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List of Welsh-language poets (6th century to c. 1600)

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Much of Welsh language poetry has, until quite recently, been composed in various forms of strict metre (canu caeth), latterly with the encouragement of the eisteddfod movement. The following list is as inclusive as possible for the years prior to 1600. It includes as many minor poets as possible to illustrate the range and content of Welsh poetry throughout the ages. However much early poetry has been lost, and much medieval verse is either anonymous or, usually in the case of mythological poems and prophetic verse, attributed to the 6th-century poet Taliesin or the mythical figure of Myrddin. Early religious and gnomic verse is also usually anonymous. Where possible examples of each poet's surviving work is presented at Welsh Poetry at Wikisource

Each period of the poets listed below is accompanied by a graphical timeline to illustrate the main events and individuals that influenced the poets and their work. These timelines also depict the development of the Welsh language. Further details of its development may be found at Welsh language.

Pre 6th century


No works by Welsh poets prior to the 6th century have survived. Tradition records:

  • Maelgwyn of Llandaff (c. 450) – said, according to one source, to have written of Joseph of Arimathea's burial at Glastonbury.[1] However, in the mid-5th century he would have spoken Brythonic, not Welsh, and as a monk would probably have written in Latin. His existence is doubtful.
  • St. Meugan (fl. c. late 5th century) – possibly a court poet to Cadwallon of Gwynedd

6th century to 1100




The bulk of surviving verse from the period known as "Canu'r Bwlch" is anonymous.(see Wikisource)

The works of the following poets, belonging to the Hengerdd or Cynfeirdd period, are extant and accepted as probably genuine:

The following works are probably apocryphal:

Non-extant or doubtful


Four others are named by Nennius as poets of renown alongside Taliesin and Aneirin:

  • Arofan (7th century)
  • Cuhelyn the Bard [cy] (?9th century) – referred to in several poems but otherwise unknown. None of his work survives. The earliest reference to him is in a text [1] (English version) found in the Black Book Of Carmarthen. However, a later charter of Sir Nicholas FitzMartin, Marcher Lord of Kemes, off-handedly describes someone as his descendant; the charter grants the supposed descendant land in the Preseli Hills.[3][4]
  • Bleheris (?11th century) – an otherwise unknown poet of doubtful authenticity referred to as "born and bred in Wales" in Gawain and as a source for the story.[5]


  • Myrddin ab Morfryn – was believed by some to be an historical person who died in AD 570, but is now accepted as a mythical figure (see Merlin).[6]


Middle Welsh languageOld Welsh languageLlywarch HenTaliesinAneirin

1100 to 1290


The following group of court poets used to be called the Gogynfeirdd and are now generally referred to as "Beirdd y Tywysogion", the Poets of the Princes. The list is roughly chronological.

Timeline of major poets

Early Modern WelshMiddle Welsh languageGruffudd ab Yr Ynad CochDafydd BenfrasCynddelw Brydydd MawrOwain ap GruffyddGwalchmai ap MeilyrMeilyr Brydydd

1290 to c.1500


The poets of this period are known as Beirdd yr Uchelwyr. The list is fairly chronological but not exhaustive as the work of some minor poets of the late 15th and 16th centuries remains in manuscript and a large corpus of late medieval Darogan, prophetic verse, is anonymous or attributed to early poets. Traditional patronage dwindled in the late 16th century but a handful of bards still received patronage from the gentry into the 17th century. Free verse by individuals composing "freelance" gradually took over from the mid-16th century onwards.

Timeline of major poets

Early Modern Welsh languageGwerful MechainDafydd NanmorDafydd ab Edmwnd (fl. c. 1450–97)Lewys Glyn CothiDafydd Llwyd o FathafarnSiôn CentLlywelyn Goch ap Meurig HenRhys Goch EryriIolo GochDafydd ap Gwilym

16th century


Most of the earlier poets here are very much in the Beirdd yr Uchelwyr tradition. Traditional patronage dwindled in the late 16th century but a handful of bards still received patronage from the gentry into the 17th century. Free verse by individuals composing "freelance" gradually took over from the mid-16th century onwards. The free verse and strict metre poets sit rather uneasily together in this list.

Timeline of major poets

Wiliam CynwalRhys PrichardEdmwnd PrysSt. Richard GwynSiôn TudurLewys Morgannwg

See also



  1. ^ "St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury", Theo Brown, Folklore, Vol. 57, No.2, 1946.
  2. ^ Sir Ifor Williams, 'Beginnings of Welsh Poetry', University of Wales Press, Second Revised Edition,1980
  3. ^ Baronia de Kemeys. From the original documents at Bronwydd., Sir Thomas Davies Lloyd (Bt.), London, 1862, p.48
  4. ^ An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, 1914, Volume 4, p 276
  5. ^ Bleheris "J. L. Weston, From Ritual to Romance, Cambridge University Press 1920"
  6. ^ Myrddin "A.O.H. Jarman, 'A oedd Myrddin yn Fardd Hanesyddol?', (Studia Celtica 1976)
  7. ^ J Lloyd-Jones, 'The Court Poets of the Welsh Princes', Proceedings of the British Academy, 1948
  8. ^ Gwaith Tudur Aled, Thomas Gwynn Jones (ed.), (Cardiff, 1926).
  9. ^ Andrew Breeze, 'Two bardic themes: the Virgin and Child, and Ave-Eva', Medium Aevum, Vol. 63, 1994
  10. ^ 'Llanarthney – Llanbedrog', A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1849), pp. 478–93. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47842
  11. ^ Islwyn Jones (ed.), Gwaith Hywel Cilan (Caerdydd, 1963)
  12. ^ Owen Thomas, 'Gwaith Dafydd Epynt', Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, 2002
  13. ^ "Dafydd ap Ieuan Llwyd". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  14. ^ Looker, Ray (Mrs Ray Morgan). "Morus Dwyfech, or Mours ap Dafydd ab Ifan ab Einion". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Retrieved December 18, 2016. His will, in the form of a poem, expressed the poet's desire to be buried at Penllech, and, from the elegies composed to him by Siôn Phylip and Huw Pennant, it is evident that his wish was granted.
  15. ^ Rhiannon Ifans, 'Gwaith Syr Dafydd Trefor', Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, 2006
  16. ^ Catholic Online Saints: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4599
  17. ^ a b (Peniarth Manuscript. 287)
  18. ^ (NLW MS. (1553) Llanst. MSS. (123, 125, and 133)
  19. ^ (N.L.W. MSS. 695)
  20. ^ (B.M. Add. MS. 14906)
  21. ^ (Mostyn MS 144)