Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

19. Moliant i Ddewi

edited by Eurig Salisbury


This poem survives in one manuscript only, Llst 164, an important manuscript written between 1586 and 1613 that includes collections by many poets from south-east Wales. Richard Turbeville wrote in it a collection of poetry by Rhisiart ap Rhys, as well as collections by Rhisiart’s son, Lewys Morgannwg, his father, Rhys Brydydd, and his uncle, Gwilym Tew. Daniel Huws (2004: 19) suggests that it is likely that both Rhisiart’s and Lewys’s poems derive from autograph texts, as is the case in C 2.277 (c.1606) and J 90 (beginning of the 16c.), where Turbeville copied autograph poems by Dafydd Benwyn. It is interesting to compare the quality of the present text with a disclaimer of sorts written by Turbeville concerning the quality of his text in J 90: ag o gwelwch gam ysgryfenad yndo na diffygion amgen / tybygwch er y vod ef[Dafydd Benwyn] yn brydydd na doedd ef ysgryfynedydd nag ysgwlhaig or goraü / na minaü yn gallü yn hollol wella yr ysgryfenyddiaeth gan vod y papre or gerdd y koppiais i hwnn oddywrthyn yn dywyll ag yn llapre ‘And if you find mistakes in it or other deficiencies, you may suppose that, although he [Dafydd Benwyn] was a poet, he was not the best of scribes nor of scholars, and I could not fully improve the composition, as the papers from which I copied this poem are darkened and in tatters’ (see RWM ii, 56). It seems that some complications in the present text stemmed from similar copying difficulties (see notes for ll. 23, 24, 36, 53), but the condition of the text is good on the whole. As with Lewys Morgannwg’s poems in the manuscript, Rhisiart’s poems were not copied in any discernible order (see GLMorg 14–15).

Next to the first four couplets of the poem, Richard Turbeville wrote four other couplets, and by their side another later scribe wrote this note: cymer y pedwar pennill issod yn lle’r pedwar vchod ‘take the four couplets below in place of the four above’. Every couplet is the same as in the original text except the first:

davydd hollwyr crevydd cred
da n vyniw i danfoned

‘David, all the men of devotion in Christendom,
they were sent down to St Davids’

Unlike the original couplet, this new couplet is more general in nature. The first line of the poem, Swrn o dir a siwrnai dyn ‘Much land and a man’s journey’, is meaningful only in light of the last lines of the poem (see ll. 1–2n (explanatory)). Rhisiart ap Rhys himself may have amended the text after deciding that the original couplet was too disconnected from the beginning of the poem (cf. 10.2n (textual)). The only difference in the other attached couplets is that lines 5–6 and 7–8 have changed places, but there is no reason to believe that this new line order is superior to the original order in the manuscript.

The manuscript has a rather modest I Sanct Dewi ‘To Saint David’, based on the first part of the poem only.

The manuscript
Llst 164, 198‒9 (Richard Turbeville, 1586–1613)