Cymraeg Europe poetry Wales

visiting Taliesin

August 24, 2019

Dwi’n caru Llyn Tegid. I love Bala Lake. It’s the birthplace of one of my favourite Cymraeg myths that tells the story of the origins of Cymru’s greatest mythic poet, Taliesin. It’s told that a powerful witch, Ceridwen, lived here. In a great cauldron of Awen (inspiration), she made a potion to transform her son into a great shapeshifter, but instead the magic accidentally transferred to a stable boy, Gwion Bach, who was enlisted to stir the potion for a year & a day. When the liquid accidentally spilt onto his hand on the last day, he licked it off & the magic was completed. Ceridwen was furious & set out to kill Gwion Bach. Then follows one of the greatest shapeshifting sequences in Cymraeg myth: Gwion Bach begins to run & transforms into a hare, Ceridwen pursues him in the form of a greyhound; Gwion throws himself into the river as a fish, Ceridwen follows as an otter; Gwion flings himself as a bird into the air, Ceridwen bears down on him as a hawk. Finally he takes the form of a grain of wheat & tumbles into a huge pile of it, Ceridwen transforms into a fat black hen & eats every last grain. 9 months later she gives birth to a beautiful baby boy who she wraps in a leather satchel & floats off downstream (she can no longer kill him but doesn’t want to see him). Later, two Cymraeg princes fish the strange parcel out of the water & the boy immediately begins declaiming poetry. The princes decide to call him Taliesin for his radiant brow. What I love about Taliesin is that he exists both inside & outside of time: he is a myth from the ancient oral Celtic ages but his poetry exists & was copied down by religious scholars in medieval times (which probably explains the god references). These days Llyn Tegid (English speakers renamed it Bala Lake) is a glorious boating lake & I love coming here to swim, to immerse in the poetry of Cymraeg’s past & to be inspired to write poetry.

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