Dafydd ap Gwilym
Prolific 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym is considered by many to be one of the greatest Welsh-language poets. Though what is most of what is known about his life is gathered from his poetry, it is thought that he was born in the village of Brogynin, Penrhyncoch, Wales, to an aristocratic family, and that during his life he traveled throughout Wales. He was buried at Strata Florida.
Trained in the Welsh bardic tradition, Dafydd ap Gwilym wrote predominantly in rhymed couplets, with the compound expressions and complex syntax that mark medieval Welsh poetry. His poems feature variations on the cynghanedd, a Welsh form using consonantal echo, and often rhyme, within the unit of the line. Many of his poems praise wealthy patrons, in keeping with the Welsh “Poets of the Princes” tradition.
After mastering traditional Welsh techniques, ap Gwilym diverged from his peers in several notable ways. Unlike most medieval poets, ap Gwilym often wrote poems concerned with events in his own life. It is thought that in his travels he encountered French poetry of love and nature, and embraced those themes as his own. His poetry, notable for its vivid imagery, is at turns erotic, comic, and thoughtful in its exploration of love and the natural world.
A collaborative online translation project of Dafydd ap Gwilym’s work was begun in 2001 by Dafydd Johnson and Daniel Huws. From 2002 to 2006 Johnson led an expanded team composed of Huw Meirion Edwards, Dylan Foster Evans, and A. Cynfael Lake in producing a new online edition of 170 Dafydd ap Gwilym poems. Their digital critical edition can be found at www.dafyddapgwilym.net.