owain
Elegy





Some years ago I translated the 'Marwnat (Elegy or Death Song) to Owein'
for a few friends who use it once a year on a special occasion,
as they found the usual versions somewhat stilted in places
with the odd mistake in interpreting the Middle Welsh.

 'Marwnat' is pronounced Ma-roo-nat.  (Accent on 'roo') 

Here is the Taliesin Poem and my translation.

This is Poem #10 in the Poems of Taliesin
edited by Sir Ifor Williams -
The Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies 1968)

   

Marwnat Owain Ap Urien

Eneit owein ap vrien.
gobwyllit y ren oe reit.
Reget ud ae cud tromlas.

nyt oed vas y gywydeit.
Jscell kerdglyt clotuawr
escyll gawr gwaywawr llifeit.
cany cheffir kystedlyd.
y vd llewenyd llatreit.
Medel galon geueilat.
eissylut y tat ae teit.

Pan ladawd Owein fflamdwyn.
Nyt oed uwy nocet kysceit.
kyscit lloegyr llydan nifer
a leuuer yn eu llygeit.
A rei ny ffoynt hayach.
A oedynt hayach no reit.
Owein ae cospes yn drut
mal cnut yn dylut deueit.

Gwr gwiw uch y amliw seirch.
a rodei veirch y eircheit.
kyt as cronyei mal calet.
ny rannet rac y eneit.
Eneit Owein ap Urien.

           Taliesin




 

Elegy to Owein Ap Urien

Soul of Owein ap Urien -
May his Lord control its need
As The Lord of Rheged lies
 ‘neath the deep sward.

He was judged not too mean
To be praised in song at the evening table
And in the lissome light of dawn,
As none could equal
The resplendent and rapturous Lord -
The cleaver and annihilator of foes
With skills of father and ancestor.

 Since Owein slew the torch-bearer,*
Taking less effort than sleeping,+
The great host of Lloegyr now sleeps
With his light before their eyes.
This host, giving ground a little,
But only as much as they dared,
  By Owein was punished brutally -
As a pack of wolves savages sheep.

A worthy warrior in armour glorious **, he
On every petitioner was the donor of steeds.
Rather than prize his pack ++ like a miser,
He bestowed it for the growth of his own soul -
Soul of Owein ap Urien.

Lloegyr pronounced Chloy - ger (hard ‘ch’ & ‘g’)
 


 

* ‘Fflamdwyn’ is usually treated as a proper
name.  It actually means ‘torch-bearer’ which
makes sense of the host sleeping (in death)
with the slain torch-bearer lighting the gloom.

+ One might say "he could have done
it in his sleep" but I felt I had to stay
with this less ideomatic rendering.

** I have used ‘glorious’ instead of ‘multi-
coloured’ which is a little unwieldy.

++ ‘Hoard’ or ‘wealth’ here is linked with ‘steeds’,
hence my usage of the word ‘pack’ in its place.
 
Copyright ©  Gareth Pengwerin

TALIESIN XXX

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