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Llys Owain Glyndwr yn Sycharth.
Court of Owain Glyndwr in Sycharth.

Having come across this poem in Welsh many years ago I have always wanted to translate it so that I could have some further understanding of Owain Glyndwr. The poem is by Iolo Goch, who lived c. 1320 to c. 1398, at 78 a very great age for a person of this era.

My Welsh dictionary was of little use but now I have come across an excellent book by Dafydd Johnston, who, with help from others, has produced an interpretation of all 39 surviving poems by Iolo Goch (Iolo the red). I have used his interpretation above.

It would seem that photos of the location of Sycharth, amounting in the main of the mound upon which the “house” was built tells little of the extent of the accommodation, which appears to have included shops and other accommodations. Thus the interpretation of a poem written in such a descriptive language gives an insight into life at that time.


Addewais yt hyn ddwywaith, I have promised twice before now,
Addewid teg, addo taith;. fair promise, promising a journey;
Taled bawb, tal hyd y bo, let everyone fulfill, as much as is due,
Ei addewid a addawo. his promise which he promises.
Pererindawd, ffawd ffyddlawn, A very great pilgrmage,
Perwyl mor annwyl mawr iawn, certain prosperity, such a dear destination,
Myned, eidduned oddain, is going, swift promise,
Lles yw, tua llys Owain. It is beneficial, towards Owain's court;
Yn oddain yno ydd af, swiftly will I go there,
Nid drwg, yno y trigaf not bad, there will I dwell
I gymryd i'm bywyd barch to bring honour into my life
Gydag ef o gydgyfarch; by exchanging greetings with him;
Fo all fy naf, uchaf ach, my leige can, highest lineage,
Eurben clear, erbyn cleiriach; bright golden head, receive an old codger;
Clod bod, cyd boed alusen, it is praiseworthy, though it is but alms,
Ddiwarth hwyl, yn dda wrth hen. Course without shame, to be kind to the old.
I'w lys ar ddyfrys ydd af, I will go to his court in haste,
O'r deucant odidocaf;. The most splendid of the two hundred;
Llys barwn, lle syberwyd, a baron's court, place of refinement,
Lle daw beirdd aml, lle da byd. Where many poets come, place of the good life;
Gwawr Bowys fawr, beues Faig, queen of great Powys, Maig's land,
Gofuned gwiw ofynaig. promise of good hope.
Llyna'r modd a'r llun y mae: This is its manner and its form
Mewn eurgylch dwfr mewn argae. In the bright circle of water within an embankment:
(Pand da'r llys?) pont ar y llyn, (isn't the court fine?) a bridge on the lake,
Ac unporth lle'r ai ganpyn; and one gate through which would go a hundred loads;
Cyplau sydd, gwaith cwplws ynt, there are couples, they are couple work,
Cwpledig pob cwpl ydynt. every couple is coupled together;
Clochdy Padrig, Ffrengig ffrwyth, Patrick's bell house, French fruit,
Clostr Wesmustr, clostir emswyth; the cloister of Westminster, comfortable enclosure;
Cynglynrhwym pob congl unrhyw, each corner is bound together in the same way,
Cangell aur, cygan oll yw. golden chancel, it is entirely symmetrical,
Cynglynion yn y fronfron fry, bonds side by side above,
Dordor megis daeardy, cheek-to-cheek like an earth house,
A phob un fal llun llyngwlm and every one looking like a tight knot
Sydd yn ei gilydd yn gwlm. Is tied fast to the next one,
Tai nawplad fold deunawplas, nine-plated buildings on the scale of eighteen mansions,
Tai pren glan mewn top bryn glas; fair wooden buildings on top of a green hill;
Ar bedwar piler eres on four wonderful pillars
Mae'i lys ef i nef yn nes. his court is nearer to heaven;
Ar ben pob piler pren praff, on top of each stout wooden pillar
Llofft ar dalgrofft adeilgraff, a loft built firmly on the summit of a croft,
A'r pedair llofft, o hoffter, and the four lofts of loveliness
Yn gydgwplws lle cwag cler. coupled together where poets sleep;
Aeth y pedair disgleirlofft, the four bright lofts turned,
Nyth lwyth teg iawn, yn wyth lofft; a very fair nest load, into eight lofts;
To teils ar bob ty talwg, a tiled roof on every house with frowning forehead,
A simnai lle magai'r mwg. And a chimney from which the smoke would grow;
Naw neuadd gyfladd gyflun, nine symmetrical identical halls,
A naw gwardrob ar bob un. and nine wardrobes by each one,
Siopau glan, glwys cynnwys cain, bright fair shops with fine contents,
Siop lawndeg fal Siep Lundain. a lovely full shop like London's Cheapside;
Croes eglwys gylchlwys galchliw, a cross-shaped church with a fair chalk-coloured exterior
Capelau a gwydrau gwiw; chapels with splendid glass windows;
Popty llawn poptu I'r llys, a full bakehouse on every side of the court,
Perllan, gwinllan, ger gwenllys, an orchard, a vineyard by a white court;
Melin deg ar ddifreg ddwr; a lovely mill on flowing water,
A'i glomendy gloyw maendwr. and his dovecot with bright stone tower;
Pysgodlyn, cudduglyn cau, a fishpond, hollow enclosure,
A fo rhaid i fwrw heyday what is needed to cast nets;
Amlaf lle, nid er ymliw, place most abounding, not for dispute;
Penhwyaid a gwyniaid gwiw. In pike and fine sewin,
A'I dir bwrdd a'i adar byw, and his bord-land and his live birds,
Peunod, crehyrod hoywryw, peacocks, splendid herons;
Dolydd glan gwyran a gwair, bright meadows of grass and hay,
Ydau mewn caeau cywair, corn in well-kept fields,
Parc cwning ein por cenedl, the rabbit park of our patriarch,
Erydr a meirch hydr, mawr chwedl; ploughs and sturdy horses, great words;
Gerllaw'r llys, gorlliwio'r llall, by the court, outshining the other,
Y pawr ceirw mewn parc arall; stags graze in another park;
Ei gaith a wna pob gwaith gwiw, his serfs perform all fitting tasks,
Cyfreidiau cyfair ydiw, those are the necessities of an estate,
Dwyn blaendrwyth cwrw Amwythig, bringing the best brew of beer from Shrewsbury,
Gwirodau, bragodau brig, liquors of foaming bragget,
Pob llyn, bara gwyn a gwin, every drink, white bread and wine,
A'I gig, a'i dan i'w gegin; and his meat and his fire for his kitchen;
Pebyll y beirdd pawb lle bo, shelter of poets, everyone wherever he be,
Pe beunydd caiff pawb yno; were it daily, he will have everyone there,
Tecaf llys bren, pen heb bai, loveliest wooden court, chief without fault,
O‘r deyrnas, nawdd Duw arnai;. of the kingdom, may god protect it,
A awraig orau o'r garaged and the best woman of all women,
Gwyn fy myd o'i gwin a'i medd! blessed am I by her wine and her mead!
Merch eglur llin marchoglyw, Fair girl from the line of a knightly ruler,
Urddol hael anianol yw;. she is dignified and noble by nature;
A'i blant a ddeuant bob ddau, and his children come in pairs,
Nythaid teg o beneath. a fine nestful of chieftains.
Anfynych iawn fu yno Very rarely was bolt or lock
Weled na chlicied na chlo, to be seen there,
Na phorthoriaeth ni wnaeth neb, nor did anyone act as porter;
Ni bydd eisiau budd oseb, there will be no want, beneficial gift,
Na gwall, na newyn, na gwarth, nor lack not hunger nor shame,
Na syched fyth yn Sycharth. Nor ever thirst in Sycharth.
Gorau Cymro, tro trylew The best Welshman, valorous feat,
Piau'r wlad, lin Pywer Lew, owns the country, of Pywer Lew's line,
Gwr meingryf, gorau mangre, slender strong man, best spot,
A phial'r llys; hoff yw'r lle. and owns the court, splendid is the place.