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Description

Old Welsh developed into Middle Welsh around 1100. Spoken Welsh included a variety of dialects, such as Gwyndodeg (the speech of Gwynedd) and Gwenhwyseg (the speech of Gwent). The written language was used for religious literature, legal texts, works on medicine, heraldry and farming as well as prose sagas and romances. Medieval Wales remained overwhelmingly Welsh speaking.

We have here an example of Middle Welsh taken from one of three cywyddau by the professional bard Iolo Goch (about 1320-98) praising Owain Glyn Dŵr. This one praises his court at Sycharth.

The cywydd (plural cywyddau) is one of the most important metrical forms of Welsh poetry, consisting of a series of seven-syllable lines in rhyming couplets, using a form of harmony known as cynghanedd. It was the favourite metre of the poets of the nobility.

Iolo's patrons included high-ranking churchmen as well as Anglo-Welsh and Welsh noble families.

 

Transcription of the audio passage: Llys Owain Glyn Dŵr

Naw neuadd gyfladd gyflun, A naw gwardrob ar bob un, Siopau glân glwys cynnwys cain, Siop lawndeg fal Siêp Lundain; Croes eglwys gylchlwys galchliw, Capelau â gwydrau gwiw; Popty llawn poptu i'r llys, Perllan, gwinllan ger gwenllys; Melin deg ar ddifreg ddŵr, A'i glomendy gloyw maendwr, Pysgodlyn, cudduglyn cau, A fo rhaid i fwrw rhwydau; Amlaf lle, nid er ymliw, Penhwyaid a gwyniaid gwiw, A'i dir bwrdd a'i adar byw, Peunod, crehyrod hoywryw; Dolydd glân gwyran a gwair, Ydau mewn caeau cywair, Parc cwning ein pôr cenedl, Erydr a meirch hydr, mawr chwedl; Gerllaw'r llys, gorlliwio'r llall, Y pawr ceirw mewn parc arall;

 

English translation:

... nine symmetrical identical halls, and nine wardrobes by each one, bright fair shops with fine contents, a lovely full shop like London's Cheapside; a cross-shaped church with a fair chalk-coloured exterior, chapels with splendid glass windows; a full bakehouse on every side of the court, an orchard, a vineyard by a white court; a lovely mill on flowing water, and his dovecot with bright stone tower; a fishpond, hollow enclosure, what is needed to cast nets; place most abounding, not for dispute, in pike and fine sewin, and his bord-land and his live birds, peacocks, splendid herons, bright meadows of grass and hay, corn in well-kept fields, the rabbit park of our patriarch, ploughs and sturdy horses, great words, by the court, outshining the other, stags graze in another park...

English translation by Dafydd Johnston (D. Johnston 1993, Iolo Goch: Poems, Gomer.

Middle Welsh reading by Professor Peter Wynn Thomas, Cardiff University.

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