Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

9. Moliant i Fwrog

edited by Eurig Salisbury


This poem is found in eight comparatively early manuscripts which were all copied within a period of about a hundred years between c.1585 and the second half of the seventeenth century. The edition is based on the four earliest texts, namely C 3.37 (1597–36), C 4.101 (c.1600–14), Gwyn 3 (c.1600) and LlGC 3049D (c.1585–1636).

The manuscripts form two distinct threads which stem ultimately from the same written source, named X1 (stemma). The first is represented by Gwyn 3, whose text seems to derive from an oral tradition. The second thread is represented by three other manuscripts that stem from a good written source, named X2. Gwyn 3 has two couplets which were not in X2, one of which is certainly genuine (see ll. 13–14n). The order of lines 29–36 is different, and the placement of lines 35–6 in X2 seems to be slightly more convincing than in Gwyn 3 (where they follow ll. 27–8, see ll. 35‒6n), so the edition follows the line order of X2. Furthermore, Gwyn 3 is clearly defective in lines 20, 37 and 44 (see the notes) and shows signs of correction (2n, 15n, 27n, 34n, 45n, 47n, 50n; for other possible examples, see ll. 5, 26, 31, 35, 48). However, it has preserved at least one important reading (54n).

The edition is based mainly on the manuscripts that stem from X2. There are some obvious errors in C 3.37 (ll. 3, 4, 12, 31), a manuscript compiled for Owen Ellis, in all likelihood, at Ystumllyn near Cricieth. Its text has another couplet following line 36 that belongs to Rhys Goch Glyndyfrdwy’s unedited poem on the same subject (see Bowen 1953–4: 120): be byw ithel ab ifan / a Rvs ni chae neb i ran ‘If Ithel ab Ifan and Rhys were alive, / no one would have their share’. Huw Machno, who wrote pedigrees at the end of the manuscript, may have read the copy of the poem in C 3.37, but there is no reason to believe it is associated with his own copies of the poem in C 4.101 and LlGC 3049D. It seems that both these manuscripts were compiled for John Wynn of Gwydir and, as a few common readings suggest, stem from another lost source, named X3, rather than X2 (ll. 27n, 41n, 46n). Daniel Huws (RepWM) describes Huw Machno as a scribe who was given to ‘improving’ his texts. It seems that Huw followed X3 closely in LlGC 3049D, but his instincts as a poet probably got the better of him on three occasions as he copied in C 4.101 (44n, 51n, 55n). Nevertheless, in so doing he probably recovered two correct readings.

It is likely that both X2 and X3 and their derivative manuscripts were compiled in Caernarfonshire. Rhys Goch Glyndyfrdwy’s poem, which precedes Gruffudd Nannau’s poem in both of Huw Machno’s manuscripts, was doubtless part of X3, and likewise Hywel Cilan’s poem to request reconciliation with Gruffudd ap Rhys of Dinmael (GHC poem XXIV), which follows Gruffudd Nannau’s poem in both C 3.37 and LlGC 3049D (and is also found in C 4.101), was part of X2. It seems that Jaspar Gryffyth was warden of Ruthin Hospital when he wrote Gwyn 3. The readings of all four manuscripts for lines 51 and 55 (see the notes) suggest that they derive ultimately from a single written source, whose text was defective in parts. It is reasonable to believe that the original written source came to the attention of a reciter in the Ruthin area (the poem’s locality, see l. 4), who committed the text to memory and gradually adjusted it as he performed it, before he committed it again to writing in its altered state in a lost source which later came to the attention of Jasper Gryffyth. The fact that the text in Gwyn 3 has no ascription supports this theory.

In noting the unknown authorship in Gwyn 3, Jaspar Gryffyth also gave his opinion on the work: Incerti authris & insulsi ‘uncertain author and dull’. As a ‘passionate’ Protestant who made similar comments on other poems in the manuscript (see Williams 1931: vii), this base opinion probably reflects Jasper’s objection to the Catholic faith rather than his view on the poem’s style.

Line order: C 3.37 1–8, [9–10], 11–12, [13–14], 15–32, [+ couplet, see above], 33–56; C 4.101, LlGC 3049D 1–8, [9–10], 11–12, [13–14], 15–56; Gwyn 3 1–28, 35–6, 33–4, 29–30, 31–2, 37–56.

The most concise title is found in Gwyn 3 Cywydd i fwrog sant ‘A cywydd to St Mwrog’, and the fullest in C 3.37 kowydd karchorion arhain oedd feib[ion Ieuan] fvchan ab iefan ab adda o bengw[ern] ‘A cywydd for prisoners, and these were the sons of Ieuan Fychan ab Ieuan ab Adda of Pengwern’. There is little by way of a title in C 4.101 kowydd ir vn rhyw wyr and LlGC 3049D kowydd ir vn gwyr ‘A cywydd to the same men’, both of which refer to the preceding poem in both manuscripts, namely Rhys Goch Glyndyfrdwy’s poem on the same subject. That poem’s text in C 4.101 is titled kowydd i yrv r llevad imofyn am feibion Ienn’ vychan ap Inn’ ap adda ‘A cywydd to send the moon to fetch the sons of Ieuan Fychan ab Ieuan ab Adda’, and in LlGC 3049D kowydd i feibion Ienn’ vychan ap Ienn’ ap adda a fwrdawyd yn i karchar ‘A cywydd to the sons of Ieuan Fychan ab Ieuan ab Adda who were murdered in prison’.

The manuscripts
C 3.37, 37‒9 (unknown, 1597‒36)
C 4.101, 140r‒140v (Huw Machno, c.1600‒14)
Gwyn 3, 69v‒70r (Jaspar Gryffyth, c.1600)
LlGC 3049D, 500‒1 (Huw Machno, c.1585‒1636)
⁠LlGC 8330B, 192 (Lewis Maurice, c.1634‒47)
⁠LlGC 9857C, 1r (unknown, second half of the 17c.)
⁠Llst 124, 181 (William Bodwrda, c.1648)
⁠Llst 167, 334 (Siôn Dafydd Laes, second half of the 17c.)