Dafydd ap Gwilym

God is not so cruel as old men tell us: nor will God cut off the gentle soul of a man for loving a woman or a girl.

Dafydd ap Gwilym was a mid-14th century Welsh lyric poet whose works usually deal either with nature, with love, or with his own comic misadventures. Studies of his country's literature regularly describe him as the greatest Welsh-language poet.

SourcedEdit

Welsh quotations are taken from Dafydd ap Gwilym (ed. and trans. Rachel Bromwich) A Selection of Poems (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1982] 1985).

  • Nid ydyw Duw mor greulon
    Ag y dywaid hen ddynion.
    Ni chyll Duw enaid gŵr mwyn,
    Er caru gwraig na morwyn.
    Tripheth a gerir drwy'r byd:
    Gwraig a hinon ac iechyd.
    Merch sydd decaf blodeuyn
    Yn y nef ond Duw ei hun.
    • God is not so cruel as old men tell us: nor will God cut off the gentle soul of a man for loving a woman or a girl. Three things are loved by the whole world: women, fine weather, and good health, and girls are the fairest flower in Heaven next to God Himself.
    • "Y Bardd a'r Brawd Llwyd" (The Poet and the Grey Brother), line 37; translation from Dafydd ap Gwilym (trans. Nigel Heseltine) Twenty-Five Poems (Banbury: The Piers Press, 1968) p. 42.


  • Cyn rheitied i mi brydu
    Ag i tithau bregethu,
    A chyn iawned ym glera
    Ag I tithau gardota.
    Pand englynion ac odlau
    Yw'r hymnau a'r segwensiau?
    A chywyddau i Dduw lwyd
    Yw sallwyr Dafydd Broffwyd.
    • I have an equal right to make poems as you have to pray, I have the same right to sing for my bread as you to beg for it. Are not hymns and sequences but other kinds of odes and elegiacs? And are not the psalms of David poems to the good God?
    • "Y Bardd a'r Brawd Llwyd" (The Poet and the Grey Brother), line 53; translation from Dafydd ap Gwilym (trans. Nigel Heseltine) Twenty-Five Poems (Banbury: The Piers Press, 1968) p. 42.


  • Plygain y darllain deirllith,
    Plu yw ei gasul i'n plith.
    Pell y clywir uwch tiroedd
    Ei lef o lwyn a'i loyw floedd.
    Proffwyd rhiw, praff awdur hoed,
    Pencerdd gloyw angerdd glyngoed.
    • Matins, he reads the lesson,
      A chasuble of plumage on.
      His cry from a grove, his brightshout
      Over countrysides rings out,
      Hill prophet, maker of moods,
      Passion's bright bard of glenwoods.
    • "Y Ceiliog Bronfraith" (The Thrush), line 7; translation from Anthony Conran and J. E. Caerwyn Williams (trans.) The Penguin Book of Welsh Verse (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967) p. 145.


  • Ni thybiais, ddewwrdrais ddirdra,
    Na bai deg f'wyneb a da,
    Oni theimlais, waith amlwg,
    Y drych.
    • I never entertained the dreadful thought that my face was anything other than good and fair until, in an act of revelation, I picked up a mirror.
    • "Y Drych" (The Mirror), line 1; translation from Carl Lofmark Bards and Heroes (Felinfach: Llanerch, 1989) p. 96.


  • Lleuad las gron gwmpas graen,
    Llawn o hud, llun ehedfaen;
    Hadlyd liw, hudol o dlws,
    Hudolion a'i hadeilws;
    Breuddwyd o'r modd ebrwydda',
    Bradwr oer a brawd i'r ia.
    Ffalstaf, gwir ddifwynaf gwas,
    Fflam fo'r drych mingam meingas!
    • Blue, round, miserable moon, full of magic, picture that draws like a magnet, pale-coloured, charmed jewel, made by sorcerers; swiftest of dreams, cold traitor, brother to the ice, most evil and unkind of servants, let hell consume the hateful, thin, bent-lipped mirror!
    • "Y Drych" (The Mirror), line 25; translation from Carl Lofmark Bards and Heroes (Felinfach: Llanerch, 1989) p. 96.


  • Oriau hydr yr ehedydd
    A dry fry o'i dŷ bob dydd,
    Borewr byd, berw aur bill,
    Barth â'r wybr, borthor Ebrill.
    • Triumphant hours are the Lark's
      Who circles skywards from his home each day:
      World's early riser, with bubbling golden song,
      Towards the firmament, guardian of April's gate.
    • "Yr Ehedydd" (The Skylark), line 1; translation from Dafydd ap Gwilym (ed. and trans. Rachel Bromwich) A Selection of Poems (Harmondsworth, Penguin, [1982] 1985) p. 74.


  • Plygu rhag llid yr ydwyf,
    Pla ar holl ferched y plwyf!
    Am na chefais, drais drawsoed,
    Onaddun' yr un erioed
    Na morwyn fwyn ofynaig,
    Na merch fach, na gwrach, na gwraig.
    • I am twisted with passion – plague on all the girls of the parish! since I suffered from trysts which went amiss, and could never win a single one of them, neither gentle hopeful maid, nor little lass, nor hag, nor wife.
    • "Merched Llanbadarn" (The Girls of Llanbadarn), line 1; translation from Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (ed. and trans.) A Celtic Miscellany (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1951] 1975) p. 209.


  • Ni bu amser na charwn…
    Yn y dydd ai un ai dwy.
    • There never has been a time when I did not fall in love with one or two in a single day.
    • "Merched Llanbadarn" (The Girls of Llanbadarn), line 13; translation from Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (ed. and trans.) A Celtic Miscellany (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1951] 1975) p. 209.


  • Harddwas teg a'm anrhegai,
    Hylaw ŵr mawr hael yw'r Mai.
    Anfones ym iawn fwnai,
    Glas defyll glân mwyngyll Mai.
    Ffloringod brig ni'm digiai,
    Fflŵr-dy-lis gyfoeth mis Mai.
    • A fine handsome youth rewarded me;
      May is a generous, open-handed prince.
      He sent me true coins:
      Clean green leaves of May's gentle hazels.
      Twigs' florins don’t disappoint me,
      May's fleur-de-lys wealth.
    • "Mis Mai" (May), line 9; translation by Patrick Sims-Williams, from Boris Ford (ed.) Medieval Literature: The European Inheritance (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983) p. 541.


  • Hawddamor, glwysgor glasgoed,
    Fis Mai haf, canys mau hoed.
    Cadarn farchog serchog sâl,
    Cadwynwyrdd feistr coed anial;
    Cyfaill cariad ac adar,
    Cof y serchogion a'u câr;
    Cennad nawugain cynnadl,
    Caredig urddedig ddadl.
    • Welcome, with your lovely greenwood choir, summery month of May for which I long! Like a potent knight, an amorous boon, the green-entangled lord of the wildwood, comrade of love and of the birds, whom lovers remember, and their friend, herald of nine score trysts, fond of exalted colloquies.
    • "Mis Mai a Mis Ionawr" (To May and January), line 1; translation from Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (ed. and trans.) A Celtic Miscellany (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1951] 1975) p. 75.


  • Digrif fu, fun, un ennyd
    Dwyn dan un bedwlwyn ein byd.
    Cydlwynach , difyrrach fu,
    Coed olochwyd, cydlechu,
    Cydfyhwman marian môr,
    Cydaros mewn coed oror,
    Cydblannu bedw, gwaith dedwydd,
    Cydblethu gweddeiddblu gwŷdd.
    Cydadrodd serch â'r ferch fain,
    Cydedrych caeau didrain.
    • It was sweet, my love, a while
      To live our life beneath the grove of birch,
      More sweet was it fondly to embrace
      Together hid in our woodland retreat,
      Together to be wandering on the ocean's shore,
      Together lingering by the forest's edge,
      Together to plant birches – task of joy –
      Together weave fair plumage of the trees,
      Together talk of love with my slim girl,
      Together gaze on solitary fields.
    • "Y Serch Lledrad" (Love Kept Secret), line 23; translation from Dafydd ap Gwilym (ed. and trans. Rachel Bromwich) A Selection of Poems (Harmondsworth, Penguin, [1982] 1985) p. 34.


  • Yr wylan deg ar lanw dioer
    Unlliw ag eiry neu wenlloer,
    Dilwch yw dy degwch di,
    Darn fel haul, dyrnfol, heli.
    • O sea-bird, beautiful upon the tides,
      White as the moon is when the night abides,
      Or snow untouched, whose dustless splendour glows
      Bright as a sunbeam and whose white wing throws
      A glove of challenge on the salt sea-flood.
    • "Yr Wylan" (To the Sea-gull), line 1; translation from Robert Gurney (ed. and trans.) Bardic Heritage (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969) p. 130.


  • Yr wybrwynt helynt hylaw
    Agwrdd drwst a gerdda draw,
    Gŵr eres wyd garw ei sain,
    Drud byd heb droed heb adain.
    • Welkin's wind, way unhindered,
      Big blusterer passing by,
      A harsh-voiced man of marvels,
      World-bold, without foot or wing.
    • "Y Gwynt" (The Wind), line 1; translation by Joseph P. Clancy, from Gwyn Jones (ed.) The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English (Oxford: OUP, 1977) p. 38.


  • Nythod ddwyn, cyd nithud ddail,
    Ni'th dditia neb, ni'th etail,
    Na llu rhugl, na llaw rhaglaw,
    Na llafn glas na llif na glaw.
    • Winnowing leaves, you steal nests,
      None charge you, you're not halted
      By armed band, lieutenant's hand,
      Blue blade or flood or downpour.
    • "Y Gwynt" (The Wind), line 13; translation by Joseph P. Clancy, from Gwyn Jones (ed.) The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English (Oxford: OUP, 1977) p. 39.

CriticismEdit

  • No lover in any language, and certainly no poet, has confessed to missing the mark more often than Dafydd ap Gwilym. Uncooperative husbands, quick-triggered alarms, crones and walls, strong locks, floods and fogs and bogs and dogs are for ever interposing themselves between him and golden-haired Morfudd, black-browed Dyddgu, or Gwen the infinitely fair. But a great trier, even in church.
    • Gwyn Jones, in The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English (Oxford: OUP, 1977) p. 289.


  • Yet Dafydd's humour does not obscure, any more than Chaucer's does, the underlying seriousness of his poetry. Behind his poems of requited and unrequited love, whether idyllic or idealizing, whether streaked by savage jealousy or a profound feeling of betrayal reminiscent of Troilus and Criseyde, there runs a sense of the cruel impermanence of the world.
    • Patrick Sims-Williams, in Boris Ford (ed.) Medieval Literature: The European Inheritance (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983) p. 302.


External linksEdit

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Last modified on 12 April 2014, at 11:34