List of Welsh-language poets (6th century to c. 1600)

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Welsh language poetry has, until quite recently, been regulated by specific verse forms (Canu Caeth), with the encouragement of the eisteddfod movement. The following list is as inclusive as possible for the years prior to 1600. It includes as many minor poets as possible to illustrate the range and content of Welsh poetry throughout the ages. However much early poetry has been lost, and much medieval verse is either anonymous or, usually in the case of mythological poems and prophetic verse, attributed to the 6th-century poet Taliesin or the mythical figure of Myrddin. Early religious and gnomic verse is also usually anonymous. Where possible examples of each poet's surviving work is presented at Welsh Poetry at Wikisource

Each period of the poets listed below is accompanied by a graphical timeline to illustrate the main events and individuals that influenced the poets and their work. These timelines also depict the development of the Welsh language. This page is limited[clarification needed] to the practitioners[clarification needed] of the language and further details of its development may be found at Welsh language.

Pre 6th century[edit]

No works by Welsh poets prior to the 6th century have survived. Tradition records:

  • Maelgwyn of Llandaff (c. 450) - said, according to one source, to have written of Joseph of Arimathea's burial at Glastonbury.[1] However in the mid-5th century he would have spoken Brythonic, not Welsh, and as a monk would probably have written in Latin. His existence is doubtful.

6th century to 1100[edit]

Extant[edit]

The bulk of surviving verse from the period known as "Canu'r Bwlch" is anonymous.(see Wikisource)

The works of the following poets, belonging to the Hengerdd or Cynfeirdd period, are extant and accepted as probably genuine:

The following works are probably apocryphal:

The englyn-cycles which were previously attributed to Llywarch Hen and Heledd are now seen as works of later (9th-10th century) poets.

  • Juvencus Manuscript/ Cambridge Juvencus (late 9th century) contains two Welsh englyn-poems, one of nine and one of three englynion.[2] For the text and Sir Ifor William's translation see: The Juvencus Englynion
  • St Elaeth (11th century) - a poet and a monk whose surviving verse is recorded in the Black Book Of Carmarthen.

Non-extant or doubtful[edit]

Four others are named by Nennius as poets of renown alongside Taliesin and Aneirin:

  • Arofan (7th century)
  • Cuhelyn Fardd (?9th century) - referred to in several poems but otherwise unknown. None of his work survives. The earliest reference to him is in a text [1] found in the Black Book Of Carmarthen.
  • Bleheris (?11th century) - an otherwise unknown poet of doubtful authenticity referred to as "born and bred in Wales" in Gawain and as a source for the story.[3]

Other[edit]

  • Myrddin ab Morfryn - was believed by some to be an historical person who died in AD 570, but is now accepted as a mythical figure (see Merlin).[4]

Timeline[edit]

1100 to 1290[edit]

The following group of court poets used to be called the Gogynfeirdd and are now generally referred to as "Beirdd y Tywysogion", the Poets of the Princes. The list is roughly chronological.

Timeline of major poets[edit]

1290 to c.1500[edit]

The poets of this period are known as Beirdd yr Uchelwyr. The list is fairly chronological but not exhaustive as the work of some minor poets of the late 15th and 16th centuries remains in manuscript and a large corpus of late medieval Darogan, prophetic verse, is anonymous or attributed to early poets. Traditional patronage dwindled in the late 16th century but a handful of bards still received patronage from the gentry into the 17th century. Free verse by individuals composing "freelance" gradually took over from the mid-16th century onwards.

Timeline of major poets[edit]

16th century[edit]

Most of the earlier poets here are very much in the Beirdd yr Uchelwyr tradition. Traditional patronage dwindled in the late 16th century but a handful of bards still received patronage from the gentry into the 17th century. Free verse by individuals composing "freelance" gradually took over from the mid-16th century onwards. The free verse and strict metre poets sit rather uneasily together in this list.

  • Tudur Aled (c. 1465–1525)
  • Lewys Môn (fl. 1485–1527)
  • Gruffudd ap Ieuan ap Llywelyn Fychan (c. 1485–1553) - poet and official at the Caerwys eisteddfod in 1524.
  • Siôn Ceri (fl. early 16th century
  • Ieuan ap rhys ap Llywlyn (fl. beginning of 16th century) - whose surviving work includes a poem composed on an outbreak of smallpox.
  • Matthew Brwmffild (fl. 1520–1560) - whose poems in praise of nobility are recorded in one of the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Lewys Daron (fl. 1520–1539) - who is best known for his elegy on the death of Tudur Aled.
  • Lewys Morgannwg (fl. 1520–1565)
  • Siôn Tudur (1522–1602)
  • Dafydd Trefor (died 1528) - whose work includes cywyddau on religious themes and an elegy on the death of Henry VII.[11]
  • Powys Lewis (fl. c. 1530) - whose poems in praise of nobility are recorded in one of the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Simwnt Fychan (c. 1530–1606)
  • St. Richard Gwyn (c. 1537–1584) - who composed a number of odes in defence of Catholicism, while jailed.[12]
  • Alice ferch Gruffudd ap Ieuan Fychan (fl. 1540–1570) - whose surviving poems include musings on the type of man she desired to marry and on her fathers’ second marriage.[13]
  • Catrin ferch Gruffudd ap Ieuan Fychan (fl. 16th century) - whose surviving poem is on a theme of religion.[13]
  • Morus Dwyfach (fl. 1540–1580)
  • Rhys Cain (c. 1540–1614)
  • Llywelyn Siôn (c. 1540–1615)
  • Siôn Phylip (1543–1620)
  • Edmwnd Prys (c. 1543–1623)
  • Robin Clidro (1545–1580)
  • Dafydd Alaw (fl. 1550) - whose surviving work includes an elegy to Lewys Môn and poems in praise of the nobility of Anglesey.[14]
  • Wiliam Midleton (c. 1550 – c. 1596)
  • Dafydd Benwyn (1550–1600) - who composed poems to the nobility of Glamorgan.
  • Morris Kyffin (c. 1555–1598)
  • Catrin ferch Gruffudd ap Hywel (fl. c. 1555) - who composed a poem in praise of Jesus Christ.[15]
  • Gwilym Gwyn (fl. c. 1560–1600) - whose surviving work includes a cywydd to St. Elian Geimiad.[16]
  • Dafydd ap Ieuan ab Owen (fl. c. 1560) - who composed poems in praise of the town of Harlech and an invective against the world inspired by the loss of his land.
  • Gruffudd Hiraethog (died 1564)
  • Tomos Prys (c. 1564–1634)
  • Edward Maelor (fl. 1567–1603) - who composed poems to the nobility of north Wales.
  • Rhisiart Gruffudd (fl. c. 1569) - whose surviving work includes a poem seeking reconciliation between Sir Richard Bulkeley of Anglesey with his second wife, Agnes, who had been accused of poisoning her husband.[17]
  • Huw Llwyd (c. 1568 – c. 1630) - a soldier, poet and rumoured wizard whose poems on hunting are recorded in one of the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Edwart ap Raff (fl. 1578–1606) - whose surviving work includes a poem about the Battle of Saint Quentin in 1557.
  • Rhys Prichard (1579–1644)
  • Elis Cynfrig (fl. 1580–1620) - whose poems on themes of religion and love are recorded in some of the Peniarth and British Museum manuscripts.
  • Cadwaladr ap Rhys Trefnant (fl. 1600) - whose surviving poems in praise of noble families of Montgomeryshire are recorded in some of the Peniarth and Mostyn manuscripts.

Timeline of major poets[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury", Theo Brown, Folklore, Vol. 57, No.2, 1946.
  2. ^ Sir Ifor Williams, 'Beginnings of Welsh Poetry', University of Wales Press, Second Revised Edition,1980
  3. ^ Bleheris "J. L. Weston, From Ritual to Romance, Cambridge University Press 1920"
  4. ^ Myrddin "A.O.H. Jarman, 'A oedd Myrddin yn Fardd Hanesyddol?', (Studia Celtica 1976)
  5. ^ J Lloyd-Jones, 'The Court Poets of the Welsh Princes', Proceedings of the British Academy, 1948
  6. ^ Gwaith Tudur Aled, Thomas Gwynn Jones (ed.), (Cardiff, 1926).
  7. ^ Andrew Breeze, 'Two bardic themes: the Virgin and Child, and Ave-Eva', Medium Aevum, Vol. 63, 1994
  8. ^ 'Llanarthney - Llanbedrog', A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1849), pp. 478-93. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47842
  9. ^ Islwyn Jones (ed.), Gwaith Hywel Cilan (Caerdydd, 1963)
  10. ^ Owen Thomas, 'Gwaith Dafydd Epynt', Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, 2002
  11. ^ Rhiannon Ifans, 'Gwaith Syr Dafydd Trefor', Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, 2006
  12. ^ Catholic Online Saints: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4599
  13. ^ a b (Peniarth Manuscript. 287)
  14. ^ (NLW MS. (1553) Llanst. MSS. (123, 125, and 133)
  15. ^ (N.L.W. MSS. 695)
  16. ^ (B.M. Add. MS. 14906)
  17. ^ (Mostyn MS 144)