I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre
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 may drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharaoh’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, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
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.
Eleven medieval Welsh tales collectively referred to as the Mabinogion have been widely influential providing the basis of much European and world literature including Arthur and Merlin. In the mid 19th century Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of 11 medieval Welsh folk tales under the title The Mabinogion,ironically incorrect but used ever since, from when the tales came to prominence. They are concerned with the themes of fall and redemption, loyalty, marriage, love, fidelity, the wronged wife, and incest set in a magical landscape corresponding geographically to the western coast of south and north Wales,in which white horses magically appear, giants, beautiful, intelligent women and heroic men.
I love the lyrical quality of Ifor Williams translation above, a reknown Welsh scholar who made Old Welsh his main field of study.
Artwork my own.