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The Mabinogion

Translation by Lady Charlotte Guest

Preiddeu Annwn - Spoils of Annwn.

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Perfect was the captivity of Gwair in Caer Sidi,

Thanks to Pwyll and Pryderi's emissary.

Before him no one entered in to it,

The heavy, dark chain held the faithful youth.

And before the spoils of Annwn sorely he sang,

And thenceforth remains he till doom a bard.

Three freights of Prydwen went we thither,

But only seven returned from Caer Sidi.

 

 
 

This poem,   from the Book of Taliesin (Llyfr Taliesin), contains the outline of a now lost legendary tale. The poet tells of Arthur and his men sailing to the Fairy Fortress ,Caer Sidi, aboard Arthur's ship Prydwen to free the captive Gwair

"In the Book of Taliessin a weird poem, Preiddeu Annwfn, or the Ĺ Spoils of Annwnĺ, describes, in language not always clear, how .. Arthur made a similar journey to ..  Annwn, where he, like CuchuIainn in Scßth, gained possession of a magic cauldron Ś a pagan Celtic type of the Holy Grail Ś which furnishes inexhaustible food though Ĺit will not boil the food of a cowardĺ. But in stanzas iii and iv of Preiddeu Annwfn, Annwn, or Uffern as it is otherwise called, is not an underground realm, but some world to be reached like the Gaelic Land of Promise by sea. Annwn is also called Caer Sidi, which In another poem of the Book of Taliessin (No. XIV) is thought of as an island of immortal youth amidĺ the streams of the oceanĺ where there is a food-giving fountain."

from - The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries - W.Y.Evans Wentz - 1911

There is universal agreement among leading scholars in the field that the Fairy Fortress, Caer Sidi, refers to the Island of Lundy;-

'Caer Sidi has been identified with Puffin Island off the coast of Anglesey and with Lundy Island in the Severn; both of them island elysiums of the usual type.' - Robert Graves, The White Goddess, p.101.

'It is not improbable that the legend about Gwair located his prison on Lundy, as the Welsh name of that island appears to have been 'Ynys Wair', 'Gwair's Island'. Rhys -Celtic Folklore

'The Isle of Lundy probably owes its Welsh name 'Ynys Wair' to the localization there of the imprisonment of Gwair (Gwri).' - R.S. Loomis, Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance, p.188.

'The site of Gweir's imprisonment has been associated with the place-name 'Ynys Wair'; .. this name has been given to ...  Lundy Island. ----- Bromwich.

'An old name for Lundy is Ynys Wair,or Weir meaning the island of Gwair or Gweir - The name of a mythical person who was apparently imprisoned in some sort of Otherworld place.' - A.F. Langham, The Island of Lundy.

Caer Sidi is given a new synonym with each stanza of the poem and there has been much scholarly debate as to their meaning. Robert Graves gives the following meanings/translations:-

Caer Rigour -Royal Castle

Caer Colur -Gloomy Castle

Caer Pedryvan - 4 Cornered Castle (4 times revolving)

Graves is of the opinion that Ĺfour corneredĺ is a reference to a burial mound of the type known as a ĹKistvaenĺ

Caer Vediwid-Castle of Perfect Ones

Caer Ochren -Castle of Shelving Sides (entered. from a slope)

Caer Vandwy -Castle on High 

I seem to have lost the English translation of this poem somewhere in my notes!

Welsh Text

Golychaf wledicpendeuic gwlat ri. 

py ledas y└pennaethdros traeth mundi. 

bu kyweirkarchar gweiryg└kaer sidi. 

trwy ebostol pwylla└phryderi. 

Neb kyn noc efnyt aeth idi. 

yr gadwyn trom/laskywirwas ae ketwi. 

A└rac preidu annwfyntost yt geni. 

Ac yt urawtparahawtyn└bardwedi. 

Tri lloneit prytwenyd aetham ni idi. 

nam seithny dyrreitho└gaer sidi. 

Neut wyf glot geinmyncerd ochlywir. 

yg└kaer pedryuanpedyr└ychwelyt. 

yg kynneiror peirpan leferit. 

O anadyl naw morwyngochyneuit. 

Neu peir pen annwfynpwy y vynut. 

gwrym am y└orora└mererit. 

ny beirw bwyt llwfyrny ry tyghit. 

cledyf lluch lleawcidaw rydyrchit. 

Ac yn llaw leminawcyd└edewit. 

A└rac drws porth vffernllugyrn lloscit. 

A└phan aetham ni gan arthurtrafferth lethrit. 

nam seithny dyrreitho gaer vedwit. 

Neut wyf glot geinmynkerd glywanawr. 

yg kaer pedryfanynys pybyrdor echwyd a└muchydkymyscetor gwin gloyw eu gwirawtrac eu gorgord. 

Tri lloneit prytwenyd aetham ni ar└vor. 

nam seithny dyrreitho└gaer rigor. 

Ny obrynafi lawyrllen llywyadur tra chaer wydyr ny welsyntwrhyt arthur. 

Tri vgeint canhwra seui ar y mur. 

oed anhawd ymadrawdae gwylyadur. 

tri lloneit prytwenyd aeth gan arthur. 

nam seithny dyrreitho└gaer golud. 

Ny obrynaf y lawyrllaes eu kylchwy ny wdant wy py└dydperidyd pwy. 

py awr ymeindydy ganet cwy. 

Pwy gwnaethar└nyt aethdoleu defwy. 

ny wdant wy yr ych brychbras y└penrwy. 

seith vgein kygwngyny aerwy. 

A└phan aetham ni gan arthurauyrdwl gofwy. 

nam seithny dyrreitho gaer vandwy. 

Ny obrynafy lawyrllaes eu gohen. ny wdant py└dydperidyd pen. 

Py awr ymeindydy ganet perchen. 

Py vil a gatwantaryant y└pen. 

Pan aetham ni gan arthurafyrdwl gynhen. 

nam seithny dyrreitho gaer ochren. 

Myneich dychnutval cunin cor. 

o gyfranc udydae gwidanhor. 

Ae vn hynt gwyntae vn dwfyr mor. 

Ae vn vfel tantwrwf diachor. Myneych dychnutval bleidawr. 

o└gyfranc udydae gwidyanhawr ny wdant pan yscardeweint 

a└gwawr. neu wynt pwy hyntpwy y└rynnawd. 

py va diuapy tir a└plawd. bet sant yn└diuanta└bet allawr. 

Golychaf y wledicpenefic mawr. na bwyf tristcrist am gwadawl.

 

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