The Celtic Literature Collective

Englynion y Clyweid
The Sayings of Wise Men
From the Red Book of Talgarth

Hast thou heard what Geraint1 sang,
The son of Erbin just and skilful?
Short-lived is the hater of the saints.

Hast thou heard what Gwrhyr Gwalstawt sang,
He who was perfect in all languages?
Who practices deceit will be deceived.

Hast thou heard what Avaon sang,
The son of Taliesin, of the recording verse?
The cheek will not conceal the anguish of the heart.

Hast thou heard what Esperir said,
When he discoursed with Meni Hir?
In adversity is the true friend known.

Hast thou heard what was sung by Huail2
The son of Caw, whose saying was just?
Often will a curse fall from the bosom.

Hast thou heard what Llenlleawg Gwyddel3 sang,
The noble chief wearing the golden torques?
The grave is better than a life of want.

Hast thou heard what Dremhidydd sang,
An ancient watchmant on the castle walls?
A refusal is better than a promise unperformed.

Hast thou heard what Garselit sang,
The Irishman whom it is safe to follow?
Sin is bad when long pursued.

Hast thou heard what Bedwini sung,
A gifted Bishop of exalted rank?
Consider thy word before it is given.

Hast thou heard what Creiddylad4 sang,
The daughter of Lludd, the constant maiden?
Much will the faithful messenger effect.

Hast thou heard the saying of Heinin
The Bard of the college of Llanfeithin?
The brave is never cruel!

Hast thou heard what Rhydderch sang,
Third most generous lover of love?
Too much love makes too much hate.

Hast thou heard what the thrush sang?
When you travel through the wild country,
Don't let thy enemy be your companion.

Hast thou heard what Teilo sang,
The man who was penetant?
It is not good to strike against God.

Hast thou heard what the fish sang,
As he floundered among the stalks?
Nature is stronger than education.

1. Geraint: same as the hero of Llongborth and of the Romance
2. Huail, brother of St. Gildas, and an enemy of King Arthur.
3. Llenlleawg Gwyddel: lit "Llenlleawg the Irishman," mentioned in "Culhwch and Olwen" as one of Arthur's men.
4. Creiddylad: lover of Gwyn ap Nudd and daughter of either Lludd or Llyr, making her the prototype of Cordelia.

This is said to be in the Red Book of Talgarth circa 1400. It is a collection of sayings, put in the mouths of legendary Britons, like Rhydderch (of Vita Merlini fame), Heinin (who Taliesin made a fool of), Creiddylad (daughter of Lludd or Llyr, and lover of Gwynn ap Nudd), etc. as mentioned above; Most of these englynion come from Lady Guest's notes on the Mabinogion or other collections. As far as I know, it's only ever been printed in the Myvyrian Archaeology, which I unfortunately do not have access to. What I have done is cobble different sources together, and so this is not as it would appear in the manuscript, but is out of order.

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