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Early Welsh Saga Poetry: A Study and Edition of the Englynion

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The early Welsh Saga Englynion are lyric poems in character, long presumed to be the poetic remains of lost stories, told in a mixture of prose and verse. Three main cycles survive, centred on the figures of Llywarch Hen, who loses all his sons in his vicarious quest for glory; Unrien Rheged, a king unwillingly betrayed by his follower and kinsman; and Heledd, the sole sur The early Welsh Saga Englynion are lyric poems in character, long presumed to be the poetic remains of lost stories, told in a mixture of prose and verse. Three main cycles survive, centred on the figures of Llywarch Hen, who loses all his sons in his vicarious quest for glory; Unrien Rheged, a king unwillingly betrayed by his follower and kinsman; and Heledd, the sole survivor of an English invasion of her country. There are also many non-cyclical poems of the same type with other narrator figures such as the leper of Abercuawg. The best poems display considerable artistry and emotional intensity. The critical discussion of the saga Englynion seeks to restore the lost narrative background by careful reading of internal indications and by comparative study. The growth, nature and artistry of each cycle is fully explored, as well as how each relates to the larger corpus. Relevant early Welsh traditions and history are also cited. This is the first full edition of the saga EnglynionCanu Llywarch Hen, and uses two additional manuscript copies. Full translations make the work accessible to a wider audience.


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The early Welsh Saga Englynion are lyric poems in character, long presumed to be the poetic remains of lost stories, told in a mixture of prose and verse. Three main cycles survive, centred on the figures of Llywarch Hen, who loses all his sons in his vicarious quest for glory; Unrien Rheged, a king unwillingly betrayed by his follower and kinsman; and Heledd, the sole sur The early Welsh Saga Englynion are lyric poems in character, long presumed to be the poetic remains of lost stories, told in a mixture of prose and verse. Three main cycles survive, centred on the figures of Llywarch Hen, who loses all his sons in his vicarious quest for glory; Unrien Rheged, a king unwillingly betrayed by his follower and kinsman; and Heledd, the sole survivor of an English invasion of her country. There are also many non-cyclical poems of the same type with other narrator figures such as the leper of Abercuawg. The best poems display considerable artistry and emotional intensity. The critical discussion of the saga Englynion seeks to restore the lost narrative background by careful reading of internal indications and by comparative study. The growth, nature and artistry of each cycle is fully explored, as well as how each relates to the larger corpus. Relevant early Welsh traditions and history are also cited. This is the first full edition of the saga EnglynionCanu Llywarch Hen, and uses two additional manuscript copies. Full translations make the work accessible to a wider audience.

35 review for Early Welsh Saga Poetry: A Study and Edition of the Englynion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liam Guilar

    Encyclopaedic edition which includes detailed introductory essays, editions of the Welsh texts, translations and notes. It's a huge book and worth the price, but if you're just looking for an edition of the poems, Rowland's 'A Selection of Early Welsh Saga Poetry' for the MHRA Library of Medieval Welsh Literature contains most of the Welsh texts, and while lacking the detailed essays and translations, does also contain a glossary. Encyclopaedic edition which includes detailed introductory essays, editions of the Welsh texts, translations and notes. It's a huge book and worth the price, but if you're just looking for an edition of the poems, Rowland's 'A Selection of Early Welsh Saga Poetry' for the MHRA Library of Medieval Welsh Literature contains most of the Welsh texts, and while lacking the detailed essays and translations, does also contain a glossary.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Flint Johnson

    Rowlands does for the saga poems what Bromwich did for the Welsh Triads and Jackson did with 'Y Gododdin'. A remarkable study of the poetry, including a competent overview of their origins and development. Of course she does not do the phenomenal research Bromwich did in finding every other mention of each character followed by an essay on them, but the work she does do is solid and highly useful for the professional scholar. Apparently it is readable to the enthusiast as well. Rowlands does for the saga poems what Bromwich did for the Welsh Triads and Jackson did with 'Y Gododdin'. A remarkable study of the poetry, including a competent overview of their origins and development. Of course she does not do the phenomenal research Bromwich did in finding every other mention of each character followed by an essay on them, but the work she does do is solid and highly useful for the professional scholar. Apparently it is readable to the enthusiast as well.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I bought this book for research, and it was just the ticket, but even used it's so bloody expensive I'll need to sell it on. Rowland's translations are well-annotated, but a bit dry. Her notes and bibliography are certainly useful if you are taking a deep dive into these poems, but I wouldn't choose this edition for casual reading or enjoyment of the poetry in translation. The Welsh text is also included, although unfortunately not side-by-side, so you would have to leaf back and forth. It don't I bought this book for research, and it was just the ticket, but even used it's so bloody expensive I'll need to sell it on. Rowland's translations are well-annotated, but a bit dry. Her notes and bibliography are certainly useful if you are taking a deep dive into these poems, but I wouldn't choose this edition for casual reading or enjoyment of the poetry in translation. The Welsh text is also included, although unfortunately not side-by-side, so you would have to leaf back and forth. It don't know Rowland's other work, but her style of commentary here is extremely conservative, leaning toward "de-bunking". Sometimes that's useful for getting rid of some of the more old-fashioned, romantic ideas about these texts, but at other times it becomes a bit annoying - especially when, having shot down the theories of her predecessors, she doesn't offer much to take their places. The book is well bound and nicely printed.

  4. 5 out of 5

    dragonhelmuk

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. THE BOOK on Welsh Saga englynion. Contains in part 2 editions and translations of Llywarch Hen, Urien, Heledd, Mabclaf, Cadwallon, ysgollan plus ymddiddan gwynn ap nudd etc. If only it wasn’t so expensive to buy… The first part analyses and sums up each cycle in turn, and uncovers most of the scholarship on the subject. Two quotes: (Comparison between different englynion) The main point which must be stressed is the interrelationship of the various genres of englynion poetry, especially in matters THE BOOK on Welsh Saga englynion. Contains in part 2 editions and translations of Llywarch Hen, Urien, Heledd, Mabclaf, Cadwallon, ysgollan plus ymddiddan gwynn ap nudd etc. If only it wasn’t so expensive to buy… The first part analyses and sums up each cycle in turn, and uncovers most of the scholarship on the subject. Two quotes: (Comparison between different englynion) The main point which must be stressed is the interrelationship of the various genres of englynion poetry, especially in matters of technique. In the gnomic poetry which is essentially non-personal we have seen the intrusion of a first-person narrator who is not the poet. Use of nature description and unifying opening formulae are common in both the saga and gnomic englynion, and it is likely the two genres influenced each other. The use of a first-person narrraor is exploted in most of the rest of the forms of poetry ddiscussed in this chapter, or more commonly, the dialogue of two characters. (a local hero) The poem falls into two dinsct partsL an opening battle description which is vivid and distinctive and a second highly mechanical series of incremental verses on Geraint’s horses. The second series may have been equally pleasing to early audiences with a love of ritual and repetition, but there is a possibility that two separate poems by different poets have been combined here. This would support the generally held opinion that the poem (or poems) is a fragment from a cycle on Geraint fab Erbin. (This was needless to say very different from the surviving medieval romance about him). Geraint like most of the heroes of englynion saga is a historical figure although little is known about him. As in the poem, the family is consistently associated with southeast {yes} Britain, cornwall and Devon in particular, although Robert Vaughen identifies Swydd Erbin from the Third series of bedda stanzas as Somerset. {Melwas prince of swydd erbin, now called gwlad yr haf}. Cornwall has several place-names with the name Geraint, but the name was a common one. The battle site at Llongsborth cannot be identifies with certainty. An older theory, recently revived, argues that the poem commemorates from the British side a battle at Portsmouth noted in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle for 501.There are several objections to this. If the geneaologies are correct the date is far too early for Geraint, and as shall be seen below there is reason to doubt the reading which states Geraint was killed in the battle, so there is no need to associate him with the British man of high rank killed at Portsmouth. Anglo-Saxon historians moreover, think the annal is a doublet of a later battle in which the slain British nobleman is called Nantleoda. Langport in Somerset is a possible location, but if llongborth is used like the Irish longphort for ‘camp, fortress’ as well as ‘harbour; it is possible that no specific place-name was intended by the poet. TYP 14 which names Geraint among the tri llyyynghessauc, ‘seaf-farers, pirates, exiles’ may support a location near a harbour for the battle.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Volsung

    Really outstanding edition (plus translation) of a number of Middle Welsh poems regarded as belonging to the same general "genre" -- designated somewhat broadly (but not unfittingly) as "elegiac," "lyric," and/or "penitential." Contained are the early Welsh poems "Claf Abercuawg" and "Kyntaw Geir"; the three poetry-cycles centering around, respectively, the figures of Llywarch Hen, Urien Rheged, and Heledd; and other miscellaneous poems. All are works characterized by tragic circumstances, natur Really outstanding edition (plus translation) of a number of Middle Welsh poems regarded as belonging to the same general "genre" -- designated somewhat broadly (but not unfittingly) as "elegiac," "lyric," and/or "penitential." Contained are the early Welsh poems "Claf Abercuawg" and "Kyntaw Geir"; the three poetry-cycles centering around, respectively, the figures of Llywarch Hen, Urien Rheged, and Heledd; and other miscellaneous poems. All are works characterized by tragic circumstances, nature imagery, ruminative and meditative reflection on the self and states of being, and proverbial and Christian wisdom. The very great virtue of this edition is its extremely thorough and informative commentary, both in the form of its lengthy and detailed introduction to the texts, their backgrounds, issues of interpretation, and so forth; and in the (equally detailed) textual notes to the poems themselves. A really marvelous and useful edition of these fascinating and compelling poems.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    One of the best book I've bought in ages. Essentially a study of the Welsh Englynion poems but also contains the complete texts and modern English translations of the poems. Anyone who's enjoyed Bromwich's triads or the Gododdin poems will love this. One of the best book I've bought in ages. Essentially a study of the Welsh Englynion poems but also contains the complete texts and modern English translations of the poems. Anyone who's enjoyed Bromwich's triads or the Gododdin poems will love this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James (Jimmie) Price

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  9. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Hollywood

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tanzerine.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mihoubi

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jorge

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bree Mclaren

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kiana

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paige

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

  26. 5 out of 5

    Guto

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert Humphries

  28. 5 out of 5

    Philip

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christopher York

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  31. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Mcknight

  32. 4 out of 5

    Malak

  33. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  34. 4 out of 5

    Katelin

  35. 4 out of 5

    Bookwyrm

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