Dialogue of Melwas and Gwenhwyfar

Ymddiddan Melwas a(c) Gwenhwyfar is a Medieval Welsh dialogue poem set during a royal feast at which Gwenhwyfar taunts and converses with a stranger, who identifies himself as Melwas of an Otherworldly island (Isle of Glass). The narrative background to the poem is thought to be a tale of Arthur’s expedition to the Otherworld, in which he rescues Gwenhwyfar from an enchanted prison presided over by Melwas. Extant copies of the poem are late, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and show a degree of textual corruption, but scholars have argued for an older core, possibly going back to the mid-12th century.

The Dialogue of Melwas and Gwenhyfer (Version 1)

Melwas
Black is my steed and brave beneath me
No water will make him fear
And no man will make him swerve

Gwenhyfar
Green is my steed of the tint of leaves
No disgrace like his who boasts and fails:
He is no man who fulfills not his word

Gwenhyfar
………………………………….
………………in the forefront of the fray
No man holds out but Kei the tall, son of Sevin

Melwas
It is I that will ride and will stand,
And walk heavily on the brink of the ebb:
I am the man to hold out against Kei.

Gwenhyfar
Pshaw, young man, it is strange to hear thee!
Unless thou be other than thou lookest
Thou wouldst not, on of a hundred, hold against Kei

Melwas
Gwenhwyvar of the bright face
Do not insult me small though I be:
I would hold against a hundred myself

Gwenhyfar
Pshaw, young man of black & yellow!
After scanning long thy looks
Methought I had seen thee before

Melwas
Gwenhwyvar of the ……… face
Tell me if you know it
Where you saw me before

Gwenhyfar
I have seen a man of moderate size
At Arthur’s long table in Devon
Dealing out wine to his friends

Melwas
Gwenhwyvar of facetious speech
It is woman’s nature to banter:
There it is thou didst me see

The Dialogue of Melwas and Gwenhyfer (Version 2)

Cei:
Who is the man who sits in the common part of the feast,
Without for him either its beginning or its end,
Seated down there below the hall?

Melwas:
Melwas from the Isle of Glass
Thou with the golden, gilded caskets [of wine]
I have drunk non of thy wine.

Cei:
Wait a little ??
I do not pour out my wine
For a man who cannot bide, cannot hold out in the fray.

Gwenhyfer:
… [lines missing]
… [“]
He would not stand up to Cei in his wine.

Melwas:
I would wade a ford
Even if it were a fathom deep
With a coat of mail (on the shore) of the ebb tide
I am the man who wold stand up to Cei.

Gwenhyfer:
Silence, lad, silence to thy idle talk
If thou (art) not better than thy apperance
Thou wouldst not stand up to Cei, if thou wert one of eight.

Melwas:
Gwenhyfer of the deer’s glance
Do not despise me although I am young
I ouwld stand up to Cei alone.

Gwenhyfer:
Though lad (?) above a number
With thy head red like lungs
Thou art unlike Cei in size.

Melwas:
It is a drunken man’s nature to be weak
We will therefore keep to what is right (?)
I am Melwas, let us leave it at that.

Cei:
Since you have begun
Go on with your conversation
A lad knows who fondles him.

Gwenhyfer:
Where before have you seen me?

Melwas:
In a court of honor and privilege
Drinking wine to (?with) his companions
??? in the land of Dyfneint.2

I hate the smile of an old gray-haired man
With his sword like a skewer beneath his chin
Who desires but cannot achieve.

Cei:
Still more hateful to me
A proud man, timid except in words
Who will not be silent nor draw his sword.

Melwas:
Take that!

Cei:
You take that!

Ymddiddan rhwng Arthur a Gwenhwyfar (Version 1)

1. Dv yw fy march ada dana
ag er dwr nid arswyda
a rhag vngwr ni chilia.

2. Glas yw fy march o liw y dail
liwyr ddirmygid . . . . . . . .
nid gwr ond a gywiro el air.

3. . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . ymlaen y drin
nid deli gwr ond Cae Hir ap Sefin.

4. Myfi a ferchyg ag a sai
ag a gerdda yn drwm gan lan trai
myfi yw’r gwr a ddaiia Gai.

5. Dyd was, rhyfedd yw dy glowed
onid wyd amgen noth weled
ni ddalid Gai ar dy ganfed.

6. Gwenhwyfar olwg Eirian [427]
na ddifrawd fi cyd bwy bychan
mi a ddaliwn gant fy hvnan.

7. Dyd was o ddv a melyn
wrth hir edrych dy dremyn
tybiais dy weled cyn hyn.

8. Gwenhwyfar olwg wrthroch
doedwch i mi os gwyddoch
ymha le cyn hyn im gwelsoch.

9. Mi welais wr graddol o faint
ar fwrdd hir. . . dyfnaint
yn rhannv gwin iw geraint.

10. Gwenhwyfar barabl digri
cnawd o ben gwraig air gwegi
yno y gwelaist di fi.

Ymddiddan rhwng Arthur a Gwenhwyfar (Version 2)

Pa eistedd gwr yn gyffredinrwydd gwledd 
eb eiddaw nai dechreu nai diwedd 
eiste obry islaw’r cyntedd.

Y Melwas o ynys wydrin 
di aur vlyche goreurin
ni lewais i ddim oth win.

Aro ychydsc snevin 
ni wallaf vi vyngwin
ar wr ni ado ag ni safai mewn trin 
ni ddaliai Gai yn i vn.

Ni arveisiwn ryd 
ag a vo gemyn a gwryd 
a lluric drom drai
ms yw’r gwr a ddaliai Gai.

Taw was taw a’th salwet 
onit well oath welet
ni ddalut Gai ar d’wvthvet.

Gwenhwyvar olwg hyddgan 
na’m dirmic cyd bwy bychan 
mi ddaliwn Gai vyhvnan.

Tydi was ar ben maint 
ai ben coch val ysgyvaint 
anhebic i Gai wyt o vaint.

Gnawd i veddw gwecry 
jawn a gadwn velly
mi ywr Melwas gadwn ar hyny.

Canys dechrefiasoch 
ymddiddenwch rhagoch
ef a edwyn mah ai lloch.

Ymhle gynt yr ymdelsawch 
mewn llys vrddasol i braint 
yn yvet gwin o Geraint 
lle dwir gwir ar dir Dyfnaint.

Cas gennyf wên gwrllwyd hen 
ai gledde n waell dan i en 
a chwenych eb allel amgen.

Casach genyf ine 
gwr balch llwrf ond geirie 
ni thaw ni thyn i gledde 
hwde di hwde dithe.