The First Address of Taliesin

The Book of Taliesin I
The Red Book of Hergest XXIII
From The Four Ancient Books of Wales

A PRIMITIVE and ingenious address, when thoroughly elucidated.
Which was first, is it darkness, is it light?
Or Adam, when he existed, on what day was he created?
Or under the earth’s surface, what the foundation?
He who is a legionary will receive no instruction.
Est qui peccator 1 in many things,
Will lose the heavenly country, the community of priests.
In the morning no one comes
If they sing of three spheres.
Angles and Gallwydel,
Let them make their war.
Whence come night and day?
Whence will the eagle become gray?
Whence is it that night is dark?
Whence is it that the linnet is green?
The ebullition of the sea,
How is it not seen?
There are three fountains
In the mountain of roses,
There is a Caer of defence
Under the ocean’s wave.
Illusive greeter,
What is the porter’s name?
Who was confessor
To the gracious Son of Mary?
What was the most beneficial measure
Which Adam accomplished?
Who will measure Uffern? 2
How thick its veil?
How wide its mouth?
What the size of its stones?
Or the tops of its whirling trees?
Who bends them so crooked?
Or what fumes may be
About their stems?
Is it Lleu and Gwydyon 3
That perform their arts?
Or do they know books
When they do?
Whence come night and flood?
How they disappear?
Whither flies night from day;
And how is it not seen?
Pater noster ambulo
Gentis tonans in adjuvando
Sibilem signum
Rogantes fortium. 4
Excellent in every way around the glens
The two skilful ones make inquiries
About Caer Oerindan Oerindydd 5
For the draught-horses of pector David.
They have enjoyment-they move about-
May they find me greatly expanding.
The Cymry will be lamenting
While their souls will be tried
Before a horde of ravagers.
The Cymry, chief wicked ones,
On account of the loss of holy wafers. 6
There will long be crying and wailing,
And gore will be conspicuous.
There came by sea
The wood-steeds 7 of the strand. The Angles in council
Shall see signs of
Exultation over Saxons.
The praises of the rulers
Will be celebrated in Sion 8.
Let the chief builders be
Against the fierce Ffichti, 9
The Morini Brython.
Their fate has been predicted;
And the reaping of heroes
About the river Severn.
The stealing is disguised of Ken and Masswy
Ffls amala, ffur, ffir, sel, 10
Thou wilt discern the Trinity beyond my age
I implore the Creator, hai
Huai 11, that the Gentile may vanish
From the Gospel Equally worthy
With the retinue of the wall
Cornu ameni dur. 12
I have been with skilful men,
With Matheu and Govannon,
With Eunydd and Elestron,
In company with Achwyson,
For a year in Caer Gofannon. 13
I am old. I am young. I am Gwion,
I am universal, I am possessed of penetrating wit.
Thou wilt remember thy old Brython I (And) the Gwyddyl 14, kiln distillers,
Intoxicating the drunkards.
I am a bard; I will not disclose secrets to slaves;
I am a guide: I am expert in contests.
If he would sow, he would plough; he would plough, he would not reap.
If a brother among brothers,
Didactic Bards with swelling breasts will arise
Who will meet around mead-vessels,
And sing wrong poetry
And seek rewards that will not be,
Without law, without regulation, without gifts.
And afterwards will become angry.
There will be commotions and turbulent times,
Seek no peace-it will not accrue to thee.
The Ruler of Heaven knows thy prayer.
From his ardent wrath thy praise has propitiated him
The Sovereign King of Glory addresses me with wisdom
Hast thou seen the dominus fortis?
Knowest thou the profound prediction domini?
To the advantage of Uffern
Hic nemo in por progenie 15
He has liberated its tumultuous multitude.
Dominus virtutum 16
Has gathered together those that were in slavery,
And before I existed He had perceived me. 17
May I be ardently devoted to God!
And before I desire the end of existence,
And before the broken foam shall come upon my lips,
And before I become connected with wooden boards,
May there be festivals to my soul!
Book-learning scarcely tells me
Of severe afflictions after death-bed;
And such as have heard my bardic books
They shall obtain the region of heaven, the best of all abodes.

Prif Gyuarch Taliesin

Jes. MS 111 (Llyfr Coch Hergest)
col. 1054-1055

Prif gyuarch geluyd pan ryleat. pỽy kynt ae
tywyỻ ae goleuat. neuadaf pan vu padyd,
y creat. neu y dan tytwet. pyyr y seilyat. auo ỻeion
nys myn pỽyỻat. est qui peccator amniuereit. coỻ-
ant gỽlat nesỽy plỽyf offeireireit. boreuebindel. or-
ganont teirpel. eingyl gaỻwydel. gỽnaont eu ry-
uel. pandaỽ nos adyd. pan uyd ỻỽyd eryr pannyỽ
tywyỻ nos. pan yỽ gỽyrd ỻinos mor. pandyuerỽyd
cỽd anys gỽelyd. yssit teir ffynnaỽn. ymynyd sya-
wn. yssit gaer garthaỽn. adan donn eigaỽn,
Gorithgyuarchaỽr. pỽy enỽ y porthaỽr. pỽy vu
periglaỽr. y uab meir mỽynuaỽr, Pa uessur mỽy-
naf. aoruc adaf. pỽy vessur uffern. pỽy tewet yỻenn,
pỽy ỻet y geneu. pỽy meint enneinheu. neu ulaen
gỽyd ffaliỽm. Pỽ estỽng morgrỽm. neu pet anat-
uon. yssyd yn eubon. neuleu agỽydyon. a uuant
geluydyon. neu awdant lyfyryon, Pawnant pan-
daỽ nos aỻiant. pan vyd ydiuant. cỽd a nos rac-
dyd. pan daỽ naswelyd. Pater noster ambulo,
gentis tonans ī adiuuando, sibilem signum
rogantes fortium. amgỽiỽ gỽiỽ am gỽmyd. am-
geissant deu geluyd. am kaer kerindan kerindyd,
rytynneirch pector dauyd. ym wynant ys ewant
ym kaffỽynt yndirdan.kymry yggriduan. proua-
tor eneit. rac ỻỽyth eissyffleit. kymry prif diryeit,
rann rygoỻ bỽyeit, gỽaed hir ucheneit. asgỽyar
honneit. dydoent gỽarthuor. gỽydueirch dyaruor,
eingyl yghyhor. gwelattor arỽydon. gỽynyeith
ar saesson. claudus in syon. orỽyuannusson. bydh-
aỽt penn seiron. rac ffichit lewon. marini brython,
rydaroganon. amedi heon. am hafren auon. ỻa-
dyr ffadyr kenn amassỽy, ffis amala. ffur fiȝ. sel,
dyruedi trinet tramoed. creaỽdyr orohai. huai gentil
diffanai gospeỻ. codigni cota gosgord mur cornu
amandur. neubum gan wyr keluydon. gan uath
hen gan gouannon. gan euuyd gan elestron. ry
ganhymdeith achwysson. blỽydyn ygkaer gofannō,
ỽyf hen ỽyf newyd ỽyf gỽion. ỽyf ỻỽyr. ỽyf synnỽ-
yr keinyon, dygoui dyhen vrython. gỽydyl kyl di-
uerogyon medut medwon. ỽyf bard. ỽyf ny riuaf
y eiỻyon. ỽyf ỻyu. ỽyf syỽ amrysson. sihei. arahei
nys medy. si ffradyr yny ffradri. posberdein bronrein
adyui. adeuhont vỽch medlestri. aganhont gam
uardoni. ageissont gyfuarỽs nysdeubi. heb gyfreith



heb reith heb rodi. agỽedy hynny dygovi brithuyt,
abyt dyuysgi. nac eruyn dy hedỽch nyth vi. reen
nef rymaỽyr dywedi. rac y grefrym gỽares dy uoli,
Ri rex gl’e amgogyuarch yngeluyd. aweleisty
dn̄s fortis. darogan dỽfyn dn̄i. budyant uffern hic
nemo īpor progenie. ef diỻynghwys ytỽrỽf dn̄s
uirtutum. kaethnaỽt kynnhuỻỽys estis iste est
achynn buasswn asunsei. arnaf bỽyf derwin y
duỽ diheu. achynn mynnỽf deruyn creu. achyn̄
del ewynriỽ ar vynggeneu. achynn vynglkyuaỻe
ar ỻatheu preu. poet ymheneit ydakyfedeu. abreid
omdyweit ỻythyr ỻyfreu. kystud dygyn gỽedy gỽe-
ly agheu. arsaỽl agigleu vy mardlyfreu. ry bryn-
hỽynt wlat nef adef goreu,


Poetry from the Red Book of Hergest. ed. by J. Gwenogvryn Evans. Llanbedrog, 1911.

  1. Est qui peccator ↩︎
  2. Uffern: “Hell,” derived from the Latin inferno. ↩︎
  3. Lleu and Gwydyon: the main figures of the Mabinogi branch “Math vab Mathonwy.” Gwydion is a magician and bard, while his son Lleu is the skillful king who is betrayed by his flower-created wife. ↩︎
  4. ↩︎
  5. Caer Oerindan Oerindydd: this location is obscure ↩︎
  6. lost of holy wafers: is this an interpolated reference to the interdict of 1208? ↩︎
  7. wood-steeds: ships ↩︎
  8. Sion: Zion, Jerusalem. ↩︎
  9. Ffichti: Picts ↩︎
  10. Ffls amala, ffur, ffir, sel,: looks like nonsense ↩︎
  11. hai Huai: again, may be poetic nonsense. ↩︎
  12. Matheu… Caer Govannon: ↩︎
  13. ↩︎
  14. Gwyddyl: Irish, here said to be drunkards. ↩︎
  15. ↩︎
  16. Dominus virtutum: Virtuous Lord ↩︎
  17. see Jeremiah 1.5: “”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” ↩︎