Sunday, 29 August 2010

Penillion Singing - Thomas Love Peacock (1785 - 1866)

Besides the single songs, there were songs in dialogue, approaching very nearly to the character of dramatic poetry; and penillion, or unconected stanzas, sung in series by different singers, the stanzas being complete in themselves, simple as Greek epigrams, and presenting in succession moral precepts, pictures of natural scenery, images of war or of festival, the lamentations of absence or captivity, and the complaints or triumphs of love. This penillion-singing long survived among the Welsh peasantry almost every other vestige of bardic customs, and may still be heard among them on the few occasions on which rack-renting, tax collecting, common-enclosing, methodist-preaching, and similar developments of the light of the age, have left them either the means or inclination of making merry.

From :- The Misfortunes of Elphin

Hen benillion ( literally 'old verses') are a unique form of folk poetry in Britain. Dating from the 16th century and earlier these short verses, or chains of verses, were composed to be spoken or sung to a harp accompianiment. They have been performed at socialgathering in Wales for centuries, enriching the collective public memory with their mix of proverbs, saws, catchphrases and commentary on local events characters. They are, quite literally, a people's poetry, and regular reciters would have hunreds in their repetoires. They were written in free, as opposed to traditional fixed metres.

from:- A people' poetry, seren , 1997.


Hardd yw Conwy, hardd yw Nefyn,
Hardd yw brigau coedydd Mostyn,
Haddaff lle'r wy'n allu 'nabod
Yn y byd yw dyffryn Meifod.

(Conway is fair, Nevin is fair, the tips of the Mostyn trees are fair, the fairest place I can ever know in the world is Meivod Valley. )

Cleddwch fi, pan fyddwyf farw,
Yn y coed dan ddail y derw;
Chwi gewch weled llanc penfelyn
Ar fy medd yn canu'r delyn.

( Bury me, when I am dead, in the trees under the oak leaves; you shall see a yellow-haired youth on my grave playing the harp.)

Mae dwy galon yn fy mynwes,
Un yn oer a'r llall yn gynness;
Un yn gynnes am ei charu,
A'r llall yn oer rhag ofn ei cholli.

( There are two hearts in my bosom, one is cold and the other warm; one is warm through love of her, and the other is cold through fear of losing her.)

Futher Penillion translated By Mr Glyn Jones

Amser sydd i dewi ar bopeth,
amser sydd i ddwedyd rhywbeth,
Ond ni ellir cael un amser
I ddweud popeth yn ddibryder.

( Theres a time for saying nothing;there's a time for saying something; there never is a time for pouring the whole truth out and nver caring.)

Cyn i mi yfed nid oeedwdwn yn gweled
Ffordd yn y byd i dalu fy nyled.
Ond wedi im yfed yr oeddwn yn gweled
Digon i dalu a digon i yfed.

( Before I got boozed up I just couldn't see, how to pay all the bills they kept sending me, But when I got drunk, oh I knew how to get more money to booze with and pay off my debt.)

Maent yn dewdyd bod yr wylan
Ar y traeth yn cadw tafarn,
Ac yn gwerthu'n rhad y ddiod, -
Dyna un o'r saith rhyfedodd.

I'm told the seagull in some cavern
By the sea-shore keeps a tavern,
Where he sells cheap beer for fun.
Of the Seven Wonders - this is one!

Tebyg ydyww'r delyn dyner
I ferch wen a'i chnwad melysber;
Wrth ei theimlo mewn cyfrinach,
Fe ddaw honno'n fwynach, fwynach.

The gentle harp is like a fresh
Young maiden, and her tender flesh;
What follows fingering her in secret
Is something sweeter and more dulcet.

Pen-Y- Gadair

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