Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

24. Moliant i Bedr o Rosyr

edited by Eurig Salisbury


Lewys Daron composed this poem in praise of Peter, patron saint of the church of Llanbedr Niwbwrch on the western edge of Newborough on Anglesey, not far from one of the ancient courts of the princes of Gwynedd. Niwbwrch is mentioned once and Rhosyr twice (ll. 38, 63, 66), and both names clearly refer to the same place (cf. 18.2, 7). Rhosyr was the name both of one of Anglesey’s three cantrefs and its administrative centre, which was transformed and renamed Newborough following the relocating of the inhabitants of Llan-faes by Edward I after the conquest. There are no other comparable poems to this saint, who is among the Christian world’s most celebrated, but the poets routinely refer to him, often as the keeper of the gates of heaven (cf. GMB 4.25–6; GMD 7.35; GTP Atodiad V.54; TA LXXVII.108; GLD 14.72, 21.88). It is noteworthy that Dafydd ap Gwilym, according to his humorous poem on the misfortune of his servant ( 74.1), visited Newborough on the festival of St Peter (29 June).

Peter is praised by Lewys Daron as both heaven’s gatekeeper and the first pope who was ordained, according to the Gospel of Matthew, by Christ. This is outlined at the beginning of the poem (ll. 1–8), before focusing on two Biblical stories, namely Peter’s denial of Christ (9–16) and his incarceration by Herod and subsequent rescue by an angel (17–28). The poet then praises Peter’s church in Newborough, emphasizing its ability to heal (37–54). Peter is then praised again (55–61) before the poet turns his attention back to Newborough, focusing this time on the virtues of its inhabitants (67–72). In the last lines, he implores Peter to guarantee his people swift passage through the gates of heaven (73–6). The unknown priest of the church, a man fleetingly referred to as Peter’s tenant in line 62, was probably the poem’s patron.

Following Jones’s (1912: 320–1) edition of the poem, Williams (1976: 491) claimed that the church at Newborough once housed an ‘image’ of Peter, and Carr (1982: 295) claimed on this basis that there was once a ‘statue’ of the saint at the church. The poem does not substantiate this, but it is nonetheless possible that the church once housed some sort of image of the saint. On the architecture of the church, which was built possibly in the twelfth century and originally consecrated to Anno, see RCAHM(Ang) 118–19; Haslam et al. 2009: 201–2. This poem may be associated with building work at the church c.1500.

Lewys Daron’s floruit is given as c.1495–c.1530 (GLD xvii–xx). The poem may have been composed c.1500, when it is likely that building work was carried out at the church in Newborough (see above).

Previous editions
Jones 1905: 189–90; Jones 1912: 320–1; GLD poem 28.

Metre and cynghanedd
Cywydd, 76 lines. Cynghanedd: croes 73% (55 ll.), traws 1% (1 l.), sain 25% (19 ll.), llusg 1% (1 l.). It is remarkable that nearly three quarters of the poem’s lines are cynganeddion croes (without a single cynghanedd groes o gyswllt), and the other quarter cynganeddion sain.