Canu Heledd

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Cynddylan (fl. c. 606—651) king in Wales



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[W, the song of Heledd].

One of the longest and most unified of the early (9th or 10th cent.) narrative known as englynion, the oldest recorded Welsh metrical form. The central character and narrator is Heledd, the last surviving member of the royal house of Powys, who laments the passing of the kingdom, especially of King Cynddylan, who reigned in the early 7th century. Several commentators have posited the existence of an earlier version, which the anonymous author of the present text applied to the still lamentable conditions two centuries later. A lost text might explain why Heledd blames herself for the fall of Cynddylan's court at Pengwern in Powys. The character of Heledd may be a renewed instance of the Celtic perception that the land is personified by a goddess. The central poem of the cycle, Stafell Cynddylan [Cynddylan's Hall] is especially resonant. Ifor Williams included the text, with notes, in Canu Llywarch Hen (Cardiff, 1935). See also Jenny Rowland, Early Welsh Saga Poetry (Cambridge, 1990).

Subjects: Religion.

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