Friday, 17 December 2010

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre. - Anonymous 13th Century

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre,
Which will last to the end of the world.
My patron is Elphin...
I know why there is an echo in a hollow;
Why silver gleams; why breath is black; why liver is bloody;
Why a cow has horns; why a woman is affectionate;
Why milk is white; why holly is green;
Why a kid is bearded; why the cow-parsnip is hollow;
Why brine is salt; why ale is bitter;
Why the linnet is green and berries red;
Why a cuckoo complains; why it sings;
I know where the cuckoos of summer are in winter.
I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;
How many spears in battle; how many drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharoah's people;
Why fishes have scales,
Why a white swan has black feet...
I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
A grain which grew on a hill,
I was reaped, and placed in an oven,
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive,
I am Taliesin.

Ah Taliesin, the Welsh wizard bard. He probally lived in the sixth century, was same age as the chieftain who became the 'King Arthur ' of later romance. Taliesin's legend and poems survive in the 'Mabinogion'. In legend and medieval Welsh poetry he is often referred to as Taliesin Chief of the bards / poets ( Taliesin Ben Beirdd) .
The witch Ceridwen once prepared in her cauldron a magic brew which, after a year's boiling, was to yield three blessed drops. Whoever swallowed these drops would know all the secrets of the pasrt, the present, and the future. The gift of prophecy. By accident this happened to be Gwion Bach, the boy who helped to tend the fire beneath the cauldron. When boiling drops fell on his finger, he put it in his mouth, and then, realising his danger, fled. Ceridwen pursued him relentlessly. After numerous transformations, the ravenous witch as a hen ate the fugitive boy disguised as a grain of wheat.
Thrown into the sea at last, he was caught in a fish -trap, and called Taliesin, the meaning of which is 'radiant brow'. His knowledge dumbfounded king's bards and amazed the common people. ' I have been dead, I have been alive... I am Taliesin.'

Taliesin yw fi.

Dw'in canu yn mesurydd perffaith,
Pa diwetha hyd ddiwedd y byd.
Fy noddwr yn Elphin...

Below of Taliesin (Bedd Taliesin) on the shores Lake Bala in Wales, believed to be his final
resting place.


  1. I love this poem so thank you for posting it. It's one of my favourites and I wanted a digital copy.

  2. is rather beautiful.

  3. Thank you for posting this poem! Where can find the full Welsh text?

    1. Taliesin wyf fi
      Perffaith fy ngherdd i
      Canaf hyd ddydd y farn
      Fi yw Taliesin
      Rwy’n deall dirgelion
      Pam bod buwch yn gorniog a dynes yn chwannog
      Pam bod halen yn hallt a barf ar fyn gafr
      Pam bod llaeth yn wyn a’r egroes yn goch
      Pam bo’r hydd yn frith
      Pam bod cen ar bysgodyn
      Pam bod alarch yn wyn er bod ganddo draed du
      Rwy’n gwybod pam
      Pam bod nos yn disgyn a’r haul yn codi
      A’r ser yn troi trwy rewynt am byth
      Lle mae cwcw'r haf yn byw yn y gaeaf
      Pa fwystfilod sy’n byw dan eigion y môr
      Sawl gwaywffon sydd mewn brwydr
      Sawl diferyn mewn cawod
      Pam y boddwyd pobl yr Aifft dan y don
      Taliesin wyf fi
      Rwy’n gwybod y cyfan; profais y cyfan
      Bûm ar bob ffurf
      Bûm yn gi, yn hydd, yn iwrch ar y mynydd
      Yn gyff, yn rhaw, yn fwyell mewn llaw
      Bûm yn ebill mewn gefail am flwyddyn a hanner
      Bûm yn geiliog brithwyn yn sengu ar ieir
      Bûm yn ronyn o ŷd ar ochr y mynydd
      Cyn i ddyn dod a'm fedi
      Disgynnais i’r llawr, daeth iâr heibio a’m bwyta
      Bûm naw diwrnod a noswaith yn dwym yn ei chro'
      Bûm yn ddyn ac yn dduw
      Bûm farw; bûm fyw
      Taliesin wyf fi
      Perffaith fy ngherdd i
      Byw bydd fy awen hyd ddiwedd y byd.

  4. not completely sure, but from the mabinogian, I think, which has been translated a few times,the originals not a product of one singular mind though , guess this is how our talea survive,I have been trying to find a translation for ages, the welsh national library possibly holds a key. I guess a diligent Welh teacherI guess this is the ultimate difficulty of translation, would be able to help further, but I am sure you will agree, in the gift of any language, it is beautiful nevertheless, the mystery and wonder of folklore and language,an eternal poem , still setting paths of discovery at the end of the day.Think I personally discovered the path of Taliesin through the White Godess by Robert Graves. Regards, all the best.

  5. diolch am fawr i postio mad with word, caredig iawn.

  6. Croeso, dwi wedi caru y bardd hon am oesoedd, Rwy'n gobeithio ei fod hi'n helpu pawb eraill! Hwyl!

  7. neis, cofion cynnes, ac dim problem,bydd fi, drwg da fi, dysgwyr cymraeg da fi,diolch iawn am y geiriau hyn, hyfryd, cofion cynnes.