The Dialogue of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir

The Dialogue of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir, found in the Black Book of Carmarthen XXXIII.
In this narrative—Gwyn, returning from battle, chances upon Gwyddno Garanhir, king of Cantre’r Gwaelod, and grants him his protection. Gwyn then relates his exploits on the battlefield and his role as a psychopomp, a mysterious figure who gathers the souls of fallen British warriors, such as Bran the Blessed, Meurig ap Carreian, Gwendoleu ap Ceidaw and Llacheu ab Arthur. His skill in combat is extolled in this poem; he is described as “the hope of armies” and “hero of hosts” and, when asked from which region he comes, he simply replies: “I come from battle and conflict.”

One characteristic of these conversation poems is the initial balanced dialogue between two parties, as seen at the beginning of this particular poem. However, it evolves into a monologue by Gwyn, punctuated by sporadic remarks from Gwyddno. Sometimes this poem has been divided in two. The second part containing Gwyn’ monologue called “Mi A Wum,” or, “I Have Been,” for the opening line of Gwyn’s speech.

A challenge arises due to the manuscript’s lack of speaker indicators; while it’s usually clear who’s speaking, there are a few instances where it becomes ambiguous.

The Dialogue of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir

Bull of conflict was he, active in dispersing an arrayed army,
The ruler of hosts, slow to anger,
Blameless and pure his conduct in protecting life.

Gwyn ap Nudd:
Against a hero stout was his advance, 
The ruler of hosts, disposer of wrath.
There will be protection for thee since thou askest it.

[At this point Gwyn ap Nudd has agreed to give Gwyddneu protection]

For thou hast given me protection;
How warmly wert thou welcomed!
The hero of hosts, from what region thou comest?

[Gwyn ap Nudd is asked which region is he from. Gwyn does not answer directly]

Gwyn ap Nudd:
I come from battle and conflict
With a shield in my hand;
Many is the broken helmet pierced by the spears.

I will address thee, exalted man, 
With his shield in distress;
Brave man, what is thy descent?

[Gwyddneu now asks about Gwyn ap Nudd’s family]

Gwyn ap Nudd:
Carngrwn [Round-hoofed] is my horse, the torment of battle, 
Fairy am I called, Gwyn the son of Nudd,
The lover of Creudilad, the daughter of Llud.

Since it is thou, Gwyn, an upright man, 
From thee there is no concealing; 
I also am Gwydneu Garanhir.

[Gwyn ap Nudd’s horse is becoming impatientand wants to return to Tawë in Annwfn]

Gwyn ap Nudd:
He will not leave me in a parley with thee, 
By the bridle, as is becoming;
But will hasten away to his home on the Tawë .

It is not the nearest Tawë I speak of to thee, 
But the furthest Tawë 
Eagle! I will cause the furious sea to ebb.

Polished is my ring, golden my saddle and bright
To my sadness
I saw a conflict before Caer Vandwy.

Before Caer Vandwy a host I saw, 
Shields were shattered and ribs broken
Renowned and splendid was he who made the assault.

Gwyn ab Nud, the hope of armies, 
Sooner would legions fall before the hoofs
Of thy horses, than broken rushes to the ground.

Handsome my dog and round-bodied, 
And truly the best of dogs; 
Dormach was he, which belonged to Maelgwn.

Dormach with the ruddy nose! what a gazer
Thou art upon me! because I notice
Thy wanderings on Gwibir Vynyd.

I have been in the place where was killed Gwendoleu, 
The son of Ceidaw, the pillar of songs, 
When the ravens screamed over blood.

I have been in the place where Bran was killed, 
The son of Gweryd, of far-extending fame, 
When the ravens of the battle-field screamed.

I have been where Llachau was slain,
The son of Arthur, extolled in songs,
When the ravens screamed over blood.

I have been where Meurig was killed, 
The son of Carreian, of hdnourable fame, 
When the ravens screamed over flesh.

I have been where Gwallawg was killed,
The son of Goholeth, the accomplished,
The resister of Lloegyr, the son of Lleynawg.

I have been where the soldiers of Prydain [Britain] were slain,
From the East to the North;
I am alive, they in their graves!

I have been where the soldiers of Prydain [Britain] were slain,
From the East to the South
I am alive, they in death!

Ymddiddan Gwyddno Garanhir a Gwyn ap Nudd

Tarv trin anvidin blaut.
Ar benic llu lid anhaut.
Dinam eiroes am oes naut.
Ygan gur gurt y kinnit.
Arbennic llv llid owit.
Athvit naut canyserchit.
Canis naut im arotit.
Mor verth y thogyuechit.
Guanur llv py dv pandoit.
ban deuaw o kad a chiminad
Maur ac aessaur in aghad.
Briuint penaur peleidrad.
Ath kiuarchaw hv yscun
Gur. ae iscuid in aghen.
Pebir gur pan iv dyechen.
Caringrun wimarch kad trablunt.
Hud im gelwire guin mab nud.
Gorterch creurdilad merch lut.
Canisti guin gur kiwir.
Racod ny ryimgelir.
Minnev guitnev garanhir.
Nim gade gan kyulauaret
Athi. urthi fruin ydwet.
Dywris im trum tawuy anet.
Nid y tawue nessaw alawaraw
Urthid. nam vin y tawue eithaw.
Erir mor terruin treiaw.
Yscithreid vy mordruy eur kywruy
Cann. y gan wyauarvy.
Gueleis aer rac kaer wantvy.
Rac mantvy llv a weleis
Aessaur brihuid. torrhid eis.
Mygedaul. kein a dygei treis.
Gwin ab nut but. bitinaur.
Kint ysirthei kadoet rac carnetaur
Dy ueirch. no bruyn briw y laur.
Ystec vy ki ac istrun.
Ac yssew. orev or cvn.
Dormach oet hunnv afv y maelgun.
Dormach triunrut ba ssillit
Arnaw canissam giffredit.
Dy gruidir ar wibir winit.
Mi awum iny lle llas guendolev.
Mab keidav colowin kertev.
Ban ryerhint brein ar crev.
Mi awum in lle llas bran.
Mab ywerit clod lydan.
Mab ywerit clod lydan.
Ban ryerint brein garthan.
Mi awum lle llas llachev.
Mab arthur uithir ig kertev.
Ban ryreint brein ar crev.
Mi awum lle las meuric.
Mab karreian clod edmic.
Ban ryreeint brein ar cic.
Ny buum lle llas gwallauc
Mab goholheth teithiac.
Attwod lloegir mab lleynnac.
Mi awum lle llas milvir
Prydein. or duyrein ir goglet.
Mi. wi. wiw. vintev. y. bet.
Mi awum lle llas milguir
Bridein or duyrein ir dehev.
Mi. wi. wiv. vintev. y aghev.