The Conversation between Myrddin and Taliesin

The Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin (The conversation between Myrddin and Taliesin) is a poetic conversation between Myrddin and Taliesin, considered to be one of the Poems of Myrddin. It can be found in the Black Book of Carmarthen and, either in full or partially, in Pen. 26, Pen. 59, Pen. 54, Llanst. 119 and MA. 45. The date of the poem is difficult to determine, but A.O.H. Jarman estimates it to be around the end of the eleventh century. The poem can be divided into two parts, which differ from each other in metre and contents. In the first part of the poem, l. 1-22, Myrddin and Taliesin discuss the attack made by Maelgwn Gwynedd on Dyfed and the second part, l. 23-38, consists of prophecies concerning the battle of Arfderydd.

The conversation of Myrddin and Taliesin

How sad by me, how sad
that Cedfwy and Cadfan fell,
the battle was fiery and loud,
the shields were speckled and noisy.

It was Maelgwn who I saw fighting,
His war-band was not silent before the host.

Before two men they crowded together ineutur,
Before Errith and Gurrith on a pale white horse
Light brown horses came certainly,
Quickly the host will be seen with Elgan,
Woe for his death, they came a great journey.

Rhys Undant, a span was his shield,
To you came the blessing of the battle,
Cyndur was killed, beyond measure they mourn,
Men who were noble whilst they lived, were killed,
Three men of distinction, their fame was great by Elgan.

Over and over, host after host they came,
Yonder and yonder came to me fear for Elgan,
Killing Dywel in their last battle,
The son of Erbin and his men did.

The host of Maelgwn, it was brave that they came,
Soldiers of battle, brightness of the battlefield;
The battle of Arfderydd, that is the reason,
During their life they prepared.

Hosts of spearmen of bloodshed and slaughter
Hosts of strong men frail weaklings
Hosts when they are wounded, hosts when they are put to flight.
Hosts of their retreat, in their battle.

Seven sons of Eliffer, seven men when it is proved
They will not avoid seven spears in their seven divisions.

Seven blazing fires, seven opposing hosts.
The seventh one, Cynfelyn, every time in the front line of the battle.

Seven piercing spears, seven full rivers,
They will fill with the blood of the leaders.

A hundred and forty noblemen who went intro madness
In the Caledonian forest they perished.
Since I, Myrddin, am after Taliesin,
My prophecy will be just

A translation of A.O.H. Jarman’s Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin, 2nd edition, Cardiff, 1967