Ieuan ap Hywel Swrdwal

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Ieuan ap Hywel Swrdwal (?1430 - ?1480) was a Welsh poet, from Norman stock. He composed primarily in Welsh, but was also responsible for the first known poem in the English language written by a Welshman.[1] His father Hywel Swrdwal was also a poet, and there are doubts as to whether a number of extant works should be attributed to the father or to the son. He is reputed to have composed a history of Wales, but this has not survived.

The Hymn to the Virgin was written by Ieuan at Oxford in about 1470 and uses a Welsh poetic form, the awdl, and Welsh orthography; for example:

O mighti ladi, owr leding - tw haf
At hefn owr abeiding:
Yntw ddy ffast eferlasting
I set a braents ws tw bring.

Modern English orthography:

O, mighty Lady, our leading, - to have
At heaven our abiding:
Unto Thy vast everlasting
I set a braents (?) us to bring.

The poem consists of 96 lines in 13 stanzas. It is an address to Christ through the Virgin Mary.

An alternative claim for the first poem in English written by a Welshman is made for John Clanvowe's The Book of Cupid, God of Love or The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, a long love poem based on Chaucer's The Owl and the Nightingale.[1]


  1. ^ a b Stephens, Meic (1998). The New Companion to the Literature of Wales. University of Wales Press. ISBN 0708313833.