The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, Vol. I., ed. by J. Williams Ab Ithel, , at sacred-texts.com
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Here is the Book of Bardism, that is to say, the Druidism of the Bards of the Isle of Britain, which I, Llywelyn Sion 1 of Llangewydd, extracted from old Books, namely, the books of Einion the Priest, 2 Taliesin, the Chief of Bards, 3 Davydd Ddu of Hiraddug, 4 Cwtta Cyvarwydd, 5 Jonas of Menevia, 6 Edeyrn the Golden-tongued, 7 Sion Cent, 8 Rhys Goch, 9 and others, in the Library of Rhaglan, by permission of the lord William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, 10 to whom God grant that I may prove thankful as long as I live. The first is a Treatise in the form of Question and Answer, by a Bard and his Disciple--the work of Sion Cent, which contains many of the principal subjects of the primitive wisdom, as it existed among the Bards of the Isle of Britain from the age of ages. In this Dialogue, the Disciple first puts the question, and the Bard, his Teacher, answers, and imparts to him information and knowledge. In the second place the Bard examines, and the Disciple answers.
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The second examination.
Q. Prithee, who art thou? and tell me thy history.
A. I am a man in virtue of God's will, and the necessary consequence that follows, for "what God wills must be."
Q. Whence didst thou proceed? and what is thy beginning?
A. I came from the Great World, 1 having my beginning in Annwn. 2
Q. Where art thou now? and how tamest thou to where thou art?
A. I am in the Little World, 1 whither I came, having traversed the circle of Abred, and now I am a man at its termination and extreme limits.
Q. What wert thou before thou didst become a man in the circle of Abred?
A. I was in Annwn the least possible that was capable of life, and the nearest possible to absolute death, and I came in every form, and through every form capable of a body and life, to the state of man along the circle of Abred, where my condition was severe and grievous during the age of ages, ever since I was parted in Annwn from the dead, by the gift of God, and His great generosity, and His unlimited and endless love.
Q. Through how many forms didst thou come? and what happened unto thee?
A. Through every form capable of life, in water, in earth, and in air. And there happened unto me every se-verity, every hardship, every evil, and every suffering, and but little was the goodness and gwynfyd before I became a man.
Q. Thou hast said, that it was in virtue of God's love thou earnest through all these, and didst see and experience all these; tell me how can this take place through the love
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of God? And how many were the signs of the want of love during thy migration in Abred?
A. Gwynvyd cannot be obtained without seeing and knowing every thing, but it is not possible to see and to know every thing without suffering every thing. And there can be no full and perfect love that does not produce those things which are necessary to lead to the knowledge that causes Gwynvyd, for there can be no Gwynvyd without the complete knowledge of every form of existence, and of every evil and good, and of every operation and power and condition of evil and good. And this knowledge cannot be obtained without experience in every form of life, in every incident, in every suffering, in every evil and in every good, so that they may be respectively known one from the other. All this is necessary before there can be Gwynvyd, and there is need of them all before there can be perfect love of God, and there must be perfect love of God before there can be Gwynvyd.
Q. Why are the things, which thou hast mentioned, necessary before there can be Gwynvyd?
A. Because there can be no Gwynvyd without prevailing over evil and death, and every opposition and Cythraul, and they cannot be prevailed over without knowing their species, nature, power, operations, place, and time, and every form and kind of existence which they have, so that all about them may be known, and that they may be avoided, and that wherever they are they may be opposed, 1 counteracted, 2 and overcome, and that we may be cured of them, and be restored from under their effect. And where there is this perfect knowledge, there is perfect liberty, and evil and death cannot be renounced and overcome but where there is perfect liberty; and there can be no Gwynvyd but with God in perfect liberty, and it is in perfect liberty that the circle of Gwynvyd exists.
Q. Why may not perfect knowledge be obtained, without passing through every form of life in Abred?
A. On this account, because there are no two forms
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alike, and every form has a use, a suffering, a knowledge, an intelligence, a gwynvyd, a quality, an operation, and an impulse, the like and complete uniformity of which can not be had in any other form of existence. And as there is a special knowledge in each form of existence, which cannot be had in another, it is necessary that we should go through every form of existence, before we can acquire every form and species of knowledge and understanding, and consequently renounce all evil, and attach ourselves to every gwynvyd.
Q. How many forms of existence are there? and what is the use of them?
A. As many as God saw necessary towards the investigation and knowledge of every species and quality in good and evil, that there might be nothing, capable of being known and conceived by God, without being experienced, and consequently known. And in whatsoever thing there may be a knowledge of good and evil, and of the nature of life and death, there is a form of existence which corresponds with the attainment of the knowledge required. Therefore, the number of the kinds and modes of forms of existence is the sum that could conceive and understand with a view to perfect goodness, knowledge, and gwynvyd. And God caused that every living and animate being should pass through every form and species of existence endued with life, so that in the end every living and animate being might have perfect knowledge, life, and gwynvyd; and all this from the perfect love of God, which in virtue of His Divine nature He could not but exhibit towards man and every living being.
Q. Art thou of opinion that every living being shall attain to the circle of Gwynvyd at last?
A. That is my opinion, for less could not have happened from the infinite love of God, God being able to cause, knowing the manner how to cause, and continually willing every thing to exist that can be conceived and sought in
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[paragraph continues] His own love, and in the desire of every animation whilst opposed to evil and death.
Q. When will this condition happen to every living being, and in what manner will occur the end of the life of Abred.?
A. Every living and animate being shall traverse the circle of Abred from the depth of Annwn, that is, the extreme limits of what is low in every existence endued with life; and they shall ascend higher and higher in the order and gradation of life, until they become man, and their there can be an end to the life of Abred by union with goodness. And in death they shall pass to the circle of Gwynvyd, and the Abred of necessity will end for ever. And there will be no migrating through every form of existence after that, except in right of liberty and choice united with Gwynvyd, with a view to re-experience, and re-seek knowledge. And this will remain for ever, as a variation and novation of Gwynvyd, so that no one can fall into Ceugant, and thence into Abred; for God alone can endure and traverse the circle of Ceugant. By this it is seen that there is no Gwynvyd without mutual communication, and the renewal of proof, experience, and knowledge, for it is in knowledge that life and Gwynvyd consist.
Q. Shall every man, when he dies, go to the circle of Gwynvyd?
A. No one shall at death go to Gwynvyd, except he who shall attach himself in life, whilst a man, to goodness and godliness, and to every act of wisdom, justice, and love. And when these qualities preponderate over their opposites, namely, folly, injustice, and uncharitableness, and all evil and ungodliness, the man, when he dies, shall go to Gwynvyd, that is heaven, from whence he will no more fall, because good is stronger than evil of every kind, and life subdues death, prevailing over it for ever. And he shall ascend nearer and nearer to perfect Gwynvyd, until he is at its extreme limits, where he will abide for ever and eternally. But the man who does not thus attach himself to
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godliness, shall fall in Abred to a corresponding form and species of existence of the same nature as himself, whence he shall return to the state of man as before. And then, according as his attachment may be to either godliness or ungodliness, shall he ascend to Gwynfyd, or fall in Abred, when he dies. And thus shall he fall for ever, until he seeks godliness, and attaches himself to it, when there will be an end to the Abred of necessity, and to every necessary suffering of evil and death.
225:1 p. 224 See Note, p. 62.
225:2 Einion Offeiriad, or the Priest, was the father of Thomas ap Einion, author or compiler of the "Greal," the tale of "Pwyll Pendaran Dyved," and the "History of Taliesin." He lived in the 14th century.
225:3 Taliesin flourished from A.D. 520 to 570. He is ranked in the Triads, with Merddin Emrys and Merddin ab Madog Morvryn, as the three "privardd bedydd," or baptismal Bards of the Isle of Britain. Many of his compositions are still extant, which, with some of later date, wrongly attributed to him, are printed in the first volume of the Myvyrian Archaiology. Several Bardic allusions may be discovered in his Poems.
225:4 Al. "of Euas." His proper name was Davydd ab Roderic ab Madog, which is still to be seen on his effigies in Dymeirchion Church, of which he was Vicar, and where he lies buried. He flourished about 1340. He was an eminent and learned Poet, and had a great share in regulating Welsh prosody. There is a sacred poem by him "Am ddiwedd dyn a’i gorph," and a very poetical translation of the "Officium B. Mariæ," from Latin into Welsh, which fills thirty columns of the first volume of the Myvyrian Archaiology.
225:5 He was Meurig or Maurice, treasurer of Llandaf, who died in 1290. He obtained the name of "Cwtta Cyvarwydd" from a Book of his, so called, which contains a compendium of the History of Glamorgan, with other articles, a list of which is given by Edward Llwyd in the Archaiologia Britannica, p. 257. He also wrote the History of the whole Isle of Britain; a Book of Proverbs; the Rules of Poetry; and Welsh Theology. He also translated the Gospel of St. John from the Latin into Welsh, with commentaries. "These Books," says Ingo ab Dewi, (about 1700,) "were at Abermarlas about fifty years ago."
225:6 p. 225 Iohannes Menevensis, a divine and poet, who flourished towards the close of the tenth century. Some compositions, attributed to him, are printed in the first volume of the Myvyrian Archaiology.
225:7 A poet and grammarian, who flourished in the thirteenth century. The Grammar, which he undertook at the command of the Princes of Wales, about 1270, has recently been published under the auspices of the Welsh MSS, Society.
225:8 Sion Cent, or Dr. John Kent, a very eminent poet, and learned divine, who flourished from about 1380 to 1420. He wrote various Treatises in Latin on theological subjects, thirty-nine of which may be enumerated, and many poems in his native language, which were highly esteemed. Every manuscript volume of Welsh poetry of early date generally contains some of his productions. Three of them, one of which enumerates the Bardic Names of God, are printed in the Iolo MSS.
225:9 Rhys Goch Eryri, or Rhys ab Davydd, was a very eminent poet, who flourished from A.D. 1330 to 1420. About 30 of his poems on various subjects are preserved, among them one entitled "Cywydd Cyfrinach," which is printed in the Iolo MSS, p. 307, and is full of allusions to the mysteries of Bardism.
225:10 A distinguished patron of Welsh literature. He was the author of a set of Theological Triads, which appear from the style and language as if they were of Bardic origin.
227:1 p. 226 There are two poems printed in the Myv. Arch., vol. i., and attributed to Taliesin, entitled respectively, "Canu y Byd mawr," and "Canu y Byd bychan," or the Great World, and the Little World. The former, referring to the creation, and the latter, to the maintenance of the world, seem, both of them, to be founded on the doctrine of the text. Iorwerth Vynglwyd (1460--1500) bears his testimony to the fact that man was described in the creed of the Bards as a little world, thus;--
Saith the revered Bardism,
A little world is man in his vigour, under the light.
227:2 It was this doctrine relative to the commencement of life from Annwn, that was, no doubt, at the bottom of the opinion, which Julius Cæsar attributes to p. 227 the Gauls. "Galli se omnes ab Dite patre prognatos prædicaut, idque a Druidibus proditum dicunt." (De Bel. Gal. l. vi, c. 18.)
229:1 p. 228 "Ei gwrthryw," i.e. their species may be opposed by a contrary species.
229:2 "Au gwrthrym," i.e. their force be opposed by a contrary force.