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List of Welsh language poets (6th century to c.1600)

''See also Welsh-language poets

Welsh language poetry has, until quite recently, been regulated by specific verse forms (Canu Caeth), with the encouragement of the eisteddfod movement. The following list is as inclusive as possible for the years prior to 1600. It includes as many minor poets as possible to illustrate the range and content of Welsh poetry throughout the ages. Note that much early poetry has been lost and also that a great deal of medieval verse is either anonymous or, usually in the case of mythological poems and prophetic verse, attributed to the 6th century poet Taliesin or the mythical figure of Myrddin. Early religious and gnomic verse is also usually anonymous. Where possible examples of each poets surviving work is presented at Welsh Poetry at Wikisource

Each period of the poets listed below is accompanied by a graphical timeline to illustrate the main events and individuals that influenced the poets and their work. These timelines also depict the development of the Welsh language. This page is limited to the practitioners of the language and further details of its development may be found at Welsh language.

Pre 6th century

No works by Welsh poets prior to the sixth century have survived. Tradition records:

  • Maelgwyn of Llandaff (c. 450) - said, according to one source, to have written of Joseph of Arimathea's burial at Glastonbury. However in the mid-5th century he would have spoken Brythonic, not Welsh, and as a monk would probably have written in Latin. His existence is doubtful.
  • St. Meugan (fl. c. late 5th century) - possibly a court poet to Cadwallon of Gwynedd

6th century to 1100

Extant

The bulk of surviving verse from the period known as "Canu'r Bwlch" is anonymous. (see Wikisource)

The works of the following poets, belonging to the Hengerdd or Cynfeirdd period, are extant and accepted as probably genuine:

  • Aneirin (Neirin mab Dwyrei) (fl. 550–600)
  • Taliesin (fl. later 6th century)

The following works are probably apocryphal:

The englyn-cycles which were previously attributed to Llywarch Hen and Heledd are now seen as works of later (ninth-tenth century) poets.

  • Juvencus Manuscript/ Cambridge Juvencus (late 9th Century) contains two Welsh englyn-poems, one of nine and one of three englynion. For the text and Sir Ifor William's translation see: The Juvencus Englynion
  • St Elaeth (11th Century) - a poet and a monk whose surviving verse is recorded in the Black Book Of Carmarthen.

Nonextant or doubtful

Four others are named by Nennius as poets of renown alongside Taliesin and Aneirin:

*Blwchbardd
*Cian (Guenith Guaut)
*Culfardd
*Talhaearn Tad Awen

  • Arofan (7th Century)
  • Cuhelyn Fardd (?9th Century) - referred to in several poems but otherwise unknown. None of his work survives. The earliest reference to him is in a text found in the Black Book Of Carmarthen.
  • Bleheris (?11th Century) - an otherwise unknown poet of doubtful authenticity referred to as "born and bred in Wales" in Gawain and as a source for the story.

Other

  • Myrddin ab Morfryn - was believed by some to be an historical person who died in AD 570, but is now accepted as a mythical figure (see Merlin).

Timeline

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 at:410   text:•  Collapse of the Roman Empire in Britain

 from:  550  till: 600 color:PA text:"Aneirin"
 at:570   text:†St Gildas

 from:  575  till: 600 color:PA text:"Taliesin"
 at:589   text:†St David

 at:594   text:•  First occurrence of 'Arthur' in Welsh poetry
 at:597   text:•  St. Augustine in Britain
 at:640   text:•  Earliest date 'Marwnad Cynddylan' thought to be composed
 at:670   text:•  Earliest date 'Canu Heledd' thought to be composed

 from:  757  till: 795 color:BL text:"Offa’s Dyke constructed"

 from:  800  till: 825 color:PA text:"Llywarch Hen"
 at:820      text:•  Historia Britonum composed

 at:840   text:•  Viking raids on the Welsh coast
 at:870   text:•  Juvencus Manuscript

 at:877   text:†Rhodri Mawr
 at:909   text:†Asser
 at:930   text:•  Armes Prydein composed
 at:950   text:†Hywel Dda

 at:970   text:•  Annales Cambriae

 at:1060  text:•  Mabinogion composed
 at:1063  text:†Gruffudd ap Llywelyn
 at:1066  text:•  Norman Conquest
 at:1090  text:•  Creation of Welsh March
 at:1100  text:•  Birth of Geoffrey of Monmouth

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 color:white   bar:Welsh from:1050 till:1200 text:"Middle Welsh"

1100 to 1290

The following group of court poets used to be called the Gogynfeirdd and are now generally referred to as "Beirdd y Tywysogion", the Poets of the Princes. The list is roughly chronological.

Timeline of Major Poets

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 from:  1100 till: 1137 color:PA text:"Meilyr Brydydd (1100-1137)"
 from:  1130 till: 1180 color:PA text:"Gwalchmai ap Meilyr (1130-1180)"

 from:  1130 till: 1197 color:PA text:"Owain ap Gruffydd (1130-1197)"
 from:  1155 till: 1200 color:PA text:"Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr(1255-1200)"

 at:1160 text:†Madog ap Maredudd
 at:1170 text:†Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd
 at:1176 text:•  First known eisteddfod at Cardigan

 at:1223 text:†Gerald of Wales

 from:  1230 till: 1260 color:PA text:"Dafydd Benfras(1230-1260)"

 at:1240 text:†Llywelyn ab Iorwerth

 from:  1277 till: 1282 color:PA text:"Gruffudd ab Yr Ynad Coch (1277-1282)"

 at:1282text:†Llywelyn ap Gruffydd

 at:1284      text:•  Statute of Rhuddlan incorporates Wales into England

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1290 to c.1500

The poets of this period are known as Beirdd yr Uchelwyr. The list is fairly chronological but not exhaustive as the work of some minor poets of the late 15th and 16th centuries remains in manuscript and a large corpus of late medieval Darogan, prophetic verse, is anonymous or attributed to early poets. Traditional patronage dwindled in the late 16th century but a handful of bards still received patronage from the gentry into the 17th century. Free verse by individuals composing "freelance" gradually took over from the mid-sixteenth century onwards.

Timeline of Major Poets

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 from:  1320 till: 1370 color:PA text:"Dafydd ap Gwilym(c. 1320-c. 1370)"
 from:  1320 till: 1398 color:PA text:"Iolo Goch (1320-1398)"
 from:  1330 till: 1420 color:PA text:"Rhys Goch Eryri (1330-1420)"

 at:1340   text:"•  White Book of Hergest"
 at:1346   text:"•  Book of the Anchorite of Llanddewibrefi "

 from:  1347 till: 1350 color:BL text:"Black Death in Wales"

 from:  1350 till: 1390 color:PA text:"Llywelyn Goch ap Meurig Hen (fl. c. 1350-1390)"

 at:1356   text:"†Einion Offeiriad"
 at:1371   text:"†Dafydd Ddu Athro o Hiraddug"

 from:  1400 till: 1430 color:PA text:"Siôn Cent (c. 1400 – 1430)"
 from:  1400 till: 1490 color:PA text:"Dafydd Llwyd o Fathafarn (fl. c.1400–c.1490"

 at:1400   text:"†Geoffrey Chaucer in England"
 at:1400   text:"•  Red Book of Hergest "
 at:1416   text:"†Owain Glyndŵr"

 from:  1420 till: 1490 color:PA text:"Lewys Glyn Cothi (c. 1420 - 1490)"
 from:  1450 till: 1497 color:PA text:"Dafydd ab Edmwnd (fl. c. 1450–97)"
 from:  1450 till: 1490 color:PA text:"Dafydd Nanmor (fl. 1450 – 1490)"

 from:  1445 till: 1485 color:GP text:"War of the Roses"

 from:  1462 till: 1500 color:PA text:"Gwerful Mechain (fl. 1462–1500)"

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16th century

Most of the earlier poets here are very much in the Beirdd yr Uchelwyr tradition. Traditional patronage dwindled in the late 16th century but a handful of bards still received patronage from the gentry into the 17th century. Free verse by individuals composing "freelance" gradually took over from the mid-sixteenth century onwards. The free verse and strict metre poets sit rather uneasily together in this list.

  • Tudur Aled (c. 1465 – 1525)
  • Lewys Môn (fl. 1485–1527)
  • Gruffudd ap Ieuan ap Llywelyn Fychan (c. 1485 – 1553) - poet and official at the Caerwys eisteddfod in 1524.
  • Siôn Ceri (fl. early 16th Century
  • Ieuan ap rhys ap Llywlyn (fl. beginning of 16th Century) - whose surviving work includes a poem composed on an outbreak of smallpox.
  • Matthew Brwmffild (fl. 1520–1560) - whose poems in praise of nobility are recorded in one of the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Lewys Daron (fl. 1520–1539) - who is best known for his elegy on the death of Tudur Aled.
  • Lewys Morgannwg (fl. 1520–1565)
  • Siôn Tudur (1522–1602)
  • Dafydd Trefor (died 1528) - whose work includes cywyddau on religious themes and an elegy on the death of Henry VII.
  • Harri ap Rhys Gwilym
  • Powys Lewis (fl. c. 1530) - whose poems in praise of nobility are recorded in one of the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Simwnt Fychan (c. 1530 – 1606)
  • Wiliam Llŷn (c. 1534 – 1580)
  • St. Richard Gwyn (c. 1537 – 1584) - who composed a number of odes in defence of Catholicism, while jailed.
  • Alice ferch Gruffudd ap Ieuan Fychan (fl. 1540–1570) - whose surviving poems include musings on the type of man she desired to marry and on her fathers’ second marriage.
  • Catrin ferch Gruffudd ap Ieuan Fychan (fl. 16th Century) - whose surviving poem is on a theme of religion.
  • Huw Llyn (fl. 1540–1570)
  • Morus Dwyfach (fl. 1540–1580)
  • Rhys Cain (c. 1540 – 1614)
  • Llywelyn Siôn (c. 1540 – 1615)
  • Siôn Phylip (1543–1620)
  • Edmwnd Prys (c. 1543 – 1623)
  • Robin Clidro (1545–1580)
  • Dafydd Alaw (fl. 1550) - whose surviving work includes an elegy to Lewys Môn and poems in priase of the nobility of Anglesey.
  • Wiliam Midleton (c. 1550 – c. 1596)
  • Dafydd Benwyn (1550–1600) - who composed poems to the nobility of Glamorgan.
  • Morris Kyffin (c. 1555 – 1598)
  • Catrin ferch Gruffudd ap Hywel (fl. c. 1555) - who composed a poem in praise of Jesus Christ.
  • Lewys ap Hywel (1560–1600)
  • Huw Ceiriog (c. 1560 – 1600)
  • Gwilym Gwyn (fl. c. 1560–1600) - whose surviving work includes a cywydd to St. Elian Geimiad.
  • Dafydd ap Ieuan ab Owen (fl. c. 1560) - who composed poems in praise of the town of Harlech and an invective against the world inspired by the loss of his land.
  • Gruffudd Hiraethog (died 1564)
  • Tomos Prys (c. 1564 – 1634)
  • Edward Maelor (fl. 1567–1603) - who composed poems to the nobility of north Wales.
  • Rhisiart Gruffudd (fl. c. 1569) - whose surviving work includes a poem seeking reconciliation between Sir Richard Bulkeley of Anglesey with his second wife, Agnes, who had been accused of poisoning her husband.
  • Huw Llwyd (c. 1568 – c. 1630) - a soldier, poet and rumoured wizard whose poems on hunting are recorded in one of the Peniarth manuscripts.
  • Edwart ap Raff (fl. 1578–1606) - whose surviving work includes a poem about the Battle of Saint Quentin in 1557.
  • Rhys Prichard (1579–1644)
  • Elis Cynfrig (fl. 1580–1620) - whose poems on themes of religion and love are recorded in some of the Peniarth and British Museum manuscripts.
  • Wiliam Cynwal (died c. 1588)
  • Cadwaladr ap Rhys Trefnant (fl. 1600) - whose surviving poems in praise of noble families of Montgomeryshire are recorded in some of the Peniarth and Mostyn manuscripts.

Timeline of Major Poets

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 from:  1465 till: 1525 color:PA text:"Aled Tudur (c.1465-1525)"

 at:1495   text:"†Jasper Tudor"
 at:1509   text:"†Henry VII"

 from:  1520 till: 1565 color:PA text:"Lewys Morgannwg (fl. 1520–1565)"
 at:1520   text:

 from:  1522 till: 1602 color:PA text:"Siôn Tudur (1522-1602)"

 at:1525   text:"†Sir Rhys ap Thomas"
 at:1536   text:"•  Henry VIII's Act of Union (English becomes official language of Wales)"

 from:  1537 till: 1584 color:PA text:"St. Richard Gwyn (c.1537-1584)"
 from:  1543 till: 1632 color:PA text:"Edmwnd Prys (1543/4-1623)"

 at:1546   text:"•  Sir John Price publishes 'Yn y Lhyvyr Hwnn'"
 at:1547   text:"†Henry VIII"
 at:1553   text:"†Edward VI"
 at:1558   text:"†Queen Mary"

 at:1568   text:"•  Queen Elizabeth I orders an eisteddfod to be held in Caerwys"

 from:  1579 till: 1644 color:PA text:"Rhys Prichard (1579-1644)"

 at:1587   text:"†Wiliam Cynwal"
 at:1588   text:"•  William Morgan publishes first Welsh translation of the Bible"

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References

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