Welsh poetry

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Welsh poetry may refer to poetry in the Welsh language, Anglo-Welsh poetry, or other poetry written in Wales or by Welsh poets.


Wales has one of the earliest literary traditions in Northern Europe, stretching back to the days of Aneirin (fl. 550) and Taliesin (second half of the 6th century), and the haunting Stafell Cynddylan, which is the oldest recorded literary work by a woman in northern Europe.

Welsh poetry is connected directly to the bardic tradition, and broken into four periods[1]. The first period, occurring before 1100, is known as the period of Y Cynfeirdd ("The earliest poets") or Yr Hengerdd ("The old poetry"). It roughly dates from the birth of the Welsh language from Brythonic to the arrival of the Normans in Wales towards the 1100 CE. The second period, the period of the Poets of the Princes (Beirdd y Tywysogion, also called Y Gogynfeirdd), lasted from about 1100 CE until 1350 CE. The final classical period of Welsh poetry, referred to as the period of the Poets of the Nobility (Beirdd yr Uchelwyr) or simply Cywyddwyr, lasted from 1350 CE to 1600 CE. 1600 CE is generally used to mark the beginning of modern Welsh poetry.

The earliest poem in English by a Welsh poet dates from about 1470. More recently Anglo-Welsh poetry has become an important aspect of Welsh literary culture, as well as being influential on English literature.

Welsh poets often write under bardic names to conceal their identity in Eisteddfod competitions.


Since the later Middle Ages, the traditional Welsh poetic metres in strict verse consist of twenty four different metrical forms written in cynghanedd.

An awdl is a form of long poem, similar to the ode. The most popular metrical forms are the Cywydd, of 14th-century origin, and the several versions of the Englyn, a concise and allusive verse form similar to the Greek epigram and the Japanese haiku and as old as Welsh literature itself.

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External links[edit]

  1. ^ Loesch, K. T. (1983). Welsh bardic poetry and performance in the middle ages. In D. W. Thompson (Ed.), Performance of Literature in Historical Perspectives (177–190). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.