Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

1. Canu i Gadfan

edited by Ann Parry Owen


This poem was edited by Professor Catherine McKenna in the Poets of the Princes Series (GLlF poem 1) and was later discussed by Dr Nerys Ann Jones and Dr Morfydd E. Owen in an article placing the three poems composed by Poets of the Princes in praise of saints in their political and historical context in the twelfth century (Jones and Owen 2003: 45–76). Dr Jones published further articles, the first casting new light on this poem (Jones 2004: 9–31) and the second discussing the identity of the poet (Jones 2006: 1–12). I have drawn upon these works for the background note to this new edition.

Llywelyn Fardd
It is generally assumed that the author of Canu i Gadfan was the first of two or possibly three poets from the Age of the Princes who bore the name Llywelyn Fardd. He is often referred to as ‘Llywelyn Fardd I’, to differentiate between him and the other two; however for the purpose of this edition, he will simply be ‘Llywelyn Fardd’. He was probably a poet from Gwynedd, who began his career as a soldier and poet in the court of Owain Gwynedd. He seems to have left Gwynedd because of a dispute between him and Owain, and to have established himself, probably in the early 1150s, as a poet in the court of Madog ap Maredudd in Powys. No poems survive by him from this period he spent in Powys. When Madog died in 1160, Llywelyn Fardd returned to Gwynedd, and sang a rather unusual poem of praise for Owain Gwynedd in which he attempts to re-establish the poet-patron relationship they had enjoyed in the past (see GLlF poem 2, especially lines 35–8; Jones 2006: 5–6).

The historical context
Canu i Gadfan is likely to have been composed shortly after 1147, and therefore belongs to the period before Llywelyn Fardd left Gwynedd for Powys. There is an entry under the year 1147 in the Chronicles of the Princes which recounts how Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd and his brother Cynan led an attack against their uncle, Cadwaladr ap Gruffudd ap Cynan, lord of Meirionnydd, and how Abbot Morfran attempted, unsuccessfully, to defend Castell Cynfael, near Tywyn, on behalf of Cadwaladr (see CTC 256; GLlF 9; Jones and Owen 2003: 57–8 and further on the castle, see King and Kenyon 2001: 411–12). Hywel led his attack from Ceredigion: this is likely to be the attack by men ‘from Deheubarth’ referred to in line 136, Arfau o Ddehau, barau beri. As a consequence, Cadwaladr was forced to leave Meirionnydd and Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd became lord in his place (see Jones 2006: 5; contrast Jones and Owen 2003: 57 where it is suggested that it was his brother Cynan who became lord of Meirionnydd). As he had allied himself so closely with Cadwaladr against Hywel, Abbot Morfran is likely to have found himself in a rather uncomfortable position under the new lord and, as suggested in Jones 2006: 5, he probably realized that the situation called for an element of diplomacy on his behalf. Thus, it is suggested, ibid., that Canu i Gadfan was commissioned by Morfran shortly after the 1147 attack, in order to calm the waters between him and the new lord: ‘what better than to commission a famous poet to compose a poem to be sung in front of Hywel ab Owain to remind the new lord of the church’s pre-eminence and the authority of its patron saint’? (my translation). The poem, therefore, is likely to be the earliest of the three poems to saints that have survived from the twelfth century.

Canu i Gadfan
Attracting pilgrims with their donations, as well as legacies from wealthy princes and uchelwyr, was crucial to the success of a church in the twelfth century. Of course, donors hoped that their gifts would please the saint who would then care for them, by promoting their health and success on earth, and ensuring an easy path to heaven after death. It was crucial, therefore, that the significance of the saint, Cadfan in this case, was well advertised, both as a servant or representative of God on earth and an effective advocate for the souls of his people on the Day of Judgement. The descriptions of the miracles that were performed during his lifetime, and were still being performed in the present day through the relics that were housed in his church, were all proof of the saint’s special relationship with God. And as Cadfan in the sixth century was God’s representative or servant on earth, so Abbot Morfran in the twelfth century, as head of Cadfan’s church, continued the saint’s work by defending those who lived within his sanctuary or those who shared their wealth with the church. Indeed, at times it is difficult to decide whether the poet is referring to God, to Cadfan, to Morfran or even to a secular lord (probably Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd) – and the ambiguity is probably entirely intentional.

If there was ever a written copy of Cadfan’s Life, it has not survived, and the traditions regarding him are relatively scant. However, we do get the impression, from the genealogical texts in particular, that Cadfan was a much more important and influential saint than the meagre testimony about him suggests.

According to the genealogies, Cadfan was of noble descent and came to Wales from Llydaw (Brittany) in a company of saints.His lineage is preserved in ‘Bonedd y Saint’: Catuan sant … m. Eneas ledewic o Lydaw, a Gwenn teirbron merch Emyr Llydaw y vam ‘St Cadfan … son of Eneas Llydewig from Llydaw, and Gwen Teirbron daughter of Emyr Llydaw his mother’ (EWGT 57). The genealogies further claim (ibid. 57–8) that his co-travellers, Padarn, Tydecho, Trunio and Maelrhys, were his cousins, all being grandsons of Emyr Llydaw (cf. l. 45 and see n5(e)). Llywelyn Fardd claims that Lleudad was also Cadfan’s cousin (see. n61(e)), and although the genealogies do not corroborate this, it is quite possible that Llywelyn Fardd was acquainted with such a tradition.

Cadfan’s importance as leader is confirmed in the Latin Vita of Padarn (dated c.1120 in VSB xii–xiii, but Russell 2012: 12–13 shows that it may date from as early as the 1030s), where the text describes a company of saints travelling from Brittany (Letavia) to Britain under Cadfan’s leadership, including Keintlau (?Cynllo), Tydecho and the young Padarn (VSB 254–5). Other saints believed to have travelled with them are also named in the genealogies, most of them associated in some way with Bardsey Island (e.g. EWGT 57, 68). The evidence for Cadfan and his cousins in Brittany is rather scant (see Jones and Owen 2003: 48), and this led P.C. Bartrum, amongst others, to suggest that the Llydaw of the genealogies was to be located in Britain: ‘There seems to be little doubt that Cadfan and all his company really came from a forgotten place in Britain called Llydaw, not the better known Llydaw, that is, Brittany’ (WCD s.n. Cadfan ab Eneas Ledewig, also TysilioCBM l. 151n). Whatever the truth may be, it is likely that by the twelfth century this Llydaw was believed to be the country, Brittany.

Cadfan is associated with three main churches: Tywyn (the old mother church of Ystumanner), Bardsey (Enlli) and Llangadfan in Caereinion. There does not seem to be any mention of Llangadfan in Llywelyn Fardd’s poem. The main focus here is the church of Tywyn, which the poet claims God had created for Cadfan (‘God fashioned for him an excellent dwelling-place’) when he arrived from Brittany (see ll. 37–8). He also refers to Cadfan’s authority on Bardsey (ll. 137–8), praising the way he had defended the island along with Lleudad:

Arwyn ei drwydded cyn no’i drengi – ydoedd

Yn cadw rhag cyhoedd anlloedd Enlli.

Un llogawd ysydd herwydd heli,

Lleudad a Chadfan yn ei chedwi. (ll. 137–40)

He was a man of splendid hospitality before his death,

defending the riches of Bardsey from the common people.

There is a church over the sea

which Lleudad and Cadfan keep safe.

Cadfan is remembered as Bardsey’s first abbot, and according to tradition he appointed Lleudad as his successor; this tradition is reflected in Lewys Glyn Cothi’s poem to Llawddog (a poem which shows that Lewys believed that Llawddog and Lleuddad were one and the same): Cadfan a’i gwnaeth yn sianawn / I Awstin … ‘Cadfan made him a canon / of Augustine …’, LlawddogLGC ll. 35–6. However, Llywelyn Fardd seems to suggest (ll. 139–40) that Cadfan and Lleudad were contemporary leaders on Bardsey. It may be that Cadfan and Lleudad never did work together on Bardsey or in Tywyn, and that perhaps Lleudad’s main rôle in the poem was to be an ideal companion for Cadfan, their relationship providing an example for the contemporary leaders in Tywyn church of how a good working relationship should be (cf. Jones 2006: 17).

Throughout the poem Cadfan is praised for his military skills, seeming to confirm the later tradition that he was considered to be a patron saint of soldiers: ‘The saint is commonly regarded as the patron of warriors, from which we may suppose that he led a military life before he left Armorica’, LBS ii, 5–6. It is quite possible that these traditions developed because of the element Cad- (= ‘battle’) in his name and that Llywelyn Fardd promoted the idea by playing on this element in the poem: he calls him Cadfan, cedwyr nodded ‘Cadfan, the protection of warriors’ (l. 8), and in lines 9–14, we see that not only is cad a noun meaning ‘battle’ but that it also calls to mind the verb cadw ‘to defend, to guard’.

It must be remembered, however, that Cynddelw portrayed St Tysilio, who was also of princely birth, as a protector of warriors. Indeed, Cynddelw devoted a whole section (caniad) of his poem to describe Tysilio’s role as a successful military leader at the historical battle of Maes Cogwy (Maserfelth) c.642, thus proving that he was more than competent to defend the soldiers of twelfth-century Powys. As regards Cadfan, it is difficult to judge whether he was considered a particular patron saint of warriors in the twelfth century, more so than any other saint who had been a soldier before his conversion. It is noticeable that the same interest in warfare is not claimed for St David by Gwynfardd Brycheiniog, probably because St David had not been a soldier himself. However it is also possible that the emphasis on Tysilio and Cadfan’s military interests reflect the interests of the two court poets, Llywelyn Fardd and Cynddelw; Gwynfardd Brycheiniog, on the other hand, seems to have been principally attached to a religious court.

Relics and miracles are prominent aspects of the saints’ Lives. Llywelyn Fardd refers to two of Cadfan’s miracles: the first when he carried fire in his clothing without burning them (see n57(e)) and the second when he rid his country of the plague and other evils during the rule of a certain (unknown) chieftain called Gwynnyr:

Ef gorau gwyrthau wrth Ei gennad:

Dillwng tân yman ymywn dillad;

Ef a warawd ball a gwall a gwad,

Bendigaw Gwynnyr a’i wŷr a’i wlad. (ll. 109–12)

He performed miracles with His consent:

dropping fire here into his clothing;

he got rid of pestilence, of failure and of denial,

conferring a blessing upon Gwynnyr, his men and his country.

Llywelyn Fardd seems to make no mention of the image of Cadfan upon which Dafydd ap Gwilym swore an oath ( 140.23n Myn delw Gadfan ‘By the image of Cadfan’) and which has been associated with an image of the saint that was recorded in the church in a survey of 1535 (LBS ii, 7–8). However, he does refer to the church’s famous relics (l. 81 Ei chreiriau banglau ban glywhitor ‘Its renowned relics are heard of clearly’), drawing specific attention to a Book of Gospels (n30(e)); and to Cadfan’s crosier that was renowned for constantly performing new miracles, and for its ability to promote peace between enemies (see n31(e)):

Uchelwlad Gadfan myn yd gydfydd

Breswyl Efengyl ufyl ofydd

A’r fagl ferth werthfawr wyrthau newydd

A ludd i’r gelyn ladd ei gilydd. (ll. 49–52)

the majestic country of Cadfan where together reside

the humble lord’s Gospel Book which is ready to hand

and the beautiful precious staff of the ever new miracles

that prevents enemies from killing each another.

Henri Perri records an oath on this crozier at the end of the sixteenth century (Perri 1595: 24 myn bacul Gadbhan ‘by Cadfan’s crozier’) but no other reference has been found in the poetry. Llywelyn Fardd may also refer in the poem to a rood within the church (but see n38(e)).

The references to Cadfan in poetry are few. He is sometimes named in a list of saints (e.g. GIG XXX.61; GLGC 7.49; DN XVII.45); in some instances because of local relevance (e.g. GDLl 35.66); and in others the reason for his naming is not at all obvious (e.g. GLGC 86.49, where the poet asks for Cadfan’s protection for Siân of Cardigan). When Dafydd ap Gwilym invoked Cadfan in his poem ‘The girl’s beauty defiled’, he might have had Cadfan’s well at Tywyn in mind, as it was famous for its health-promoting qualities, and in particular for its ability to cure skin ailments ( 115.45 and see further LBS ii, 6). Nevertheless, Lewys Glyn Cothi has two references that might reflect Cadfan’s association with warriors: the first in a praise poem to Rhisiart Twberfil (GLGC 105.55–6) and the second in a poem addressed to Dafydd Llwyd ap Gruffudd requesting a bow, in which he refers to the donor as mab Cadfan Abertanad ‘the son of Cadfan at Abertanad’, GLGC 211.59 (although this could refer to Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd, conqueror of Northumbria).

Soon after 1147. See above.

Previous editions
HG Cref poem XXXIV; CTC 1–2, 256–7; GLlF poem 1.

Summary of the poem
Caniad I (1–36)
The poem opens with a prayer to God for inspiration to praise Cadfan (1–8). The poet describes how the saint offers excellent protection for his people, and names his parents, Eneas and Gwen (9–14). Llywelyn Fardd again asks God for assistance so that he can present his song in the church that is located near the sea and is completely safe and secure (15–22). Its three altars are described (23–8) and its beauty is praised, mentioning in particular its limewashed walls that sparkle in the landscape, and it is compared with that of St David (29–36).

Caniad II (37–66)
The poet mentions Cadfan’s arrival from Brittany to the church that God had created for him (37–8). He describes the blessings enjoyed by the people as a result of Cadfan’s coming and mentions the saint’s fondness for the church’s actual location (39–46). He refers specifically to the poem he presents to Meirionnydd and its saint, Cadfan (47–8), referring also to the valuable relics housed in the church, namely the saint’s Gospel Book and his crozier which had the ability to bring about peace between enemies (49–54). The present abbot is praised as a wonderful defender and generous giver (55–60) and this section ends with praise to the church’s two priests who defend the church – Abbot Morfran and another contemporary priest? – again drawing attention to the church’s location in the landscape.

Caniad III (67–86)
Llywelyn Fardd praises the welcome for his poem in the church located in a prominent site above sea level (67–70). The church is described as being completely secure and no one dares violate it whilst Cadfan defends it (71–80). The section ends with a reference to the church’s important relics, miracles, music, leaders and its marble stones, and once again its beautiful location between the wooded hills and the sea is described (81–6).

Caniad IV (87–122)
Llywelyn Fardd refers to the gift of a new poem he has for his lord, and to the gifts of excellent horses he himself has received from his lord in the past (87–90). As it is fitting for him to praise Jesus, so it is fitting for him to praise Cadfan, since it is the poet’s duty to praise a generous lord who defends his people well (91–4). The church in Meirionnydd is again praised, for its services and its music, as well as its location by the sea (95–9). Its prosperity is described, the fertility of its lands, the richness of its feasts and the gifts it receives from its visitors (100–6). God was full of joy when generous Cadfan was born (107–8) and reference is made to two of the saint’s miracles – the first when he carried fire in his clothing and the second when he rid his land of pestilence (109–12). The way he behaved like a wise man in his infancy was also a wonder, as was also the fact that he chose the life of a saint over his patrimony (113–14). The section ends with praise to Cadfan and his cousin Lleudad (115–22).

Caniad V (123–62)
Cadfan’s defence of the church beside the sea at Tywyn was formidable (123–4) and Llywelyn Fardd refers to the heavenly nature of life within its walls and its prominent location by the sea (123–6). Its generosity is praised, as well as its general excellence and success (127–30). The poet refers to his journey there along the valley of the Dyfi beyond Snowdonia, and the dangers faced by attacks from the South (131–6). Cadfan’s relationship with Bardsey Island is mentioned, and how he and Lleudad guarded the island’s popular church (137–42). He continues to praise the church of Meirionnydd, mentioning again aspects of its beauty, its welcoming of poets and their poetry, its feasts, its notable services and the general goodness of its people and beauty of its location near the river’s estuary (143–62).

Caniad VI (163–78)
In the opening lines of this final section, Llywelyn Fardd identifies with the poets who bring their poem to Cadfan (163–4) and praises the good men of Meirionnydd who guard his church and are generous towards the poets (165–8). Once again the church’s location is described as being near the sea’s tide and the sound of its breaking waves (169–70). Then follows a series of lines praising Cadfan: whilst he is seated on his throne in heaven, an excellent lord over his people, then Llywelyn Fardd’s poetry will be cherished in his church (175–7). The poem ends with a plea for God to safeguard Cadfan’s dominion (178).

Metre and cynghanedd
Two main metres are used throughout the poem, namely cyhydedd naw ban and toddaid, and there is one instance of cyhydedd hir instead of toddaid (see below). The metres correspond to John Morris-Jones’s description in CD 337–40. Almost all the lines of cyhydedd naw ban and the second lines of toddaid divide into 5:4 syllables; and the first lines of toddaid mostly divide into 5:5 or 5:6 syllables. If a line is too long, then the extra syllables are invariably found in the second half of the line, and the correct line length can often be restored by contraction. Attention is drawn in the notes to lines that cannot easily be restored to their standard lengths.

Llywelyn Fardd has some kind of cynghanedd in every line in his poem: there is either consonance, especially between two words in the middle of a line (cynghanedd braidd gyffwrdd); internal rhyme, sometimes forming cynghanedd lusg; or a combination of consonance and rhyme (usually forming a kind of cynghanedd sain). Where the cynghanedd is based on alliteration, the first word in the correspondence falls regularly at the end of the first half of the line (ending on the fifth syllable), and the word that alliterates with it either follows immediately at the beginning of the second half of the line (e.g. l. 42 Bendigedig fro | fraint gynhewydd) or is placed at the end of the line, forming a line of cynghanedd draws wreiddgoll (e.g. l. 48 Uchelfardd a’i pryd | fegys prydydd). Some patterns of correspondence are different from those described by John Morris-Jones in Cerdd Dafod (CD), e.g. in line 176 Yn ben ban llefair, yn bair eirian, there is internal rhyme, a llusg rhyme and consonance, and in line 34 Eglwys wen wyngalch falch wynhäed, there is cynghanedd sain dro, where the three parts of the cynghanedd sain are placed in a different order from that found in the later poetry of the Cywyddwyr (Andrews 2003: 151–7). Attention is drawn in the notes to any lines where considerations regarding the cynghanedd affect the reading or meaning.

Caniad I (ll. 1–36): 36 lines on the end-rhyme -ed; cyhydedd nawban (1–2, 5–6, 9–10, 13–14, 17–18, 21–2, 25–6, 29–30, 33–4), toddaid (3–4, 7–8, 15–16, 19–20, 23–4, 27–8, 31–2, 35–6) and cyhydedd hir (11–12). There is a link (cyrch-gymeriad) between the end of this caniad and the beginning of the next (lunhied. / Lluniwys).

Caniad II (ll. 37–66): 30 lines on the end-rhyme -ydd; toddaid (37–8, 45–6, 61–2, 65–6), cyhydedd nawban (39–44, 47–60, 63–4). The end of the caniad and the beginning of the next are linked by rhyme (ac arfor a gorfynydd. / Mor elw).

Caniad III (ll. 67–86): 20 lines on the end-rhyme -or; toddaid (67–8, 71–2, 75–6, 79–80, 83–4), cyhydedd nawban (69–70, 73–4, 77–8, 81–2, 85–6). The end of the caniad and the beginning of the next are linked by rhyme (harfor . / Mor iawn).

Caniad IV (ll. 87–122): 36 lines on the end-rhyme -ad; toddaid (87–8, 91–2, 95–6, 99–100, 103–4, 107–8, 113–16, 119–20), cyhydedd nawban (89–90, 93–4, 97–8, 101–2, 105–6, 109–112, 117–18, 121–2). The end of this caniad and the beginning of the next are linked by the repetition of Cadfan and a form of the verb cadw (Cadfan i gadw llan … / Cadr y ceidw Cadfan).

Caniad V (ll. 123–62): 40 lines on the end-rhyme -i; cyhydedd nawban (123–4, 127–8, 131–2, 135–6, 139–40, 143–4, 147–8, 151–6, 159–60), toddaid (125–6, 129–30, 133–4, 137–8, 141–2, 145–6, 149–50, 157–8, 161–2). The end of the caniad and the beginning of the next are linked (weini. / Gweinifiad).

Caniad VI (ll. 163–78): 16 lines on the end-rhyme -an; cyhydedd nawban (163–4, 167–8, 173–4, 177–8), toddaid (165–6, 169–72, 175–6). The end of the caniad is linked with the beginning of the poem by repeating the word Duw.

Note on the translation
The translation offered is fairly literal; however, at times precedence has been given to translating the overall sense of a sentence, rather that adhering to the individual words and their order in the text. A more literal Welsh paraphrase is offered in GLlF.