The Celtic Literature Collective

Song Before the Sons of Llyr
Book of Taliesin XIV
From The Four Ancient Books of Wales

I will adore the love-diffusing Lord of every kindred
The sovereign of hosts manifestly round the universe.
A battle at the feast over joyless beverage,
A battle against the sons of Llyr in Ebyr Henfelyn.
I saw the oppression of the tumult, and wrath and tribulation
The blades gleamed on the glittering helmets,
Against Brochwel of Powys, that loved my Awen.
A battle in the pleasant course early against Urien,
There falls about our feet blood on destruction.
Shall not my chair be defended from the cauldron of Cerridwen?
May my tongue be free in the sanctuary of the praise of Gogyrwen.
The praise of Gogyrwen is an oblation, which has satisfied
Them, with milk, and dew, and acorns.
Let us consider deeply before is heard confession,
That death is assuredly coming nearer and nearer.
And round the lands of Enlli the Dyfi has poured,
Raising the ships on the surface of the plain.
And let us call upon him that has made us,
That he may protect us from the wrath of the alien nation.
When the isle of Mona shall be called a pleasant field,
Happy be the mild ones, the affliciton of the Saxons.
I came to Deganwy to contend
With Maelgwn1, the greatest in delinqencies,
I liberated my lord in the presence of the distributor.
Elphin, the sovereign of greatly aspiring ones.
There are to me three chairs regular, accordant,
And until doom they will continue with the singers.
I have been in the battle of Godeu, with Lleu and Gwydion,2
They changed the form of the elementary trees and sedges.
I have been with Bran in Ireland.3
I saw when Morddwydtyllon4 was killed.
I hears a meeting about the minstrels,
With the Gaels, devils, distillers.
From Penryn Wleth to Loch Reon
The Cymry are of one mind, bold heroes.
Deliver you the Cymry in tribulation.
Three races, cruel from true disposition,
Gael, Briton, and Roman,
Create discord and confusion.
And about the boundary of Prydein, beautiful its towns,
There is a battle against the chiefs above the mead-vessels.
In the festivals of the Distributor, who bestowed gifts upon me.
The chief astrologers received wonderful gifts.
Complete is my chair in Caer Siddi,
No one will be afflicted with disease or old age that may be in it.
Manawyddan and Pryderi know it.5
Three utterances, around the fire, will he sing before it,
And around its borders are the streams of the ocean.
And the fruitful fountain is above it,
The liquor Is sweeter than white wine.
And when I shall have worshipped you, Most High, before the sod,
May I be found in the covenant with You. 

1. Maelgwn: Maelgwn Gwynedd, famous king of North Wales in the sixth century.
2. Refering to the poem "Cad Goddeu," also in the Book.
3. Taliesin does appear as one of the seven survivors of the Battle of Ireland in "Branwen"
4. Morddwydtyllon: One of the names used by Bran in the Mabinogi branch of "Branwen," it refers to Bran being pierced in the thighs, which in turn contributes to the role of the Fisher King in the Grail romances.
5. Again, Taliesin was one of the seven survivors in "Branwen," along with Manawyddan, Pryderi, and four others.

This poem, attributed to Taliesin, makes a good deal of references to the Mabinogion proper, the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, dealing with Pryderi, Manawyddan ap Llyr, Bran and Branwen, and Gwydion. It mentions the Cad Goddeu--the Battle of the Trees, which is another poem from this book, and Caer Siddi, the mythical city of the Cauldron of Annwn in the Prieddu Annwn, another poem from this book. It's a cobbling together of several mythological themes--the Cauldron of Cerridwen, the Cauldron of Bran, the Cauldron of Annwn; the battles between the Children of Don and the Children of Llyr, and the inspiration that the bard receives from the Most High.

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