Arthurian and Grail Poetry

Moliant Cadwallon or In Praise of Cadwallon

   This poem survives only in a seventeenth-century manuscript; but RG Gruffudd has argued that it should be regarded as preserving a genuine 7th century poem. Gruffudd believes that it reflects the situation of 633CE (between Cadwallon's destruction of Edwin and his own death at Cantscaul). The poem may be attributable to Afan Ferddig, Cadwallon's bard according to the Triads.
   If it is a genuine seventh century poem, the poem is noteworthy on a number of points: 1) the early use of 'Cymru'; 2) its mention of Gwallawc in association with a battle at Catraeth; and 3) its similarities to y Gododdin: 'caeawg cynhorawg' recalls the 'kayawc kynhorawc' chain and the use of the word 'maon'. Note that the translation is slightly different from the original language version provided. 
   Cadwallon ap Cadfan, king of Gwynedd, led a powerful confederation of kings (including Penda of Mercia) against Northumbria defeating and killing Edwin in 633 (Gweith Meigen). But he was himself defeated and killed by Oswald of Bernicia at Cantscaul in 635. After his death the alliance with Penda continued but with Penda gradually becoming the dominant partner. They almost destroyed the Northumbrians (defeating them as far North as Stirling — Atbret Iudeu). But in 655, Penda was defeated and killed in the slaughter of Winwaed/Gai (along with most of the Welsh and North British kings fighting with him, save only Catamail the Battle-shirker of Gwynedd and probably including Cynddylan of Powys). The events are recorded both by Bede and in the Welsh Annals.

 

Moliant Cadwallon

Aches ymleinw tafl twrf ym myddin,
Twrf Cadwallon hael eddyl fuddin —
Esgar hyddhafal â thân chwefrin.
Rhahawd ei gadfeirch a'i radlawn — feddud,
Ei folud ar llyr llawn,
Na fid gwynt Deau a môr eigiawn
Hefelys i long nâr llu estrawn.
Hydd esgyr ei wyr a daly iawn.
Ni fad-aned mab byth mor rhadlawn.
Cynnefod Echel aeth cywryd gamawn.
Tewid rhiau crawn rhag udd proestlawn,
Garddai er pan aned dyn dyfnddawn — Cymru
Pan rygreas Crist Cadwallawn.
Ys amnoddwy Duw ei ddewr — orchorddon
Nis arlluddion' gwynt a thonnawr,
Cychwedl a'm doddwy o Wynedd glawr
Lladd ei gwyr yn aer anoleithawr.
Diau trafodynt lladd â llafnawr.
Rhifed odudded a gynhennawr
Yd wna; o Gadwallon pan gymhwyllawr — ym myd
Tra berheÿd nef uch elfydd lawr.
Osid ardd ym Môn ryphebyllas,
Maelgwn hefelydd haelon efras.
Neud ar arch Brynaich ni ryddadlas
Ac Edwin arnu yn dad rhwy dwyllfras.
Ni buglawdd ei wartheg, nis arllafas — neb.
Cyman a gweithen i dan addas
Ar wyneb Cymru, Cadwallon was.
Dybydd inn' ddofydd y luyddawg — Prydain,
Y digones gwychr Wallawg
Eilywed Gatraeth fawr fygedawg.
Biw rhewydd rhan rhad luosawg — yn aer
Yng nghatref gwynwesti farchawg.
Esgor lludded Llong, llan gleddyfawg.
Ysbyddawd Cadwallon Gaergaradawg — fre,
Wrth ei gyfwyre gynne Efrawg.
Cywair ddienwair y funer — Prydain,
Pryd iôr fuddig adfer.
Cedwid grudd Cymru can ddiffer — ei ysgwyd,
Ei ysberi pell yd glywer
(Caeawg cynhorawg cawgawg ffêr)
Pefr Borth Ysgewin, cyffin aber.
Canador cathl gwynfyd gwenleufer
Goluchaf glew hael hilig naf nêr
Aded gynt, ethynt yn hydrfer — hallt
Rhag gawr. Pall-gorthrycher
A fo uch no thi, hael ddifynfer — arglwydd
Onid gorail awyr a sêr
Cadwallawn Einiawn arial ymher…
O Gymru dygynnau tân yn nhir Elfed
Bei yd fynt heb lurig wen waedled
Rhag unmab Cadfan, Cymru ddiffred.
Draig dinas Cymru Cadwallon.
Colofn cyrdd Cymru Cadwallon Môn.
Cymru gan hoelion a fo mor dde.

In Praise of Cadwallon

The sea rushes in. It cast forth a host arrayed for battle —
the host of Cadwallon in the tiumph of his objective,
an opponent like a furious fiery stag.
Copious are his battle steeds and the largess of his mead feasting —
His praise is known over the vast sea:
It sails by the southern wind over the ocean,
Like the ship of the chieftain of a foreign host.
The stag who maintains righteousness gives refuge to his men.
Never was there more generous a son so auspiciously born.
As an exalted and privileged axle the valorous one went to feats.
Miserly kings are silenced before the bounteous one.
They have groaned since the birth of a profoundly gifted champion of the Welsh people
When Christ created Cadwallon.
May God give protection to his bold hosts;
Let wind and waves not overcome them.
Tidings have come to me from the broad land of Gwynedd:
Killing by heroes in inexorable slaughter.
Unfailingly the numerous tribes of fighters
Dealt death with blades.
Cadwallon will achieve in strife what the mind will intend,
So long as heaven remains above the face of the earth.
If there is high ground in Anglesey, he has pitched tents on it,
A man like Maelgwn, a noble youth.
He has not negotiated at the biding of the Bernicians [Northumbrian English]
With Edwin ruling over them as a chief patriarch, the great deceiver.
His cattle will not bellow; none will make a sound.
For the honour [lit 'face']
Of Wales, Cadwallon's land,
He will come as the lord of Britain's hosts.
And Fierce Gwallawc caused
The great mortality of Catraeth, greatly renowned:
Overseas foreigners, loyal followers, and rightful lords; seeking cattle as a portion of great wealth in battle.
In the field headquarters, there was a bright feasting for mounted warriors;
There was deliverance from the exhaustion of shipboard, an enclosure of swords.
The advance of Cadwallon to the heights of Caradawc's citadel,
When there was an armed uprising for the burning of York.
Cywair ddienwair y funer — Prydain,
Pryd iôr fuddig adfer.
Cedwid grudd Cymru can ddiffer — ei ysgwyd,
Ei ysberi pell yd glywer
Consummate and beloved is Britain's sovereign,
The image of a lord returning in victory.
He maintained the honour of the Welsh people by the protection of his shield
Far away may they hear the spears
Of the man wearing the brooch as he rides in the front rank enclosed in gleaming iron
Armour as far as Porth Ysgewin at the estuary on the border
A song is sung of the blessed light of heaven:
I praise the generous and bold lord king, whose lineage is illustrious.
The heathen are departed; they have been driven to the briny sea
Before the great champion. One may not conceive
Of what would be higher than you, noble diademed lord,
If it were not the over-arc of the sky and stars
Cadwallon, a warlike Einiawn, of the Imperium [Britanniae].
...from Wales, to kindle fire in the land of Elmet [South Yorkshire].
...though they would lack bright, bloodstained mailcoats,
Because of the son of Cadfan [Cadwallon], defender of the Welsh.
...the dragon-like chief, defender of the Welsh, Cadwallon.
...pillar of the hosts of the Welsh, Cadwallon of Anglesey.
...Wales may be so sad for its tribulations.