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Llys Owain Glyndŵr (The court of Owain)

A poem by Iolo Goch

An oft-quoted source is a poem known as ‘Llys Owain Glyndwr’, one of three poems written by the bard Iolo Goch in praise of Owain, which names the llys as Sycharth.

Iolo Goch (c. 1320 – c. 1398), (meaning Iolo the Red in English), was born in the manor of Lleweni in the Vale of Clwyd. He is notable as one of the finest exponents of the metrical form known as the cywydd. He composed poems to a number of Welsh noblemen, notably to his chief patron Ithel ap Robert, an archdeacon of St Asaph who lived near Caerwys, and also a poem to King Edward III of England, which shows a detailed knowledge of places and battles in England, Ireland and France during this period and possibly written in 1347. He also composed a notable poem known as Y Llafurwr ("The Labourer").

The poem to Sycharth, clearly composed before the rebellion, exists in 24 manuscripts, of which Dr Dafydd Johnston believes British Library 23 and British Library 24, both from the early 16th century, to be the most reliable.

Llys barwn, lle syberwyd,Baron’s palace, place of generosity,
Lle daw beirdd aml, lle da byd; Where the bards come often, a good place
Gwawr Bowys fawr, beues Faig, Lady of great Powys, land of Maig,
Gofuned gwiw ofynaig. A place of great promise.
Llyna’r modd a’r llun y mae Behold the way in which it appears
Mewn eurgylch dwfr mewn argae: Within a ring of bright water within a moat:
(Pand da’r llys?) pont ar y llyn, (Is it not a good llys?), a bridge on the lake,
Ac unporth lle’r ai ganpyn; And one gate where the multitudes go;
Cyplau sydd, gwaith cwplws ŷnt, The roof-beams joined,
Cwpledig pob cwpl ydynt; Each one together;
Clochdy Padrig, Ffrengig ffrwyth, Tower of St Patrick’s (cathedral), excellent work,
Clostr Westmustr, clostir esmwyth; Cloister of Westminster, a pleasant cloister;
Cynglynrhwym pob congl unrhyw, The arches springing from every corner,
Cangell aur, cyngan oll yw; A golden chancel, all complete.
Cynglynion yn fronfron fry, Connected side by side,
Dordor megis deardy, Side by side like houses of earth,
A phob un fal llun llyngwlm And each one the same type of tight knot
Sydd yn ei gilydd yn gwlm; All tightly together;
Tai nawplad fold deunawplas, The nine chambers in one plas,
Tai pren glân mewn top bryn glas; Fine timber houses on a green hill;
Ar bedwar piler eres With four wondrous timber posts
Mae’i lys ef i nef yn nes; His llys is near the heavens;
Ar ben pob piler pren praff On each stout timber post
Llofft ar dalgrofft adeilgraff, A lofty bedchamber cunningly built,
A’r pedair llofft o hoffter, And the four bedchambers pleasantly
Yn gydgwplws lle cwsg clêr; Under the same beams, where the bards sleep;
Aeth y pedair disgleirlofft, The four high chambers form,
Nyth lwyth teg iawn, yn wyth loft; Quarters for a fine tribe, eight rooms;
To teils ar bob tŷ talwg, A slated roof on every tall (frowning) tower,
A simnai lle magai’r fwg. And a chimney that draws the smoke.
Naw neuadd gyfladd gyflun, Nine halls of the same shape and size,
A naw gwardrob ar bob un, And nine dressing-chambers for the use of each one.
Siopau glân glwys cynnwys cain, Like splendid shops full of fine merchandise,
Siop lawndeg fal Siêp Lundain; Full and fair, like London’s Cheapside;
Croes eglwys gylchlwys galchliw, A church cross limewashed all over,
Capelau â gwydrau gwiw; Chapels with windows of stained glass;
Popty llawn poptu i’r llys, A full oven serves the llys,
Perllan, gwinllan ger gwenllys; An orchard, a vineyard near the white court;
Melin deg ar ddifreg ddŵr, A fair mill on a constant stream
A’i golomendy gloyw maendwr; And his shining dove-cot, a stone tower;
Pysgodlyn, cudduglyn cau, A fish-pond, well sheltered,
A fo rhaid i fwrw rhwydau; On which to throw the nets;
Amlaf lle, nid yr ymliw, Well stocked, with no doubt,
Penhwyaid a gwyniaid gwiw, With herrings and whiteheads as is seemly,
A’i dir bwrdd a’i adar byw, His bord-land and his living birds,
Peunod, crehyrod hoywryw; Peacocks, cranes of the best breed;
Dolydd glân gwyran a gwair, Fair green hay-meadows,
Ydau mewn caeau cywair, Corn in orderly fields,
Parc cwning ein pôr cenedl, The rabbit-warren of the lord of our nation,
Erydr a meirch hydr, mawr chwedl; Tackle and horses of renown
Gerllaw’r llys, gorlliwio'r llall, By the llys, complementing each other,
Y pawr ceirw mewn parc arall; The deer-pasture in another enclosure;
Ei gaith a wna bob gwaith gwiw, His servants carry out every fit task,
Cyfreidiau cyfar ydiw, Ploughing together,
Dwyn blaendrwyth cwrw Amwythig, Quaffing the best Oswestry ale,
Gwirodau bragodau brig, The best drink and braggets,
Pob llyn, bara gwyn a gwin, Every drink, white bread and wine,
A’i gig, a’i dân i’w gegin; And his meat, and his fire for the kitchen.
Pebyll y beirdd, pawb lle bo, Shelter for the bards, withersoever they come,
Pe beunydd, caiff pawb yno; Every day, all may have there;
Tecaf llys bren, pen heb bai, Fairest timber llys, blameless lord,
O’r deyrnas, nawdd Duw arnai; Of the kingdom, God’s blessing on it;
A gwraig orau o’r gwragedd, And the best of wives,
Gwyn fy myd o’i gwin a’i medd! Blessed am I in her wine and mead!
Merch eglur llin marchoglyw, A fine lady of knightly line,
Urddol hael anional yw; Most generous by nature;
A’i blant a ddeuant bob ddau, Her children come in two by two,
Nythaid teg o benaethau. A beautiful nest of chieftains.
Anfynych iawn fu yno Very seldom was there
Weled na chlicied na chlo, A clicket or lock to be seen,
Na phorthoriaeth ni wnaeth neb, Nor surly porter,
Ni bydd eisiau, budd oseb, Nor will there be need, thanks to him,
Na gwall na newyn, na gwarth, No want or hunger or shame,
Na syched fyth yn Sycharth. Or thirst will ever be in Sycharth.
Gorau Cymro, tro trylew The best of Welshmen, most strong
Piau'r wlad, lin Pywer Lew, Holds this land, of the line of Pywer Lew,
Gŵr meingryf, gorau mangre, A man of strong countenance, the best place,
A phiau’r llys; hoff yw’r lle. Holds the llys; a fair place it is.

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