Saturday, September 23, 2006

Praise to Maredudd Fychan of Garddfaelog, Llanbister

This is my translation of a superb praise poem verging on satire addressed to Maredudd Fychan of Garddfaelog, Llanbister by the bard Gwilym ab Ieuan Hen. Reflecting the sacrilegious nature of bardic poetry, Gwilym compares the praise meted out to Mareduud by a succession of bards as a chasuble that lends the subject authority and places him under an obligation. The relationship between bard and patron was one of equals not as many believe one of sychophancy.

I am young and bold, I sow praise,
Generous one of the land of Mael, the kingdom of Melwas,
By the Pope, I know who you are!
Maredudd Fychan, to the bards an equal of Ifor,
A spear, the red fire of war!

On nine occasions I've frequented
Your court with a fair design;
Often, in a good humour,
You give to us Maredudd;
A foundation in the headwaters of Maelienydd.
There is much talk of you,
Grandson of Meurig Llwyd, the great spear
who would meet wrath with anger.
Holy God turned away the violence of your enemy
With your great grandfather's clothing.

Wear it, Lord of bright llanbister,
The heavy cloak of fame!
Seed of Ynyr, it was designed for your body,
The worth of ten men.
Llywelyn, that elegant singer of praise,
Designed it, properly, in public,
The fair son of Y Moel, golden hostage,
Arwystl's goldsmith of eulogy;
Llawdden kept the bargain,
You are generous in his dye;
Earnest Swrdwal, craftsman of pleasant odes,
Has faultlessly sown upon this face,
No stitch he placed comes undone,
No careless work from his lip!
And no blunt needle was used
In Gwilym's long seam of praise!
Their work is good this praise of men,
Her tailors are an elect;
A chasuble of harmonious words
Consecrated by these beautiful chiefs of song.

Grandson of Baron Meurig, your cloak
Is like ( from what I know )
the mantle ( if they understand it
You'll have your song ) of ancient Tegau,
In the ancient days of Caerleon,
Where each morning she was tested,
For others it proved short ( short without doubt )
Yet long enough for Tegau.
Sustainer of the bards, this is the kind of
Cloak that I, a young man, have sown for you.
How strange that I am teamed
With a man who is not generous with his wealth;
He should not hide but share his gold,
Your doublet is expensive M'redudd,
Expensive, so you must give gold!
twenty pounds, famous offspring,
It has cost you so far!
By Cybi! There's a miser
Upon your brow, Morda' of the land of Mael,
He'll not give a farthing, less is the favour
Of the hostage who does not give openly.
It is not to be had for money or friendship,
Good clothes do not suit the fellow;
How rarely clothes such as yours are to be had,
They were designed from generosity!

Hiding myself, without fear
Within the song I've made,
Within the diligently tongued praise,
You have a complaint that must be met.
This is your praise, a fair contract,
Here fullness of Maelienydd,
When it deserts you, Mary will desert you,
By the blood of God, let him be generous!

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