The Celtic Literature Collective

The Gwarchan of Cynfelyn
The Book of Aneurin IV
From The Four Ancient Books of Wales

Here now beginneth the Gorchan of Cynvelyn.

Were I to praise,
Were I to sing,
The Gwarchan would cause high shoots to spring,
Stalks like the collar of Trych Trwyth,[1]
Monstrously savage, bursting and thrusting through,
When he was attacked in the river
Before his precious things.
Cam Gaffon burst through,
Before the cairns of Riwrhon, 
Those that delighted in war,
Whose bones were short, their horsemen shorter.
Gylvach burst through
The assaults of heroism.
Fury against the Angles is just;
It is right to kill; it is right to crush those who are crushing.
Before the congenial splendour
There will be light for furthering the project,
And ability to descend
To every daring enterprise,
Through nail, through snare,
Through trapdoor, and fetters,
And gold spread abroad;
And deep sorrow will happen
To Gwynassedd the yellow.
His blood will be around him
Concealed will be the froth
Of the splendid yellow mead;
Again there will be blood around him
Before the battles of Cynvelyn,--
From the indignation of Cynvelyn,
The uplifted pillar of wrath,
Food-provider for the birds.
With pendent stirrups
Will the graceful ones return,
Under the thigh of the heroes,
As swift as sprites move
On a pleasant lawn.
Sovereign of the land of song!
It is mine to lament him, 
Until I come to the silent day!
The foe asked for
Along-handled weapon!
More powerful than the highly-honoured lays
Is the Gwarchan of Cynvelyn.
The Gorchan of Cynvelyn, to make the region weep.
A man of fortitude from Gwynedd has departed his country!
The brave are lamented;
Let the Caer of Eiddin
[2] deplore
The dread and illustrious men clothed in splendid blue. 
Brilliant is thy ruddy gem-is it not precious?
Flowing panegyric is due to the horses
Of Eithinyn-are they not splendid?
The Gwarchan of Cynvelyn on Gododin!
Has he not, for a man, performed a reasonable part?
His heavy spear, adorned with gold, he bestowed on me;
Be it for the benefit of his soul!
His son Tegvan shall be honoured
In numbering and in partitioning, the grandson of Cadvan,
The pillar of ardency. 
When weapons were hurled
Over the heads of battle-wolves,
Soon would he come in the day of distress.
Three men and three score and three hundred
To the conflict of Catraeth went forth
Of those who hastened
From the mead of the cup-bearers, three only returned,- 
Cynon, and Cadreith, and Cadlew of Cadnant;
And me, on account of my blood they deplored,
Son of the omen pile, my ransom they contributed, 
Of pure gold, and steel, and silver.
For their heroism they received no protection.
The Gwarchan of Cynvelyn will celebrate their contribution.


[1] Twrch Trwyth: The boar hunted by Arthur and his men in Culhwch and Olwen.

[2] Caer of Eiddin: modern Edinburgh.

The Four Ancient Books of Wales. ed. by William F. Skene. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1868.

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