Mythology and storytelling in an oral tradition was a way of preserving a tribes history, its hero’s and villains and the important truths that were needed to be learned – it is its collective memory and wisdom. Commentators from Plato onwards have regarded the strange, dream-like recitations of antiquity as shimmering with esoteric significance, the visible veil of a higher invisible truth. The many characters that appear in these texts were actual people (Wales was very good at recording its genealogies) – they were the Kings and Queens (the leaders, war-lords and princes of the cantrevs [counties] of Wales).
Here we have the earliest available route into the thought-world of oral antiquity. For those of us who draw inspiration from our Brythonic past to colour our present day World View they are an invaluable resource.
William Skene’s anthology of dark-age Welsh Bardic poetry. Often cited, but difficult to obtain, this book contains every remaining piece of Bardic poetry known. The poems are translated from four manuscripts: the Black Book of Caermarthen, the Red Book of Hergest (which is also the source of the Mabinogion), the Book of Taliessin and the Book of Aneurin, all of which date from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries C.E. The poems themselves date from much earlier, probably from the sixth century by internal evidence. This corpus is one of the treasures of world literature.
More Welsh Books & Texts To Come
Title given by its original translators and editors – the antiquarians, William Pughe and Lady Charlotte Guest in the early nineteenth century (based on a mistaken plural for the word Mabinogi). It was compiled from the texts of two manuscripts; the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch deriving from originals composed between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries – a golden age of narrative prose that flourished in Wales. Download HereThe Four Branches of the MabinogiPwyll Prince of DyfedBranwen Daughter of LlyrMath fab MathonwyManawyddan son of LlyrThe Native TalesLlud & LlefelysThe Dream of Macsen WledigCullwuch & OlwenThe Dream of RhonabwyThe Three RomancesOwainPeredurGereint & Enid
Llyfr Coch Hergest (The Red Book of Hergest) – is a large vellum manuscript written shortly after 1382 which ranks as one of the most important medieval manuscripts written in the Welsh language. It preserves a collection of Welsh prose and poetry, ‘Gogynfeirdd’ poetry.
Download HereThe Chronicle of the PrincesDialogue between Myrddin & his sister GwenddyddA Fugitive Poem of Myrddin in His GraveThe Physicians of Myddfai Medical Book
The Black Book of Carmarthen – a manuscript dating to the middle of the thirteenth century. It is believed to have been the work of a single scribe at the Priory of St. John in Carmarthen. The sections that appear here are the material to do with the figures of the Dark Ages–Myrddin, Arthur, Urien, and TaliesinDownload HereThe Dialogue of Myrddin & TaliesinThe Triads of the HorsesThe Birch TreesThe Apple Trees