Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

4. Mawl i Ddewi Sant

edited by Dafydd Johnston


This poem has survived in two versions, one in Pen 53 from the late fifteenth century, and the other in BL 14967 from the second quarter of the sixteenth century. The seven later copies derive either directly or indirectly from one of these two manuscripts, Llst 120 and Llst 54 from Pen 53, NLW 19904B and BL 31063 from BL 14967, and NLW 2026B, NLW Minor Deposit 55B and BL 14970 from NLW 19904B. The edited text is based on Pen 53 and BL 14967. Robert Vaughan made a number of reasonable improvements to his copy in NLW 19904B, but there is no evidence that he had any independent source for them. Most have been accepted in the edited text (see textual notes).

The two versions are quite different to one another in terms of number and order of lines, and in their readings for a number of lines. Sixteen lines are missing in Pen 53, and six in BL 14967. There is also an additional couplet in Pen 53 which appears to be an attempt to fill a gap caused by the loss of the end of the sentence about pilgrimage (see n3(t)). It is difficult to judge which line order is correct in places since narrative sections can be transposed without affecting the structure of the poem (e.g. the couplets about the birds and the stags, ll. 85–8, and the section about Lent, ll. 69–72). Both versions give the impression of being the product of a period of oral transmission, during which the complex style of the original poem has been simplified, particularly in Pen 53. It is only by drawing on each version in turn that we can hope to recreate the poet’s composition.

Line order: BL 14967 1–36, [37–40], 41–8, [49–50], 51–6, 59–64, 57–8, 65–8, 73–100, 69–72, 101–10; Pen 53 1–8, [+ couplet, see textual notes], [9–12], 13–22, 25–6, 23–4, 33–4, 27–32, 35–52, [53–6], 57–62, [63–4], 65–76, 79–80, 77–8, [81–2], 83–4, 87–8, 85–6, 99–100, 95–8, 89–94, 101, [102, 103], 104, [105–6], 107–10.

The poem has no title in either Pen 53 or BL 14967.

List of manuscripts
BL 14967, 202–3 (unknown hand, after 1527)
BL 14970, 58r (Edward Williams ‘Iolo Morganwg’, c.1800)
BL 31063, 110v (Owen Jones ‘Owain Myfyr’, 18c.)
Llst 54, 190 (an assistant of Moses Williams, first half of 18c.)
Llst 120, 181 (Jasper Gryffyth, c.1597 × 1607)
NLW 2026B, 90 (Evan Evans ‘Ieuan Fardd’, 1764)
NLW 19904B, 49v (Robert Vaughan, mid-17c.)
NLW Minor Deposit 55B, 317 (David Ellis, c.1788)
Pen 53, 91–6 (unknown hand, c.1484)