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Welsh poetry

Welsh poetry

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Welsh poetry may refer to poetry in the Welsh language, Anglo-Welsh poetry, or other poetry written in Wales or by Welsh poets. Template:Portalpar



Main Article: Medieval Welsh literature

Wales has one of the earliest literary traditions in Northern Europe, stretching back to the days of Aneirin (fl. 550) and Taliesin (second half of the 6th century), and the haunting Neuadd Cynddylan, which is the oldest recorded literary work by a woman in northern Europe.

In Welsh literature the period before 1100 is known as the period of Y Cynfeirdd ("The earliest poets") or Yr Hengerdd ("The old poetry"). It roughly dates from the birth of the Welsh language from Brythonic to the arrival of the Normans in Wales towards the end of the eleventh century.

From ca.1100 until ca.1600 Welsh poetry can be divided roughly into two distinct periods: the period of the Poets of the Princes (Beirdd y Tywysogion, also called Y Gogynfeirdd) who worked before the loss of Welsh independence in 1282 and the Poets of the Nobility (Beirdd yr Uchelwyr) who worked from 1282 until the period of the English incorporation of Wales in the 16th century.

The earliest poem in English by a Welsh poet dates from about 1470. More recently Anglo-Welsh poetry has become an important aspect of Welsh literary culture, as well as being influential on English literature.

Welsh poets often write under bardic names to conceal their identity in Eisteddfod competitions.

In Wales today unlike many other places, poetry is enjoyed by a mass audience. Poetry competitions are a popular form of entertainment and the leading poets of the nation are both intellectual powerhouses and popular entertainers (imagine an amalgam of Seamus Heaney and Les Dawson).


Since the later Middle Ages, the traditional Welsh poetic metres in strict verse consist of twenty four different metrical forms written in cynghanedd.

An awdl is a form of long poem, similar to the ode. The most popular metrical forms are the Cywydd, of 14th century origin, and the several versions of the Englyn, a concise and allusive verse form similar to the Greek epigram and the Japanese haiku and as old as Welsh literature itself.

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