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Gruffydd was more heroic, and it brought the princes, and to have aimed at deforth more numerous and more musical veloping a literature unconnected with poets. When Owen Gwynedd baffled the politics. They met in three famous eisattempts of Henry II., his praises were teddfods, and it was soon apparent that sung by many poets besides Gwalchmai the spent strength of the struggle for and Cynddelw. His ally, Rhys ab Gruffydd, independence was revived in a passionate was celebrated by his poets Seisyll and love for all that was beautiful in the the White Bard of Brecon. Two princes Wales of the time. were poets as well as leaders of arinies,
Among a bright host of poets, Rhys -Howel ab Owen Gwynedd, and Owen
Goch stands pre-eminent for his descripCyfeiliog, the accomplished and patriotic tions of the beauty of Glamorgan, and prince of Powys.
Dafydd Nanmor for his charming and Cynddelw lived to join the host of poets pure descriptions of women. The most who sang of the victories and of the power
famous of all is Dafydd ab Gwilym, reof Llywelyn the Great. And among these presenting all the elements of the Golden there was at least one, - Dafydd Benfras, Age,-pathos and naturalness, love of --who was among the still greater number woman's beauty and a still more passionof the poets who thronged into the court ate delight in the beauty of nature, artistic of the last Llywelyn. There is a tradition, delight in colour and a wide sympathy —the shadow of later legislation thrown which gives wisdom to his counsels and back upon Edward's time,—that the con- geniality to his satire. queror caused the Welsh bards to be
While Dafydd ab Gwilym was gathering massacred. It is true that the conquest all flowers to lay on golden Ivor's tomb, caused literary stagnation for nearly half
younger poets and students were flocking a century, and Gruffydd ab yr Ynad Coch under the banner of Owen Glendower. (Gruffydd the son of the Red Justice) Love and beauty were still sung, but litmourned, a lonely figure between the two
erature became more earnest and into periods, the fall of the last Llywelyn.
closer connection with the political and The conquest of Wales put an end to
social problems of the time. With Iolo Welsh prose as well as to Welsh poetry. Goch, the poetry of the Golden Age beBrut y Tywysogion, written at Aber
comes martial again. Iolo sings the praises Conway or Strata Florida, is brought to
of Owen Glendower, and, like conteman abrupt end in 1282.
porary English poets, idealises the labourer
and describes the plough. The golden period of Welsh lit With the death of Owen Glendower, erature corresponds to the iron
Welsh poetry again lost its martial charperiod of its history. Immediate acter, and an attempt was made at return
Īy after the conquest, Welsh lit- ing to the love poetry of Dafydd ab erature seemed to be extinct. For many Gwilym. But the old naturalness was gone, years there was but the solitary figure and it was in vain that Dafydd ab of old bard bewailing the fall of Edmund, in the Carmarthen eisteddfod of Llywelyn. The insurrections during the 1451, tried to revise poetry by enforcing latter part of the thirteenth century,—the a code of rigid laws of alliteration. Early last flickerings of Weish independence, in the fifteenth century the last unmistakbrought a bard or two, but the bards be- able notes of the Golden Age were struck caine silent as rebellion after rebellion was by Tudur Aled, one of the greatest and crushed.
the last of the poets of medieval Wales. Suddenly a new note was heard. The The Golden Period is characterised by love song took the place of the war song, intensity and by variety. During the and descriptions of the beauty of nature poetical life of Dafydd ab Gwilym there take the place of the descriptions of the was an outburst of song that, for the courts the princes. The poets seem, for intensity of delight in all earthly beauty, a moment, to have become separated from has never been equalled in the literature
of Wales. Birds, flowers, and beautiful still tinged with poetic eloquence, the women take the place of priests and Welsh Bible was translated. knights. The poet no longer lingers over battle-scenes over the death-scenes
After the accession of the Tudors of princes, he is watching the mountain
a great change comes over Welsh mist, or the mornirglark, or the sea
literature. It begins anew, its gull “like a lily bathed in dew.” His
poets seems to belong to a wholly differhours of prayer are no longer spent in a ent race. The ease and melody and monastery, he describes the grander mon grandeur have disappeared; and we are ilstery of the forest. The delight in the among minor poets who are trying to beauty of nature was, perhaps, too intense manufacture poetry with infinite labour', to last; but it produced descriptions of slavishly observing the elaborate rules laid nature and of woman's beauty that are down by their greater and nobler prethe glory of the literature of mediæval decessors. Occasionally the description of Wales.
nature, by the sheer exhaustiveness of As the Golden Period is characterised
minute painting, rises into poetry; but the by intensity while at its best, it is char
successors of Tudur Aled and Gruffudd acterised by variety during its rise, and Hiraethog abound in common-places, in especially during its decline. The exquis- redundancies, and in exceedingly prosaic itely tender love-poems of Dafydd Nanmor descriptions,—dulness long drawn out in and the stirring war odes of Gruffydd order to satisfy the inexorable rules of
alliteration. Llwyd, the ruggedness of the northern Rhys Goch and the melody of the southern, A new class had taken possession of the boisterous horse-play of Guto'r Glyn Welsh literature. The higher classes had and the polished satire of Lewis Glyn Cothi, been drawn, by the Tudor policy, into the the licentiousness of Madog Dwygraig literary as well as into the political life and the religious earnestness of Sion Cent, of England. In higher and official circles,
we find them all during a short but Welsh literature was as much discouraged very prolific period.
as it had been encouraged before. A The accession of the Tudors and their
Welsh poet complains that there is no attempts at Anglicising Wales precipitated henceforth the delight in Welsh poetry
worldly reward for him in the new times, the decline of the Golden Period. Tudur
must be its own reward.
The higher Aled is the last great figure of the age of true poetry: We find him at the
classes were amply rewarded for their de
sertion of the literature of their own Caerwys eisteddfod of 1524, but if his poems showed that an age of giants had
country,--they saw the Welsh soldier and
the Welsh gentleman honoured in English gone, most of the poets who surrounded
literature, they saw Lear anıl the radiant him showed that an age of dwarfs was
Cymbeline and Owen Glendower described coming. There were sure signs of decline. One was the elaboration of alliterative
by the greatest of English dramatists. rules, now so complicated that technical The Welsh people, unable to understand skill inevitably took the place of the old the language of their rulers and deserted naturalness. Another sign of decline was
by their own leaders, began to develope the appearance of grammars and diction a new literature of their own. aries,-invariably the products of a declin
literature rose under two intluences,--that ing age. Still another was the presence
of earlier Welsh literature, and that of of the satirist,—the satirical triads mostly contemporary English literature. belong to the degenerating time. One The influence of the poetry of the Golden other sign of decline I might mention, Age was great and lasting. It is true that the perfection of prose style. The poetry little of it was printed; but every poet of the Golden Period was developing, or made a copy, for his own use, of some of degenerating, into prose. In the middle of
In the middle of the most famous odes of Dafydd ab Gwilym this development, while prose style was and his immediate successors. At the end
of his book of treasures, the peasant poet, It would be unjust, however, to regard with becoming modesty, wrote feeble im the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries itations of his own. The poets of the or centuries of no originality. It was a sixteenth and seventeenth centuries suc- period of translation, of apprenticeship; , cessfully imitated the form of the older but it often strikes a note prophetic of poetry, but it was at rare intervals that the period that is to follow. "Sion Tudur à poet like Huw Morus caught echoes of describes contemporary Elizabethan life, their music. It was only once perhaps, and may almost be regarded as the first and that on the eve of the new period, student of the life of Wales in all its that their grandeur is found, -in Goronwy aspects; Rees Prichard, ignoring the beauty Owen.
of the literary languaye that had been the The influence of contemporary
language of the prince and his poet, The Period English literature was still greater.
wrote living verses in the dialect of the Translations. Educated Welshmen pitied the
vale of Towy; Edward Morris, followed by
Edward Richard and William Wynn, ignorance and superstition of their
threw aside the fetters of alliteration, and countrymen; and, during the whole of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the
wrote poems which are hardly equalled, popular pious books of England were
even in the Period of Awakening, for translated into Welsh, very often into melody and grace. perfect Welsh prose. In Elizabethan times, During the period of translations the in addition to the Bible and the English influence of Welsh literature on England Book of Common Prayer, Bishop Jewel's was slight as compared with the mighty Apology for the Church of England was
influence of Welsh mediaval literature; translated by Morus Cyffin. In Puritan still George Herbert helped to give Engtimes Rowland Vaughan translated Bishoplish thought the religious meditation which Bailey's Practice of Piety. And when is so characteristic of Wales, and Henry Puritanism had been driven from power, Vaughan did much to call the attention Stephen Hughes gave Welshmen Bunyan's of Englishmen to a beauty they had not Pilgrim's Progress.
yet seen,—the beauty of wild nature. One characteristic of the period of trans
When the eighteenth century was lations is the unbroken decline of the old
about half way through, there alliterative Welsh poetry.
The bards of
were unmistakable signs of a the second eisteddfod of Caerwys, 1568,
new life in Wales. The desire had something of the old grace; the poets of
for education was shown by the numbers the seventeenth century could make their
who crowded into Griffidd Jones' evening alliterative lines exceedingly musical; but, schools. The "awakening," as it is titly by the middle of the eighteenth centurycalled, first took a literary form. Dr. W. the alliterative poetry had sunk to the
0. Pughe made educated Welshmen revere lowest depths of prosaic bathos, and the
their own language. Owen Myfyr spent only characteristics of a bard were a know his hardly-won fortune in collecting Welsh ledge of alliterative rules and beautiful manuscripts. Lewis Morris appealed to penmanship. At the same time, as is al the people, now awake to the beauty of ways the case, prose style was rapidly
With Twm or Nant, barns developing, and, it reached its perfection
were turned into theatres, and Welsh litin Theophilus Evans' Mirror of the Chief erature seemed to be on the point of deAges, and in Ellis Wyn's Bard of Sleep. veloping into the drama. Prose at the beginning of the seventeenth But there was another and a mightier century, in Charles Edwards' History of the element. A religious revival, of unexUnfeigned Faith and Morgan Llwyd's Book ampled fervour, had followed Howell of the Three Birds, is poetical and elo Harris' steps. Charles of Bala organised quent, often obscure from
excess of a Sunday school system. So theology beimagination; at the end of the century it came the most important part of the reis terse, clear, and picturesque.
vived and regenerated thought of Wales.
It was at first austere and uninviting, but In Ceiriog, it is pure as the dew, it is the the burning desire for salvation made men idealisation of a shepherd's life, brimful pore patiently over bulky“bodies of of tenderness and with the grace of its divinity” and endless theological magazine fashion wonderfully perfect. It reflects literature. The discussion of divinity faithfully the Welsh adoration of woman, doctrines, carried on enthusiastically in the unending delight in the grandeur of the the Sunday schools and during leisure mountains and the beauty of the vales, and hours, gave exactly the same training as the vigorous striving after higher ideals. the study of Formal Logic would have It is worth noticing that the education of given.
Wales was the subject in which the most Before long these two elements,—the lit
characteristic Welsh poet took greatest erary and the theological,-- were united. • interest. The beauty of the one was added to the Islwyn is an equally gooil representative strength of the other. Theology was turn of modern Welsh literature, but in its ed into poetry by preacher and hymn more meditative aspects. Islwyn spent his writer: it ceased to be mere definitions, it life among the low hills of western Monwas given life.
mouthshire; he is as natural as Ceiriog, his The hymn was at first very religious love of Wales is as intense, but the underand very wooden; but its development, current of sadness is nearer the surface. under the influence of the passion of a
He is maturer, more thoughtful, representpeople naturally literary, was very rapid, ing Welsh thought more in its religious Williams of Pant y Celyn, a farmer in the than in its literary aspect. These modern Vale of Towy, threw into hunilreds of poets have the grace of the poetry of the hymns the religious experience of one who
Golden Period, but with a strength of had an insatiable curiosity, and a poet's thought and comprehensiveness of vision delight in beauty, as well as the felvour that are not to be discovered in our mediaof conviction. Ann Griffiths, a Mont
val literature. gomeryshire farm girl who died young,
Whether there are greater poets to coine, composed hynins that are, perhaps, un
it is difficult to predict. Judging from what equalled for their melody and poetic
we know of the history of the thought thoughtfulness. Many others took some Biblical truth as the subject of hymns Welsh prose is developing into the novel,
of other nations, it seems probable that which, owing to their poetic beauty, will live as long as there is one man to speak have seen the rise of the consciousness
and Welsh poetry into the drama. the Welsh language.
of national unity,--this may be representWhen we come to the beginning of this ed before long in a Novel that will decentury, the poets become exceedingly scribe for all ages what the life of Wales numerous; and it is impossible, in an out is, and in a Drama that will need the line sketch, to mention even the most im union of the genius of lyric Glasynys with portant of them. The two best represent that of dramatic Hiraethog. In Welsh atives are, perhaps, Ceiriog and Islwyn. literature there are plenty of the elements Ceiriog, the bard of the Berwyn, represents of the greatest literature. It will be the the naturalness of modern Welsh poetry. work of the future to combine them.
D. Brynmor Jones, Q.C., M.P. The English laws relating to Wales, from the Statute of Rhuddlan on, will be given, either at length or in an exhaustive summary:
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