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Texts

Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd ei chwaer‘The conversation between Myrddin and his sister Gwenddydd.’

  • Medieval Welsh poetry
Long poem that takes the form of a dialogue or colloquy between Myrddin and his sister Gwenddydd. In response to his sister's questions, Myrddin reveals many details concerning the future of Britain; includes references to Myrddin as a wild man of the woods; Gwenddolau; battle of Arfderydd (570s, Cumbria); includes a regnal list, especially of the Maelgyning kings of Gwynedd, from Rhydderch Hael to Hywel Dda ap Cadell (d. 950) and beyond, at which point the poem becomes obscure. It has been suggested that it was probably originally composed when Hywel Dda reigned supreme over the kingdoms of the Merfynion.

Classification

Medieval Welsh poetry

Sources

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Jenkins, Manon Bonner, “Aspects of the Welsh prophetic verse tradition in the Middle Ages: incorporating textual studies of poetry from ‘Llyfr Coch Hergest’ (Oxford, Jesus College, MS cxi) and ‘Y Cwta Cyfarwydd’ (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS Peniarth 50)”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis: University of Cambridge, 1990. 
abstract:
Much of the corpus of medieval Welsh prophetic poetry, comprising as it does diverse and complicated strands of political, mystical, religious, and legendary material, has not previously been systematically studied, or even printed. The introductory chapter of this thesis makes a preliminary exploration of the historical context of the prophecies, the nature of their propagators and audiences, and also the influences prevalent on the authors, be these intellectual and literary influences, or sub-conscious and psychological influences which fall into the realm of anthropology. There follow editions of the Welsh prophetic poetry found in Oxford, Jesus College, MS cxi, and Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS Peniarth 50. These two manuscripts, dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries respectively, provide a significant cross-section of the medieval Welsh prophetic poetry extant. Detailed textual analyses of the poems with text, translation, and notes, examine language and metre, investigate references to persons and places, and seek to identify conventional prophetic elements. From a historical point of view, the prophetic texts are compared with contemporary chronicles, as reflections of contemporary historical thinking. Some attention is also paid to the material's wider manuscript context, and its transmission. This sheds light on the prevailing cultural and intellectual climate as well as providing invaluable help in the interpretation of individual prophecies.
(source: BL Ethos)
[ed.] Evans, J. Gwenogvryn, The poetry in the Red Book of Hergest, Llanbedrog, 1911.
Internet Archive: <link>
1–4 (cols 577–583)

Secondary sources (select)

Charles-Edwards, T. M., “10. Kingship”, in: Charles-Edwards, T. M., Wales and the Britons, 350–1064, History of Wales, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 314–339.
337–339
Padel, O. J., “Geoffrey of Monmouth and the development of the Merlin legend”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 51 (Summer, 2006): 37–65.
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Contributors
Dennis Groenewegen
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