Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr

For the 19th-century poet, see Robert Elis.

Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr ("Cynddelw the Great Poet"; Middle Welsh: Kyndelw Brydyt or Cyndelw Brydyd Maur; fl. c. 1155–1200), was the court poet of Madog ap Maredudd, Owain Gwynedd (Owen the Great), and Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd,[1] and one of the most prominent Welsh poets of the 12th century.

Cynddelw began his career as court poet to Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys. At Madog's death in 1160, Cynddelw wrote the following elegy:

While Madog lived there was no man

Dared ravage his fair borders
Yet nought of all he held
Esteemed he his save by God's might…

If my noble lord were alive
Gwynedd would not now be encamped in the heart of Edeyrnion.

Cynddelw composed poems for a number of the later rulers of Powys, now divided into two parts, such as Owain Cyfeiliog and Gwenwynwyn. He also composed poems addressed to the rulers of Gwynedd and Deheubarth, and notably poems addressed to Owain Gwynedd and to his son Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd and later to Rhys ap Gruffudd of Deheubarth and to the young Llywelyn the Great. Poems and elegy to Lord Rhirid Flaidd of Penllyn. There is also a eulogy for Cynddelw's own son, Dygynnelw, who was killed in battle. He gives a vivid picture of the aftermath of a battle in one of his poems:

I saw after battle intestines on the thorns

Left for the wolves to bury.

Cynddelw was known in his time for opposing superstition, and the monks of Strata Marcella in Powys sent "a deputation to him with a requisition that he should renounce his errors, and make satisfaction to the Church, threatening, in case of non-compliance, that he should be excommunicated and deprived of Christian burial."[1] His answer was the following:

Cen ni bai ammod dyfod—i'm herbyn

A Duw gwyn yn gwybod
Oedd iawnach i fynach fod
Im gwrthefyn nag im gwrthod.

Which, translated, reads, "Since no covenenant would be produced against me, which the God of purity knows, it would have been more just of the monks to receive than to reject me."[1]


The traditional English names are not always direct translations of the Middle Welsh names.

See also


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