Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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MEILYR BRYDYDD ( fl . c . 1100-1137 ), chief court-poet

to Gruffudd ap Cynan at Aberffraw . He is considered the earliest of the ‘Gogynfeirdd.’ Meilyr , and Gwalchmai (his son, q.v.) , and his grand-children, appear to be the likeliest known instance in Wales of a line of hereditary poets , as was usual in Ireland , holding land in return for their eulogies of a particular line of rulers. Trefeilyr and Trewalchmai remain as place-names in Anglesey . Sir J. Morris-Jones noted a chronological difficulty in accepting as the work of Meilyr Brydydd the elegy to Trahaearn ap Caradog and Meilyr ap Rhiwallon who were slain at Mynydd Cam ( 1081 ). The only other remaining poems by him are the elegy to Gruffudd ap Cynan ( 1137 ) and the poet's own death-bed lament. In the former, as Sir J. E. Lloyd observed, we have the earliest extant expression in Welsh poetry of the spirit of the Welsh re-awakening which accompanied the rise of the princes of Gwynedd in the 12th cent. In the lament Meilyr expresses a wish to be buried on Bardsey . It does not seem probable that he long survived his chief patron, and we know that his son, Gwalchmai , was of age to receive the patronage of Gwynedd princes before 1132 (see Hendreg. MS. 13a ).

Sources:

  • Llawysgrif Hendregadredd (N.L.W. MS. 6680) , 1933 ;
  • The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales , 140-2;
  • J. Morris-Jones , Cerdd Dafod sef celfyddyd barddoniaeth Gymraeg (Oxford, 1925) , xxiv;
  • J. E. Lloyd , A History of Wales: from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest ;
  • J. Lloyd-Jones , The Court Poets of the Welsh Princes .

Author:

David Myrddin Lloyd, M.A., (1909-81), Aberystwyth / Scotland

Published date: 1959