Introduction Edited text Manuscripts Cymraeg

2. Canu Tysilio

edited by Ann Parry Owen


The earliest complete text of this poem is preserved in the Red Book of Hergest, J 111, copied by Hywel Fychan, 1382×1405. An earlier, but now incomplete, text (ll. 101–242) is found in the Hendregadredd Manuscript, LlGC 6680B, in hand alpha, the main hand and creator of the manuscript, probably a scribe working c.1300 in the scriptorium at Strata Florida (see RepWM). Only a thin strip of folio 32 has survived and the ink has worn badly on parts of folio 33. The poetry of Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr was copied into five quires in the manuscript, and in the sixteenth century, in the time of Wiliam Llŷn, these quires were located at the beginning of the manuscript, probably reflecting their original place, see Jones 2003: 84. The first quire, which contained the religious poetry of Cynddelw, including the first hundred lines of Canu Tysilio, has now been lost (ibid. 86, 120). There is no later copy of the Hendregadredd Manuscript version of the poem.

We can be confident that the texts of the poem in LlGC 6680B and J 111 both derive ultimately from a common exemplar, see Jones 2003: 111–12. There are a few faulty readings that are common to both versions, which suggests that the source was not without error, cf. n61(t) (olud) and possibly n58(t) (thraethadurion). Where they differ, LlGC 6680B nearly always has the better reading (e.g. l. 206 where a word was omitted in J 111), and it is likely that the text had deteriorated in the century between them.

In 1634 John Davies of Mallwyd copied Canu Tysilio into his LlGC 4973B, a manuscript containing, among other material, poems by the Poets of the Princes that he collected from various sources. He modernized the orthography as he copied the texts. Canu Tysilio is found in a small block of poems which he seems to have copied from the now lost pages of Pen 118, a manuscript in the hand of Siôn Dafydd Rhys, see Jones 2003: 114 who follows Rowland 1983–4: 84–5. At the top of his copy of Canu Tysilio John Davies wrote Exr p’ Ll. C., informing us that he had compared his text with that of the Red Book, therefore confirming that the Red Book was not his source, see Rowland 1983–4: 83. Siôn Dafydd Rhys also modernized the orthography as he copied texts.

In Pen 102 there is another copy of the poem dating from the first half of the seventeenth century, copied by Robert Vaughan, along with four other poems by the Poets of the Princes, see Jones 2003: 113–14. This copy is very close to the text in the Red Book, often following the same orthographical practices. Vaughan’s copy cannot derive, therefore, from either Pen 118 or LlGC 4973B, because their texts has modernized orthography. On the basis of certain differences between their readings, Jones 2003: 113 concludes that a few readings in Pen 102 that seem to be better than those of the Red Book suggest that Robert Vaughan may have been copying from the Red Book’s source, rather than from the Red Book itself. However, if we confine our attention to Canu Tysilio, the evidence seems to suggest that the Pen 102 text derives directly from the Red Book.

In the Red Book, column 1165.33 (l. 33 in the edition), the left minim of the n in Dynyaỽl is partly hidden by an ink line that runs to the bottom of the page, causing the n to look similar to a rounded-a (not Hywel Fychan’s usual two-compartment a as found later in the same word). See image. Pen 102 has dyayawl, whichis meaningless, and more or less proves that it was the Red Book that Robert Vaughan had in front of him.

LlGC 4973B has Daearawl here which presupposes that it was also the reading in Pen 118. Is this reading an attempt by Siôn Dafydd Rhys to make sense of the meaningless dyayawl in his source? He tended to emend readings he believed to be faulty, and it is likely that he realized that dyayawl was not correct as it stood. As an experienced copyist, it is unlikely that he would have been led astray by the fault on the page in the Red Book, therefore it is likely that Pen 102 was his source.

There is another unclear reading in the Red Book which could cast light on the relationship between these manuscripts. The o of aruolyaeth, J 111, 1165.26 (l. 18 of the edited text), does not seem to have been fully formed and it could be read as an e (see image, and contrast the o in orned in the following line). As a result LlGC 4973B (Pen 118) and Pen 102 give the meaningless form arfeliaeth / arvelyaeth here, suggesting again that Pen 102 was the likely source for LlGC 4973B (Pen 118).

Crucially, in line 38 (J 111, 1165.41), cadỽ seems to have been misread by Robert Vaughan as cawdd in Pen 102 (once again there is an ink line through the word in J 111). We can assume that Siôn Dafydd Rhys, in his lost copy in Pen 118, followed Pen 102 and read cawdd (which, of course, is a genuine word, but does not make much sense here). When copying the text from Pen 118 into LlGC 4973B, John Davies followed and wrote cawdd. However, when he later compared his text with that of the Red Book itself, he realized that the reading was faulty, and emended it: LlGC 4973B cadwdd .

As regards this poem, the evidence suggests therefore that the source for the copy in LlGC 4973B (Pen 118) was Pen 102, and not the Red Book or any other source.

Sometimes LlGC 4973B offers readings that are certainly better than those of the Red Book; however, rather than taking these to be evidence of the independence of LlGC 4973B (or of Pen 118) on the Red Book text, they are more likely to be evidence of John Davies’s scholarship (or that of Siôn Dafydd Rhys). For example J 111 ragoruam rat ram is evidently not correct (l. 12). It was copied more or less as it is into Pen 102 ragor fam rac ram; but LlGC 4973B has ragorfan rhag rhan, with the more experienced copyist (either John Davies or Siôn Dafydd Rhys) having realized that the Red Book reading was the result of miscounting minims and confusing t and c, two common errors. Attention is drawn to further such examples in the textual notes. No readings in LlGC 4973B or Pen 102 seem to be independent of the Red Book copy, and the fact that both manuscripts give the Red Book’s faulty version of line 120 where the words ym mhlaid have been omitted, rendering the line two syllables short (whereas it is correct in LlGC 6680B), are further proof that their copy of the poem derives ultimately from the Red Book itself.

All the later copies of this poem derive from the manuscripts that have already been discussed (see stemma), and have not, therefore, been used for this edition.

J 111 C tyssilyaw yỽ hwnn. Kyndelỽ ae cant.

List of manuscripts
LlGC 6680B ‘Hendregadredd Manuscript’, 32r–33v (alpha, c.1300)
J 111 ‘The Red Book of Hergest’, col. 1165–9 (Hywel Fychan, 1382×1405)
Pen 102, 26–32 (Robert Vaughan, first half of 17c.)
Pen 118, 55–62 (Siôn Dafydd Rhys, c.1580–1610)
LlGC 4973B, 155v–160r (John Davies, Mallwyd, 1634)
Card 1.133, 163–74 (Iago ap Dewi, c.1701–22)
Llst 15, 136–41, 153 (Samuel Williams, early 18c.)
Llst 145, 66–7 (Moses Williams, early 18c.)
Llst 133, ff. 277r–278r, no. 820 (Samuel Williams, early 18c.)
LlGC 1984B [= Panton 15], ff. 239r–246v (Evan Evans, 1757)
Pen 201, 35–45 (Richard Thomas, c.1766)
BL Add 15001, 105v–109v (John Walters, before 1792)
Card 4.140, 425–33 (Edward Davies, 1792)
LlGC 13175A, 1–12 (William Owen [-Pughe], 18c./19c.)
BL 14970, 267r-272r (Iolo Morganwg, 1800)