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The Mabinogion

Translation by Lady Charlotte Guest

The Mabinogion

   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Arthurian and related Texts

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The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion is a collection of Welsh folk tales, the earliest extant copy of which dates from the thirteenth century. However much of the material is considerably older with the four stories of the first group recording memories of ancient Celtic mythology

"The earliest full stories concerning King Arthur and his exploits appear to be the little known Welsh tales of "Culhwch and Olwen" and the "Dream of Rhonabwy". Though dating from before the 11th century, these two stories became a late attachment to a collection of Welsh mythological tales taken from the 14th century White Book of Rhydderch and Red Book of Hergest. Together, they are known as the "Mabinogion": an introduction for aspiring poets. Though the stories have a mythological slant, a certain amount of bardic poetic license is to be expected. Their background, however, is clearly an unfamiliar Dark Age society that gives us some idea of what the real Arthur was probably like" - source unknown

The stories are usually divided into four groups;- 

the first group, collectively known as the four branches of the Mabinogion, are Pwyll - Prince of Dyved, Branwen - Daughter of Llyr, Manawyddan son of Llyr and Math son of Mathonwy are acknowledged to be pre- Christian.

The second group are 'The Dream of Maxen Wledig' and 'The Story of Lludd and Llevelys' - two stories that recall the time of the Romans 

The third group are stories of Arthur. 'Kilhwch and Olwen', 'The Dream of Rhonabwy', 'The Lady of the Fountain', Peredur, the son of Evrawc', and 'Geraint, the son of Erbin'.

The fourth group consists of one story, the romance of Taliesin

Book of Taliesin

 

The Book of Taliesin is a collection of prophetic, religious and historical poems ostensibly written by the sixth century Welsh bard Taliesin. The earliest surviving copy has been dated to 1275. Experts agree that some, but not all, of the material included in the book of Taliesin originated in the sixth century. The poems include 'Preiddeu Annwfn' - 'The Spoils of Annwyn'

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The Welsh Triads

'The Triads are a peculiar species of poetical composition, of which the Welsh bards have left numerous examples. They are enumerations of a triad of persons, or events, or observations, strung together in one short sentence. This form of composition, originally invented, in all likelihood, to assist the memory, has been raised by the Welsh to a degree of elegance of which it hardly at first sight appears susceptible. The Triads are of all ages, some of them probably as old as anything in the language. Short as they are individually, the collection in the Myvyrian Archaeology occupies more than one hundred and seventy pages of double columns.'  

 

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