. A hobby-horse in any gathering, Was fine, his aspect faultless: Come nearer two wooden legs In stilted pitching, its unpleasant! Indeed no trickery with a weak [And] wooden thing was ever worse. The second is the organ in Bangor: Some play it so the choir roars.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

The year (seeking [its] unpleasant sound Cold, costly enterprise) that it came to town, All people would give offerings From their coffers for such sound the lead gave forth. Upset [and] twittering his fervent wrath, The third is Dafydd, thick-of-beard. He was a favourite, so they say, In Gwynedd, new was his cywydd once: Now his cywydd is more shrivelled, His work in woods is in the shade. Why is it, with [his] faulty Welsh, That fair Ardudfyls son wont see Who he is (a wrathful cry, twice-wounded), And who I am? I am a favourite. If Dafydd thought that it would be More fair to have unhidden, open war, (The roar of some is countrys panic!) He was a scoundrel not to warn me, Lest I be taken in the bonds of wrath By stealth, as [many] hundred[s] have. He sought me out he spurned well-being, That song-briber without warning. No one would give, if Id not give, A wooden star for [all] his sulking.

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4 Gwenwlydd: Ganelon, who betrayed Roland at Roncesvalles. Gruffudd accuses Dafydd of betraying him by being pleasant to his face and unpleasant behind his back. 11 Dewi: Saint David, patron saint of Wales. 33 Indeed no trickery: lit., Indeed no piece of magic. 34 was ever worse: lit., was now worse. 35 The reference is to the organ at Bangor Cathedral which was, when it arrived there, a great wonder. 36 This line could be translated as: Some will play it in spite of the choirs roaring. 48 Ardudfyl: Dafydds mother. 60 The reference to a wooden star (something without any worth) probably derives from a proverb, Ni rown erddo seren bren (I would not give a wooden star for it).

DAFYDDS SECOND CYWYDD

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150

DAFYDDS SECOND CYWYDD


1

The parish (his craft subdues him) scribe Shrewd are his daggers, that ever-stuttering Gruffudd. An example ([that] dark man) for me! He sings well hes innocent of memory! If he wished it, he would have Pleasant discourse and kind word[s], And if not (an empty fetter), I shall do what pleases me. God knows not that I (bright [and] strong of voice), Never did deny any word Id said, [And] that there was no need (sworn to a destiny of peace) Of a model of his song; hes [just] a simple man. Heres the proof, where the butt is, [So] long prohibited in his own song! Before, in our presence (this is true) The long-backed Tudur son of Cyfnerth sang To me, both [to] the wooden horse (a stag with shining teeth) And to the organ (the harmony of saints) A song some while before the time of clamour [And before] he, the wilful cub, had sung. Why would he go (unblemished custom, Of bright strength) to pay the worth of poetry (A bold, brave lad) to stay awhile With Tudur, a most worthy man? Let a young man be recognized (Brave modesty) as the mould of praise, And not put his mind (no secret favour) On satire a sign of whats to be avoided. Its foolish for a fine [and] lively lad To send such hateful gifts (Claims that will be questioned) from Mn To me down to Pryderis land The name of my land is Bro Gadell Renowned are its men: this is better! A blow from his tongue will grow (A warp of hemp) if he with mes offended. Lets come together ([how] good the world was [once]) Hand to hand, between our two courageous hosts.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Lets test ourselves to see if we Are master poets with two fine tongues, song-slinging, And two fierce songs, of splendid sound, And two most mighty bodies, With strong thrusting on fine, splendid feet: And he who from the war may go, [then] let him. Let him leave me alone, and postpone wrath: A noose for me if I leave off! A blow from a long songs outlawry Will not pass by its father cheaply. If hell not sulk (a strong appeal) [And] be without contention, thats well with me; If he sulks [still], where [my] Gascon steed will drive him, If I care, leave Gwyn ap Nudd to take me!

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1 his craft subdues him: the translation could be his craft subdues it [= the parish]. The trychiad in this line is mine. 2 Shrewd are his daggers: that is, in attacking Dafydd. The words could also be translated, but not as appropriately, as: shrewd are his tears. 13 butt: the target of satire. 16 Tudur son of Cyfnerth: a poet of whom nothing is known. The reference here shows that he sang to Dafydd and compared him with a wooden horse and an organ. 17 shining teeth: lit., lively teeth. 31 Mn: Anglesey. 32 down to Pryderis land: lit., as far as the land of Pryderi. Pryderi: Lord of Dyfed in the First and Third Branches of the Mabinogi. 33 Bro Gadell: the land/region of Cadell. Cadell was a leader associated with Dyfed in south-west Wales. 47 a long songs outlawry: a reference to the stealing of poems. Line 48 completes the picture the father of the song (the poet) will not let the stealing go cheaply, that is, without reparation. 52 Gwyn ap Nudd: the King of the Faery Folk, see 26.40.

GRUFFUDDS THIRD CYWYDD

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151

GRUFFUDDS THIRD CYWYDD


1

Dafydd, is it not regrettable That what wrath there was between us (Slander given, vigorous censure), By glorious God, did flourish? You believed him, clear[ly] a futile witness: Its a belief that jongleurs hear! I sigh twice over in my mind If Im concerned to assuage wrath! Up there you think youre high and mighty, Mightier-mightier did you mock me, And scarcely did you wish for me a song Whose strength was bold and mighty. Clearly you wish to fight: I have sufficient grace, am modest as to rank. In summer, in my passion may I not wait And get my girl if [ever] I retreat For any poet (you awful fool) Any foot or inch at all. Your talk of satisfactions great; Brave, so you say, were you. Dafydd, either choose to tell me What you want, or stop: Whether its a contest (you wide-scowling man) For rank, or open conflict, Or a talented contention Over fire, you arrogant, dark man. If you sulked, if you are angry, If your tricks are many, your falsehoods [very] plain; Place your displeasure here, You foolish [and] dark man, wandering about the world. Theres payment, I will warrant, on the breadth Of your torn and tattered hood, [And] tenfold success before a crowd For competing with you in your language. It is not known I may not win With body or with song: I am not lazy!

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Lets come together we are willing men With two swords superbly sharp. With foremost names in learning, let us two Test whos the man in battle, whos the best. Dafydd, if you dare come With a thin sword (if you want praise) And two tongues (a test of ready song) And in our hands two blades of steel, God will judge between two passions; Come to the fray, you auger of song. To the devil with it, [and] for eternity, That blemished heart that turns away. Ill judge you, Dafydd, most unlucky, For making Dyddgu sad that day. Im not unlucky may I despise retreating: Gweirful wont be sad for my transgressing! Woe to Dyddgu, a wise [and] proper maiden: Gweirfuls blessed, she wont see any failing. I am a glorious lion, youre a calf; I am an eagle chick, [and] you a hen chick; And I am bold and dire, With a noble strength in war. And I have in my mouth a song They call me stammerer and strong. And, great new joy, I do not care What I may do, ever after. If I strike, with no withholding, A mans teeth with my sword-edge, Its small favour he will get from me For [any amount of ] wishing. Its hard for a poet by himself To fight a mighty, angry man. Learn some sense with songs that you declaim; Take care: Im no Rhys Meigen!

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5 him: someone who had carried false reports to Dafydd. 6 jongleurs: refers to the Welsh clr, here despised poets who did not belong to the bardic guild.

GRUFFUDDS THIRD CYWYDD

299

31 The payment here would be a legal fine. 434 These two lines were moved here by Thomas Parry from the previous cywydd (poem 150). I take the word braw (fear, shock) to be a lenited form of praw (< prawf = test, contest). 52 Gweirful: the acknowledged love of Gruffudd Gryg. Here it is said that she will not be sad because there is no possibiity of Gruffudds not going to battle. 59 I have in my mouth a song: could be I have the main song. 70 Rhys Meigen: a poet whom Dafydd satirized, see poem 21.

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152 DAFYDDS THIRD CYWYDD Gruffudd Gryg, you scorn-monger, A grouse of coarse, disgraceful song, Shame on your beard in Arfon, And on your lip [full] shame in Mn. I am wise: God has been good to you, Whilst weaving throat[s], to help you! You marvellously flee jongleurs, You fat [and] useless louse-food. You are a sort of too persistent poets-foe; Control your reckless arrogance. Ready of resolve, of splendid insolence, Bridle [and] end your deception. Ask for help, youve been perverse; Black bastard, stop your boasting. Deny the coupling (you spiders web Alas that you cant do this boldly) Together the two chicks ([its all] extremely doubtful) Of an eagle and a hen, you very foolish man: A very wrong assertion [made] with false presumption! Your song is crude, you bent, black man. In lively court your bearings shameless, You useless man, youre called The thorn of song, pathetic-looking man, Or the gorse of Gwynedds language. To keep up, if one should jest With you on sea-surge and on land (Oppressive journey) you would not Do more than slander there. Beneath a thickets lively wood all will be bold In absence of rude-faced fear! Where I may hear (not bowed with a bright joy) A foul word of your song, most stammering man, Ill pay you, Gruffudd, [and] with least restraint, Three retorts to you in song. There will be held no judgement on me (If I fault this, in summer may I not be here):
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301

Nor fear of you (you did not encourage greeting[s]) Nor love of you, till you deserve it. Ill go to Gwynedd (for me, many feastings) In spite of you, you black [and] helpless man; Hard though your view of me may be, Ill have gold and gems in Anglesey. And you, from the place where youre not trusted, Should you come to southern land[s], Youll be (companion of hard judgement) A badger in the bag [with] powerless arm[s]. I am as good as you (seek your bright habit!) In your own land in your [own] lifetime; Better than you (error does not suit you!) My claims persistent in my own land. Gruffudd, it will be sore travail for you, [And] violent terror, if this playing becomes sour. I know full well, good [and] gentle kin of Menw, Thalleging that your name is not the same As Rhys-arse-bellowed-Meigen, A lard-snare and no bright-wit. You had no praise the way you were; You take care (your boastings vain) You (well-used to snags) are not Rhys the dead and bent Killed with a song, shaped like a neck of wax. To you therell be (its good I came) An insult: I was the carpenter of shame.

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3 Shame on your beard: a well-known insult. Arfon: part of Gwynedd. 4 Mn: Anglesey. 7 jongleurs: refers to the Welsh clr, here despised poets who did not belong to the bardic guild. 15 Deny the coupling: that is, the coupling together of the two chicks (ll.1718), see poem 151.56. 46 A badger in the bag: a hard game of thumping a badger or a person in a bag, referred to in the First Branch of the Mabinogi. 53 Menw: son of Teirgwaedd (Three Shouts). In the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, he is a wizard. 55 Rhys Meigen: a poet Dafydd satirized; see poems 21 and 151.70.

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153

GRUFFUDDS FOURTH CYWYDD


1

Gweirful, lady of most wise resolve, Woe is me that I (refined companion) Must for an interval postpone Your song: you are [the very] dawn! Often to you from my tongue came words of praise, By Mary, and [words about] how much I loved you! [All] this, it hit a corner there is a wicked angel Hindering a song, [or] a hidden slackness. Weak Dafydd son of Gwilym will not, From lack of love for me, allow A satire to anyone essential, Nor [any] composition, more than the flowing sea. Gweirful (hue of the light of lovely night) For your true poets sake, dont sulk. Whilst I may satirize full-time, Fare thee well, no word from me. Tudur Goch, you scabby, angry jongleur, Son of Iorwerth, belly of a tallow wick, I protest that, on account of conflict You shit-cur I cant sing to you. A blemish on your severe, sour song: Youre wicked; farewell, Tudur. For what he said I must avenge Myself on Dafydd, a song-weaver. A nightingale in a meadow makes harmony: He makes light of the great injury. A beauty to nobody, hes not straight By the Popes hand [and not] his mothers son. Poet I may be, but I am not of one father Or one mother as that lampooner. He devotes himself to contend with me For a degree, in Mn, [for poetry]. In Aberffraw in Mn I have Seven companions for each one (I have many proven patrons) That Dafydd has, and more.

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GRUFFUDDS FOURTH CYWYDD

303

A jongleur such as Dafydd has great need Of art it is a poets jealousy! He challenged [me] to combat before admitting, Beforehand, his tongues disdain. He well thought that he would have (wise hold) A corner-staff upon a weak and witless man. Ill not fear that Southern poet, Ill not be silent, though he might. Ill put my song against my foe (For I have never been too shallow) And my pleasant verse beneath the glass-green birches, And my sense and sturdy confidence. As to nobility, that is what I wish for: As to appeasement: a womans friskiness In a far-off leaf-house, [just] ask Ardudfyl who sees [things] more clearly! She knows how to pass by perjury: I am her man from Anglesey. If he was my son (well-recalled by many) He is not from me descended. How badly does he that suppliant, That poet Dafydd show his father [some] respect!

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1 Gweirful: Gruffudds girlfriend. 4 dawn: was used so often as a metaphor for a woman that it came to signify lady, but here the extended meaning does not apply. 7 [All] this, it hit a corner: all the poets praise of Gweirful has been obstructed. 11 That is, a satire to someone who deserves to be satirized. 1718 Tudur Goch son of Iorwerth: some ill-regarded poet about whom nothing is known. jongleur: refers to one of the Welsh clr, here despised poets who did not belong to the bardic guild. 27 hes not straight: in Welsh the word used for straight is digam (very crooked). Dafydds father was Gwilym Gam (Gwilym the Crookback). There is probably a reference to him in this digam. 312 These lines refer to bardic contention, or competition, for degrees in poetry. 32 Mn: Anglesey. 33 Aberffraw: the ancient court of the princes of Gwynedd. 42 corner-staff: is obscure, but it may refer to the staff with which declaimers of poetry used to strike the rhythm of a poem as an alternative to harp accompaniment. There are references to a person who is satirized being placed in a corner or a niche. Another translation of the Welsh could be the corner of a rod.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

52 Ardudfyl: Dafydd ap Gwilyms mother. Gruffudd suggests that an appeasement could result from a womans friskiness, that is, Ardudfyls friskiness. He suggests that he is Dafydds father, and that presumably a son ought not to contend with his father. 56 Could possibly be translated as None of him is descended from me, that is, although Gruffudd claims to be Dafydds father, none of the fathers talent has passed to the son. 578 Gruffudd says that his son, Dafydd, does not show his father, Gruffudd himself, proper respect.

DAFYDDS FOURTH CYWYDD

305

154 DAFYDDS FOURTH CYWYDD Shifty-worded Gruffudd, [he]s a crossbow, A bow of craft, though he be hoarse. He shoots (inviting woe) all targets The Pope himself is not protected; But he (hue of the ruddy aloe) hits Scarcely any one of these (he is a knave); Yet he delivers the poem-in-response That honour brings dispraise to none! Without me ([with] passion for one topic The memory of birch-tryst) song would be in misery. It would be less shame to him (Vengeance for my anger) to hold my hand Than (swift to fury) taunt me About how miserable I was: he deserved my wrath. Were there forks ([and] not a total, weak attack) Beneath the brows of [any] mighty man, The tongue of a weak ruler (As is usual with lords) and a poisoned spear Could swell up the indignation In his breast and take his privilege. If the frowning-smiling lad has joined A new guild for stealing poems, I may see him, in the rear still; Passions novice[s] are careless! Let the bare-cheeked Gruffudd, with A lead tip to his tongue, ponder That from him poor fellow not a third Of [any] word comes easily; Hes a weak guide except for Leading a blind man through thistles yonder. He may have (with a dark quiver [And] cold cheek) the fill of any ox-horn. I dont want I dont wish to be betrayed To reconcile with a wrathful, frenzied man. It would be easier in Gwynedd to match A father for Bleddyn with that dark man
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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Than that he, sailing the sea From Anglesey, should be my father. I am a man, unperjured, who has been With an Anglesey [young] lady; Then was begotten (a pestilential carriage) The hoarse son (not in any goodly shape) Gruffudd with two cheeks cold-coloured, The dog-shaped son of Mald y Cwd; A helper to the lepers of Uwch Conwy, I know, I know; why should I not know who? Topped with tow, [and] of dark passion[s], Tudur Goch, give up the song. Famed for buffoonery at Lent, Shames [true] scoundrel, was there ever a worse lip? Of great hatred, excess terror, a goose-arse, Let it be between that man and me.

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2 hoarse: yet again a play of words on Gruffudds name. 1516 A reference to Ysbaddaden the Chief Giant in the story of Culhwch and Olwen; his servants lifted his eyelids with great forks. The meaning appears to be this: if a man be as mighty as Ysbaddaden, a weak tongue and a poisoned spear will deprive him of any advantage. 22 Or, as is less likely in the context of this bardic controversy: A new order for sustaining inspiration. 278 A reference to Gruffudds stammer. 32 the fill of any ox-horn: the reference is unfamiliar. 36 Bleddyn: an inferior poet about whom nothing is known, see also 15.39. 44 Mald y Cwd (Baggy Matilda): a stock satiric character, perhaps the same as Hersdin Hogl (Clumsy Hirstin) who appears in other satiric poems. 45 Uwch Conwy: a region to the west of the river Conwy in north Wales. 47 tow: coarse and broken part of flax or hemp. 48 Tudur Goch: an inferior poet about whom nothing is known, see also 153.17.

A SONG TO THE STARS

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155

A SONG TO THE STARS*


1

By God, my girl, I have to [go] From the groves of May this year By walking a good downward slope And hills (my girl with glorious hair) Before taking, on a hill up high, a drink And seeing our bed beneath the birches. Love is bold (my talk is twitter), A boldness that can change [all] men. I made (my agony abounding!) For one third a night a very sorry journey, Intent on getting (generous [and] like the sun) A maidens kiss with her consent Id seek it! I went across a public road: I was blind in the night upon a barren plain. On a long road last night a notably black night A clumsy trek was made for a white [and] slender maid. I (a tall and sturdy lad) traversed In many ways [on] such a shallow long-ridge. I walked [right] through nine thickets, And along bare, ancient forts, And from there to a stronghold Of demons, detestable companions. I set off from the big, green stronghold Into marshes on a great [high] mountain crest. The black headland (not easy, this) [Then] grew dark against me, As if I were (a battle high and full of treason) Inside a sealed-off prison. I crossed myself, cried harshly; It was too late, and was too cold! Turning very, very cold, I learnt A cywydd to a strange companion! There was one with scaly skin, A golden covering, in that vat of stone, And I, for lack of luck, was thother;
* Thomas Parry (ed.), The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse (Oxford, 1962), No. 64.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

Until last night, Id never been (Gramercy!) far-twisting on a thwarted tryst In a most poisnous bog. I vowed to go (gift guaranteed) To Llanddwyn, if I had a safe retrieval. The Son (the treasure of sweet faith) of Virgin Mary Sleeps not when granting grand delivery. He saw thextent of a keen, worthy poets punishment: God was gentle, lit for me Reed candles of twelve zodiacs, A radiant shower against heavy grief. Soon, and proudly, stars came out For us, [and theyre] nights cherries. Their light was humble, it was bright, Sparks of seven saints conflagration. Flaming plums of the cold moon; The ice-moons jolliest berries. Hidden kernels of the moon are they, The seeds of pleasant weather. The glimmer of the moons large nuts, The colour of a sunlit hill upon our Fathers pathways. Sunshines common harbinger, The region of good weather. Like flintsparks of suns shining floor, Like God Almightys halfpennies. Lovely red-gold under hoarfrost, Gems on the cruppers of the heavenly host. The sunshine drives across the skies Nails for shields a deep vexation. Struck adroitly two by two, Higgledy-piggledy in the wide, grey sky. From the peg-holes of heavens augers Skys sharp breeze will not dislodge them. Wide of compass, wind wont wash them, Theyre embers of the spacious heavens. They are the pieces in backgammon, Their functions clear; the sky-boards sturdy. They intrigue me, they are needles Of the head-dress of the enormous firmament. Light, lovely praise like a bright path; Clover on heavens countenance.

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A SONG TO THE STARS

309

They were good for late[-night] stories, Gilt of frost, gold of the heavens. Wax candles of a hundred altars, Of long configuration in the colossal sky. The holy Gods good-looking beads Scattered about without any string. They wisely showed to me a hollow And a hill below in [great] confusion And ways to Mn and my own way; May God forgive all [in] my mind. I came (before Id slept a wink) at daybreak To the faithful maidens court. Of my travel[s], Ill not boast Except for this to the wondrous, generous maid: There will be no more striking Of the sharp axe upon a stone!

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Since the publication of Thomas Parrys edition of the work of Dafydd ap Gwilym there have been many protestations that this poem and poem 156 should have been included in that book. Strong arguments for its inclusion have been presented by Professor D. J. Bowen. See his Sylwadau ar Waith Dafydd ap Gwilym, Lln Cymru, VI (1960), 3645, and his Awduriaeth y Cywyddau ir Eira ar Sr, Lln Cymru, VII (1963), 193205. 22 detestable companions: lit., friends of hatred. 32 cywydd: one of the twenty-four strict metres of Welsh poetry; see the Introduction, p. xv. 334 Lit., One with a scaly skin, / A golden covering had been in that vat of stone. 35 Gramercy: God have mercy. 3940 The poet vows to go to Llanddwyn to give thanks if he succeeds in getting out of his predicament. Llanddwyn is in Anglesey, and Dwynwen, the saint of lovers, is associated with this place. 58 The Welsh word translated here as region is eryr. It can also mean an eagle among other meanings. 66 Higgledy-piggledy: the text has Cad-Gamlan (the Battle of Camlan), one of Arthurs battles. It became a well-known saying for disorder on a grand scale. 71 The text has ffristiol a tholbwrdd, games with pieces on a board, see also 8.41. 76 countenace: lit., faces. 82 Lit., In his muddle without any string. 85 Mn: Anglesey. 912 This is a version of a familiar saying or proverb: Taror fwyall yn y maen (Striking the axe in the stone). It means attempting the impossible.

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156

SNOW*
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I cant sleep, cant leave the house, [And] Im in pain because of this. Theres no world, no ford, no hill, Nor clear patch nor ground today. No more shall I be lured from my house Out to the fine snow by word of maiden. My excuse is this that my coats The same as that of any miller. This deeds a plague; my gown all down That sticks like playing dragon! Is it a lie that since New Year All are wearing gowns of fur? In January, packs leader, God is [busy] making hermits. The black earth God has [now] Whitewashed it in all regions. Theres nowhere under any tree without A dress of white, no grove without a cover. The fur on every branch is of the fine[st] flour, Skys flour [just] like April flowers. On greenwood grove[s] there is a cold, white cover, A load of lime that stifles [all] the trees. A delusion of wheat flour emerged, A shield invested on the level ground. The earth of arable lands become cold grit, On the earths skin there is thick tallow. A very bulky shower of foam, Fleeces bigger than mans fists. Bees from heaven, they penetrate [All] through Gwynedd; they are white. Where does God stir such a plague? Where are seemly so many saints goose-feathers? A lad whose bellys like a chaff-heap, [In] bare, rough shirt can leap the heather. The dusts now turned to drifting Where there was praise, and little pathways.

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* Thomas Parry (ed.), The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse (Oxford, 1962), No. 64.

SNOW

311

Does anyone in January know What host it is thats spitting down? Theyre blessd angels, [and] no less, In heaven engaged in carpentry. See the taking from the bottom Of the flour-loft a plank. A silver ice-dress for an instant, Quicksilver the worlds coldest. A cold cloak (its stays a setback); Hollow, ditch and hills cement. Coat of thick mail, heavy on the belly of the land, A pavement vaster than seas graveyard. Theres a great fall upon my land, Pale wall from sea to sea. Or, the earth from its four corners Was, all of it, with brains spilled out. Where does it stay, this cold white plate? This magic plaster who will stop it? Who will dare put it to shame? Its lead upon a cloak; [and] wheres the rain?

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This is another poem that has found its way back into the canon of Dafydds work see the note to poem 155. 9 down: or, feathers. 10 playing dragon: a game, the occasion in a medieval play when an actor puts on a cloak of feathers to represent the scales of a dragons skin. 13 packs leader: January, the first month of the year, is the leader of the pack of months. 47 heavy: lit., a weight, from the W. pwys. That can also mean nausea and would be appropriate with the belly of the land (daeardor). Daeardor can also be translated as landslide.

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157 TO THE ROOD AT CARMARTHEN* The power (not as in oppressors conflict But as in gentle, miracle-might) Of this renowned, snow-bright, clear-vigoured relic The white forts rood, four-pointed is strong sacrifice. As I am poems steward, Ill make a song of praise To this radiant, fair-lovely, comely rood, Where the clamorous tides forceful path of glorys Bright about the . . . castle wall. It was once full of grace without the means to fight, [Without] the tumult or the turmoil of a brilliant battle, [It was] a clear, shining white-washed fort Where the salt sea fills up the bubbling Tywi . . . * * *
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The rood of blessd Christ the Lords most glorious Passion no lord like him was raised, Holy, Bastion, Emperor of Peace Mighty, splendid relic of the passion of heavens gentle Lord.

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God the Father brought to Caer a goodly image, worthy of song, A key will it be to miracle[s], Ill bear (a part of sweetest, purest verse) Two fluent songs to my immaculate relic. 68 No false words: this made the blind, who cannot see, Like the far-seeing full-fledged hawk; It is a sign that none shall be (faith in the mighty Lord) Strong without the strength of the great Son of Mary. And [it] made (a holy-tempered radiance) a poor, dim cripple, Withered dead (Gods second word) In sight of all (fair, splendid praise), In a procession, a sturdy strider in a fair.

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*Ann Parry Owen, Gwaith Llywelyn Brydydd Hoddnant, Dafydd ap Gwilym, Hillyn ac Eraill (Aberystwyth, 1996), 5191. See also Ann Parry Owen, Englynion Dafydd Llwyd ap Gwilym Gam ir Grog o Gaer, in J. E. Caerwyn Williams (ed.), Ysgrifau Beirniadol XXI (Dinbych, 1996), 1536.

TO THE ROOD AT CARMARTHEN

313

By its wise miracle and virtue deaf men hear Clearly, splendidly, without restraint; And it will bring from being dead a thing To fully active life, through hope in the great Word. Praiseworthy relic of Gods pure Word, most radiant image Whose mighty miracle is evident and wise, All grades of men know that the carvers cut was good, The best journeys for His sake, the Man who makes them . . . * * *

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Merciful God [and] Lord-friend will not too much chide us For streaming blood[s sake] [for] songs improper passion: A worthy oak-tree bravely paid the price for us, Heavens door will give us succour. It came to Caer where the strong surge of the tumult of seas tide-flows intense In the shape it purchased us, A part of sweet[est] glory, it gave to us direction, An image from heaven, the Giver of succour. Protect now my song, dont drown the sign of turmoil, Great righteous rood that purchased me, You have been dyed by dire bloodflow, I beseech the Lord God for your succour.

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For the purchase of the Lords dripping blood, the radiant Christ disposed For the bright rood that stops our woe (Eminent in metre, a powerful word) A town like heaven, of cherished succour. 156 Radiant is the living rood within the town of Caer, Belovd image of a kingdom, Where men of Deifr see pale, prosperous crowd Fresh water flowing and a shining [great] blue tide.

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DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

For the gold image, for the worth of a gem, great profit Came to house and place Where water boils in deep[est] channel[s]: It shines magnificently the floor of the flowing sea whose surface is [all] blue . . . * * *

164

I make, by means of ancestry, a pledge to my mighty Lord [and] to the rood 177 With the articulate [pledge] of its servant, Fair, fearless song[s], profound and rich, Numerous as pebbles upon a green bank. 180

The rood or cross was situated in Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen), referred to as Caer in this poem. The text is imperfect, and only the englynion that are complete or almost complete have been translated. 12 84 149 153 159 Tywi: the river on which Carmarthen stands. them: miracles. turmoil: apparently refers to the turmoil of poetic composition. dripping blood: lit., drop of blood. men of Deifr: Deifr is the W. for Deira, usually a traditional name for the enemy.

TO A MILL

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158

TO A MILL*
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Boar out of the rock in a white arc [rushing], Should it strike roughly the ground will be quaking, A brave little boy in a round crib, A young lad gulping his share of the corn. Wheel-shaped it is, well-set in water, dish-shaped Where water torrents fall, Joyful produce, happy clamour, A handmaiden winding the water. Bitter-screaming, reaching with horns flailing, Most fiercely winding She makes a whap-beat with her whip-horns, A whirligig, a turbulent whorl. Each part sees the other grinding, [grain] From hopper into sack[s] comes pouring; From side to side a white wheel spinning, [With] its weight on the horns of the mill-rind.

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*R. Geraint Gruffydd, Englynion to a mill attributed to Dafydd ap Gwilym, Zeitschrift fr Celtische Philologie, Band 4950 (1997), 27381.

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159

A KISS (B)*
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A kiss from one of suns bright sparkle stops me From sadly growing old for her a gem among the many! Pleasant was it, worthy of praise, unloosing The lock of the lovely two rims of the maidens lips. When I was worthy of it (the well-born will attempt it), A goodly, cherished kiss, I was happy: long may that muzzle last On a noble maidens life! It was a favour gave it me, a frisky maiden gave it The fine excess, without advisement, Of a shining, worthy meeting, The joyful binding of two breaths. I have the gift of rightly schooled poetic words, articulate and splendid Better than any red-gold spur; Im one who touches the lively [and] wine-worthy lips Of that mouth-lovely, bright and radiant maid.

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*R. Geraint Gruffydd, Englynion y Cusan by Dafydd ap Gwilym, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 23 (Summer 1992), 16.

TO HIS PECKER

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TO HIS PECKER*
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By God, pecker, you are one that must be guarded More carefully than ever now With hand and eye because of (Straight-headed rod) this lawsuit; Twats fish-fin, on account of a complaint Youll have a halter on your snout to stop you So that youre not, a second time, indicted Dont you hear the despair of the minstrels! To me you are a rolling-pin, and one thats most disgusting; Pouch-horn, dont you rise up, dont sway about; A Calend-gift for this worlds ladies, And nut-pole to [maids] lap holes, Contour of a ganders neck In year-old feathers sleeping; A wet-head neck, milk-yielding shaft, Buds top-piece, give up your awkward itching; [You] blunt one bent, accursd pole, Butt-pillar of a girls two halves, Stiff conger eel, hole in its head, Blunt barrier like green-hazel pole. Youre longer than a big mans thigh, Chisel of a hundred nights [and] long-night outlawry; An auger like a pillar of the post, A leather-head called tail-end. A crowbar that stirs passion, Latch on the lid of maids bald arse. Inside your head there is a tube, A whistle for [your] daily humping. In your pate there is an eye Which sees all ugly ladies lovely; Extending gun, [or] a round pestle: On a small puss youre purgatorial! A ridge-beam for the laps of girls, [Your] quick sproutings a bell-clapper; Dull pod, that would dig up a tribe, A jowl-skin, nostril for the spurting of two balls.
*Dafydd Johnston, Medieval Welsh Erotic Poetry (Cardiff, 1991), 2830.

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318

DAFYDD AP GWILYM: HIS POEMS

You are a trousersful of lechery, A leather neck, shape of a gooses neckbone; By nature youre all false, a lust-pod, A door-bolt that brings claims and trouble. Consider, theres a writ and an indictment! Put down your head, you rod for planting children. Youre so hard to regulate A cold thrust, [and] its woe to you indeed! For your lord, admonishment is frequent; The bad through your head is [all too] apparent.

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Professor Dafydd Johnston has argued that this is one of Dafydd ap Gwilyms poems. It is probably the earliest extant poem of what has been, until recently, a whole genre of rather crude erotic verse nicely hidden in dusty manuscripts. 11 Calend-gift: a gift given on the first day of the year.