gwarchan/Gwarchan of Maelderw
In Douglas Monroe's stinking pile of--er, I mean, book--The 21 Lessons of Merlyn, he mentions a "Gorchan of Maldrew," a magic book of spells. Of course, there is no such thing, just as there is no Book of Fferllyt. However, there is a "Gwarchan of Maeldderew," attributed to Taliesin but occuring in the Book of Anuerin. A gwarchan is a type of poem, sometimes identified with the French lai, and in this case commemorates a fallen warrior at the Battle of Catterick. It is preceded in the book by the following rubric:
Every ode of the Gododdin is equivalent to a single song, according to the privilege of poetical composition. Each of the Gwarchans is equal to three hundred and sixty-three songs, because the number of the men who went to Catraeth is commemorated in the Gwarchans; and as no man should go to battle without arms, so no bard ought to contend without that poem.
The translation is that which is given in The Four Ancient Books of Wales. It is the only somewhat-complete translation that I know of, since the text itself is very obscure and difficult to translate. I don't even attempt it if Ifor Williams (a noted Welsh translator) can't seem to.
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Mary Jones © 2003