The Celtic Literature Collective

The Hostile Confederacy
Book of Taliesin VII

A BARD there is here, who has not sung, what he shall have to sing;
Let him sing; when he shall have finished,
An astrologer then he may be.
The generous ones refuse me.
There will not be one that will give.
Through the language of Taliessin,
It was a bright day
When Kian did
Praise the multitude.
There will be a slaughter, let there be the speech of Avagddu.1
But if he ingeniously brings
The requisites forward,
Gwiawn will declare,
O the deep that will come!
He would make the dead alive,
And destitute of wealth he is.
They will not make their cauldrons,
That will boil without fire.
They will make their metals
In age of ages.
Thy pace that bears thee
From the deep of panegyric,
Is it not the hostile confederacy?
What its custom?
So much of national song
Your tongue has given.
Why will ye not recite an oration
Of blessing over the liquor of brightness?
The theme of every one’s rhapsody.
I shall be there according to custom,
He was a profound judge.
He came after his periodical custom,
The third of the equal judges.
Three score years
I have supported an earthly scene,
In the water of law and the multitude.
In the element of lands.
A hundred servants surrounded,
A hundred kings made vows.
A hundred they are that went,
A hundred they are that came.
A hundred minstrels sang,
And he foretold of them.
Lladdon, the daughter of the stream,
Little was her desire
For gold and silver,
Who is the living one that left her?
Blood on the breast;
He will probably be spoken of,
He will be greatly praised.
I am Taliesin,
I will delineate the true lineage
Continuing until the end,
In the pattern of Elphin.2
Is not the tribute
Of counted gold a debt?
When is hated and not loved,
Perjury and treason,
I desire not advantage,
Through the fluctuation of our song.
The brother that freely greets,
From me no one shall know.
The wise man of the primary science,
The astrologer reasoned,
About wrath, about the resolvent,
About the man describing .windings.
About men well versed in praise.
Let us proceed, God it is,
Through the language of Talhaearn,3
Baptism was the day of judgment,
That judged the characteristics
Of the force of poetry.
He and his virtue gave
Inspiration without mediocrity,
Seven score Ogyrven4
Are in the Awen.5
Eight score, of every score it will be one.
In the deep it will cease from ire;
In the deep it will be excessively angry;
In the deep, below the earth;
In the sky, above the earth.
There is one that knows
What sadness is,
Better than joy.
I know the law of the graces of
The Awen, when it flows,
Concerning skilful payments,
Concerning happy days,
Concerning a tranquil life,
Concerning the protection of ages.
Concerning what beseenis kings; how long their consolation.
Concerning similar things, that are on the face uf the earth.
Magnificent astronomy, when communicated,
Sees all that is high.
When the mind is active,
When the sea is pleasant,
When the race is valiant,
When the high one is supplicated,
Or the sun when it is given,
When it covers the land.
Covering land of what extent?
When was drawn the bird of wrath,
The bird of wrath when it was drawn.
When the earth is green.
Who chaunted songs?
Songs who chaunted?
If true, who has considered them?
It has been considered in books,
How many winds, how many streams,
How many streams, how many winds.
How many rivers in their courses,
How many rivers there are.
The earth, what its breadth;
Or what its thickness.
I know the noise of the blades,
Crimson on all sides, about the floor.
I know the regulator,
Between heaven and earth;
When an opposite hill is echoing,
When devastation urges onward,
When the silvery (vault) is shining,
When the deli shall be gloomy.
The breath when it is black,
When is best that has been.
A cow, when it is horned,
A wife, when she is lovely,
Milk, when it is white,
When the holly is green,
When is bearded the kid
In the multitude of fields,
When it is bearded,
When the cow-parsnip is created,
When is revolving the wheel,
When the mallet is fiat,
When is spotted the little roebuck,
When the salt is brine,
Ale, when it is of an active quality.
When is of purplish hue the alder.
When is green the linnet,
When are red the hips,
Or a woman when restless,
When the night comes on.
What reserve there is in the hour of flowing,
No one knows whence the bosom of the sun is made ruddy.
A stain on a new garment,
It is difficult to remove it.
The string of a harp, why it complains,
The cuckoo, why it complains, why it sings.
Why keepeth the agreeable,
Why have led the camp
Gereint and Arman.6
What brings out the sparkle
From hard working of the stones.
When is sweet-smelling the goat’s-beard plant;
When the crows are of a waxen hue.
Talhayarn is
The greatest astronomer.
What is the imagination of trees.
From the muse the agreement of a day.
I know good and evil.
* * * *
* * * *
The bowl of whom has flowed,
What dawn has finished,
Who preached,
Eli and Eneas:7
I know the cuckoos of summer,
(Where) they will be in the winter.
The Awen I sing,
From the deep I bring it,
A river while it flows,
I know its extent;
I know when it disappears;
I know when it fills;
I know when it overflows;
I know when it shrinks;
I know what base
There is beneath the sea.
I know their equivalent,
Every one in its retinue;
How many were heard in a day,
How many days in a year.
How many shafts in a battle,
How many drops in a shower.
Mildly he divided them.
A greater mockery, the partial stirring up of disgrace,
The vicious muse of Gwydyon.8
I know the one,
That filled the river,
On the people of Pharaoh.9
Who brought the windings
Of present reasons.
What was the active patience,
When heaven was upreared.
What was a sail-staff
From earth to sky.
How many fingers about the cauldron,
About one, about the hand,
What name the two words
Will not deliver in one cauldron.
When the sea is turning round,
When black are the fish.
Marine food shall be their flesh,
Until it is transformed,
When fish shall contain it.
When the foot of the white swan is black,
Four-sided the sharp spear.
The tribe of heaven will not put down.
Which are the four elements.
Their end is not known.
What pigs, or what wandering of stags.
I salute thee, Bard of the border.
May he increase thee, (whose) bones (are of) mist.
(Where) two cataracts of wind fall.
My mind has been expressed
In Hebrew, in Hebraic.
In Hebraic, in Hebrew,
Laudatu Laudate Jesu.10
A second time was I formed.
I have been a blue salmon.
I have been a dog; I have been a stag;
I have been a roebuck on the mountain. 
I have been a stock, I have been a spade 
I have been an axe in the hand; 
I have been a pin in a forceps,
A year and a half;
I have been a speckled white cock
Upon hens in Eiddyn.11
I have been a stallion over a stud.
I have been a violent bull,
I have been a buck of yellow hue,
As it is feeding.
I have been a grain discovered,
Which grew on a hill.
He that reaped me placed me,
Into a smoke-hole driving me.
Exerting of the hand,
In afflicting me,
A hen received me,
With ruddy claws, (and) parting comb
I rested nine nights.
In her womb a child,
I have been matured,
I have been an offering before the Guledig,12
I have been dead, I have been alive.
A branch there was to me of ivy,
I have been a convoy,
Before God I have been poor.
Again advised inc the cherisher
With ruddy claws; of what she gave me
Scarcely can be recounted;
Greatly will it be praised.
I am Taliesin.
I will delineate the true lineage,
That will continue to the end,
In the pattern of Elphin.


1. Avagddu: the ugly son of Cerridwen, for whom the three drops of awen were originally intended; instead, they fell on the thumb of Gwion Bach, who became Taliesin.

2. Elphin: Taliesin's patron and foster-father, the hapless son of Gwyddno Garanhir.

3. Talhaearn: contemporaneous bard with the nickname tad awen, meaning "father of inspiration."

4. Ogyrven: in other places ogyrwen or gogyrwen. A difficult subject. Some say it is a cauldron, while Pughe's dictionary says it is a "a spiritual being or form; a personified idea." Skene equates the term with Cerridwen, while Iolo Morgannwg claimed it was what the three rays of awen /|\ represented. The word itself may mean "youthful fair one" (og- youthful; wen < gwen "fair/white/blessed (female) one"). Are then seven-score goddesses inside the divine inspiration?

5. Awen: divine inspiration.

6. Gereint and Arman: Gereint may be the Gereint who fought at Longborth; Arman I am not familiar with.

7. Eli and Eneas: Elija and Aeneas? Elija was the famous hermit-prophet of Israel, and would not surprisingly appeal to the Celtic sensibilities, which had its own concept of the geilt, prophetic madmen who lived in the forest. Aeneas is considered an ancestor of the Britons via his grandson Brutus.

8. The vicious muse of Gwydyon.: Gwydion is the great magician (his name meaning wise one, or woodwise, and implies "druid"); his vicious muse may refer to his being a bard, and perhapse a satiric one. In "Math vab Mathonwy", he disguises himself as a bard so that he can steal Pryderi's swine.

9. I know... Pharaoh: i.e. Moses

10. Laudatu Laudate Jesu: "praise, praise Jesus"

11. Eiddyn: Edinburgh

12. Guledig: a type of chieftain-warlord.

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