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The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, Vol. II., ed. by J. Williams Ab Ithel, [1874], at

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1. The three primary presiding Bards of the Isle of Britain: Plennydd; Alawn; and Gwron.

2. For three reasons are Bards called Bards according to the privilege and usage of the Bards of the Isle of Britain: one reason is, because it was in the Isle of Britain that Bardism was first understood; the second, because no other country in the world had ever a just comprehension of systematic Bardism; the third, because genuine Bardism cannot be upheld except in virtue of the usages, systems, and voice of Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain. On that account, of whatever country they may be, they are called Bards according to the privilege and usage of the Bards of the Isle of Britain. 1

3. There are three kinds of Bards of the Isle of Britain: Primitive Bards before Christianity; after that, the Bards of Beli; and the pseudo-Bards, that is, the Poets, who are not regulated by the ancient privileges and usages of the Bards of the Isle of Britain. 2

4. There are three Bards of equality, namely: the Primitive Bard; the Druid; and the Ovate; for there should not, and cannot be supremacy to one over another of those three, though each has a privilege over the other, according to the privilege and speciality of office and obligation.

5. There are three colours, which differ one from the other in the robes of the three principal kinds of Bards of the Isle of Britain, namely: blue, 3 the colour of the sky,

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distinguishes the dress of the Primitive Bard Positive, who is called Licentiate of Privilege, inasmuch as he has a gratuitous privilege, and a free license from the day he is dismissed from under the hands of his teacher before a Gorsedd or Chair of systematic vocal song; the robe of the Druid-bard is white; 1 and the robe of an Ovate-bard is green. 2 And there ought not to be two or more colours in the robe of one or other of these three, for a variety of colours in one or other of them is contrary to usage and order, and inconsistent with reason.

6. There are three things symbolized by the three colours of the Bards' robes. The colour of the Primitive Bard is blue, and the signification of that colour is peace, tranquillity, and love, it being the colour of heaven in 3 sunshine and serenity--accordingly, peace and tranquillity, in respect of kind and excellence, ought to have the upper hand and supremacy over every other thing--therefore the Primitive Bard is chief, by privilege and usage, in respect of every memorial and record of primitive sciences. Green is the colour of the Ovate, and under the sign of this colour are placed all the sciences of awen and reason and cogency, as distinct from what belongs to the principal sciences of Bardism, and all the improvement of sciences of whatever kind they may be, so that they are good. That is to say, they are assimilated to the green vegetation of the growth of earth, woods, and fields, which delights the heart and eye of those who behold them. In right of an Ovate and his art, or Ovatism, and his degree of Gorsedd, memorial and record are enjoined until the period of efficiency, and from that time for ever afterwards they will be distinct from the memorial and record of a primitive Bard. White is the symbol

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of truth, and a Druid bears it as the colour of his robe, for truth is of the same hue as light and the bright colour of day, and it cannot admit of a variety of colours. Truth is also represented under the sign of unity of colour in the robes of each of the three kinds of Bards. Nor will the justice of privilege, or sciences, or improvements consist in any thing whatsoever other than in the stability of truth. Each of the Bards, when he shall have been privileged until the period of efficiency, has the privilege of wearing which ever robe he likes, but he has not the privilege of following any office and art other than that which belongs to the robe he may have chosen to wear.

7. Three scientific offices have been, by special privilege, attached to the colours of the robe. The function of a Primitive Bard is to hold a Gorsedd, judgment, and supremacy of testimony, and to maintain the memorial and record of the primary and original sciences of the Bardism of the Bards of the Isle of Britain, in two ways, namely: by means of the voice of Gorsedd, that is, the recitation of every memorial and record publicly at a Gorsedd and Chair, so that they may be heard by country and nation, or by all who resort to the Gorsedd or Chair, at which the Primitive Bard may attend, according to his office and duty, and what is required of him--and he is entitled, under the sanction of his hearing, to the authorized recitation of a Primitive Bard, and his word is a word above all in Chair and Gorsedd; his second memorial is the memorial of song, that is, vocal poem, warranted by the judgment of Gorsedd. The function of an Ovate is to amplify and to improve good sciences in virtue of awen, reason, and circumstance, that is, inevitable obligation; on this account, the Gorsedd does not enquire concerning his teacher, when he is privileged a Bard, but merely concerning his sciences, his art, and his life. Those particulars are enquired after; and, it is in virtue of what he has of them, that he is privileged by the judgment and verdict of Chair or Gorsedd of vocal song. Two memorials and records appertain to him,

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namely, the memorial of vocal song, and the memorial of letters. And when his memorial and record are imposed upon a Primitive Bard by the verdict of Gorsedd, then those sciences will depend systematically upon the voice of Gorsedd, which cannot take place before an efficient judgment is pronounced upon what is so imposed. The function assigned to a Druid comes from the grant and privilege of the lord of the territory, in the comot and town where it may be necessary; and the extent of country, which is placed under him, is called his office, and in his office he is to maintain instruction and worship; that is to say, he is to teach, as it behoves a licensed teacher, all good and methodical sciences, which are authorized by the voice of an efficient Gorsedd, and he ought to hold a meeting of worship in the place where it is required, and in the place which is regular and warranted by the memory and custom of country and nation. And his privilege is, that no naked weapon be borne in the approach to the place, where he holds it, because a Druid is a man under the protection of country and nation, and under the protection of God and His peace.

8. Three persons who are to carry neither a sword nor a horn: a Bard; a metallurgist; and a female.

9. Three arts that are under the protection of the Bards of the Isle of Britain: instrumental and vocal song; mensuration; and metallurgy; even if such men of arts and sciences be strangers, they are so privileged. 1

10. The three monarchs of country, namely: a Bard, who is the teacher of good sciences for the education of country and nation; a judge, who enacts justice and law, for the sake of order and peace in country and nation; and a lord, that is, a king or prince of a territory, who is guardian and protector, for the sake of defending country and nation:--and from the co-operating union of the three conies every verdict of country and nation, under the protection of God and His peace. Others say: a lord; a judge; and a Bard.

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11. There are three particular and distinct persons, who may be lawfully privileged, though they be aliens and strangers, in virtue of the verdict of country and border country, that is, the conventional verdict of Cymru universally: a lord; a Bard; and a judge. From the time they are so privileged, they are adjudged to be innate; and neither they nor their posterity can become disfranchised, because privilege is privilege, and there can be no lack of privilege from privilege, nor privilege from lack of privilege.

12. The three fortunes of a Bard: to make a country inhabitable; to civilize a nation; and to improve sciences. Others say: to civilize a nation; and to maintain sciences.

13. Three things which cannot be dispensed with in a Primitive Bard: poetical awen; the sciences of Bardism; and the qualities of such as lead harmless lives.

14. The three misfortunes of country and nation: a lord without power; a judge without justice; and a Bard without sciences.

15. The three special privileges of a Bard: free passport in whatever country he may travel; that no weapon be borne against him in whatever place he may be; and that his word be paramount in respect of sciences in whatever place he may be. Others say: the three privileges of a Bard wherever he may be, whether in a country or in a border country: free passport; that his word should be paramount in respect of sciences; and that no naked weapon be borne in his presence, wherever he may be.

16. There are three primary laws enjoined upon a Bard: that he should keep his word; that he should keep his secret; and that he should maintain peace and tranquillity.

17. The three institutional laws of a Bard: to maintain peace and tranquillity wherever he may be; to exhibit instruction in regular and commendable sciences and usages, improving and amplifying them; and to keep a regular memorial of what is meritorious in respect of the sciences and systems of country and nation.

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18. There are three things forbidden to a Bard: to bear the arms of war; to bear a wrong pedigree; and to introduce falsehood into his vocal song.

19. Three things monstrous in a Bard: immoral usages; inaffability arising from a morose temper; and ignorance with regard to his art and office of vocal song.

20. The three odiums of country and nation: a proud lord; a deceitful messenger; and a petulant Bard.

21. The three souls of the art of a Bard: to preserve the memorial and record of systematic sciences; to improve the usages of courtesy; and to increase amusement.

22. Three things unbecoming in a Bard: to preserve the memorial of what is dishonourable and monstrous; to corrupt the usages of courtesy; and to impugn amusement.

23. There are three disusages, for which a Bard will inevitably lose the privileges and chattels, which he possesses in respect of song: fighting; falsehood; and adultery--these things being adjudged contrary to law and right.

24. There are three disusages, for which a Bard will lose the chattels, which he possesses in respect of song, to the end of three years: defect in his memorial and record; habitual drunkenness; and the practising of irregular employments and trades, such as a Bard or a Poet ought not to practise--for instance, to maintain himself by instrumental song, and other things, which are forbidden to a Bard, or to a man of vocal song.

25. There are three things which cannot be contravened: the memorial of the voice of Gorsedd; an old song, warranted by a memorial proceeding from the judgment of Gorsedd; and the warranted usage of Chair and Gorsedd.

26. The three memorials of the Bards of the Isle of Britain: the memorial of the voice of Gorsedd; the memorial of song, warranted by the judgment of Gorsedd; and the memorial of Coelbren, that is, the memorial of letters.

27. The three columns of the voice of Gorsedd: vocal song; institutions; and Triads. Others say: song; voice; and institution.

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28. The three licenses of the Bards of the Isle of Britain. Five free acres for every Bard in right of his office and art; or where that is not the case, a plough penny, that is to say, a contribution from every plough in his official district; and where that cannot be, a spear penny, namely, a contribution from every land owner--this license, in whichever of the three ways it may be, is irrespective of the five free acres, which he is entitled to in right of an innate Cymro. The second are the remunerations made, to him for his vocal song, and his roll of pedigrees, that is to say, the memorial of marriages and births, and the memorial of commendable deeds. The third is his circuit of minstrelsy every three years to the houses of the natives and other gentry. And where he does not obtain his provision of five acres, or, in lieu of those, his plough penny, or spear penny, he is to bring an action at law in the court of country and lord, in respect of usage, which cannot be contravened.

29. Three men who ought not to be made Bards: a natural liar; an habitual wrangler; and one who is inevitably ignorant: for such persons can not have Awen from God, or any apprehension of the sciences of Bardism.

30. Three things in man, which demonstrate Awen from God, and that he is competent to become a Bard: natural affection; integrity of life; and manly reason occupied with honourable sciences.

31. The three necessities of a Bard and Bardism: to keep the memorial and record of all that is honourable and good, in respect of truth and sciences; to teach and explain political sciences; and to impose peace and tranquillity upon those who are out of the pale of justice and law. Others say: to instruct in good sciences; to confer memorial and praise upon all that is excellent and good; and to impose peace and rights of judicature upon those who are out of the pale of justice and law.

32. The three repulsive necessities of a Bard: the compulsory concealment of a secret, for the sake of advantage

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and peace; vituperative complaint, required by justice; and to unsheath a sword against the unjust and lawless.

33. The three doctrines required of a Bard: a song according to reason and wisdom; voice according to the memorial and usage of Gorsedd, and the resort of worship; and conduct according to good usages and habits.

34. There are three laws of avoidance incumbent on a Bard: to avoid idleness and sloth, since he is a man of ambition; to avoid contention and strife, since he is a man of love and peace; and to avoid folly, since he is a man of reason, understanding, and Awen from God.

35. The three columns of privilege and usage: custom before the memory of country and nation; the memorial and record of letters; and the judgment of an efficient Gorsedd. Others say: and the authority of an efficient Gorsedd.

36. There are three incidental Gorsedds, the day and time of which cannot be specified, but which are regular and customary as to place, and also of equal privilege with those which are regular and customary as to day and time: the marriage day of the king, or the son, brother, or lineal kinsman of the king, that is, a royal marriage; the day on which the king wears his crown, or golden torques; and the day of the horn of peace between country and border country. There will be a feast for three days on each of those times, and a concert of music and joy by means of voice and instrument.


25:1 p. 24 "The institution is thought to-have originated in Britain, and to have been thence introduced into Gaul; and even now those who wish to become more accurately acquainted with it, generally repair thither, for the sake of learning it." Cæs. De Bel. Gal. lib. vi. c. 13.

25:2 William Cynwal (1560--1600) makes a distinction between a Bard and a poet in the following lines:--

Taeraist yna trwst anhardd
Y mynwn fod a’m enw ’n fardd,
Ni chleimiais, dodais bob dydd,
Gwrdd pridwerth and gradd Prydydd.

Thou didst assert with unseemly clamour,
That I would have my name as a Bard;
I did not claim--I appointed every day
An ardent ransom--save the degree of poet.

25:3 p. 25 Llawdden, at the Eisteddvod, which was held at Caermarthen in the 15th century, thus describes the costume of a Bard:--

Gwn glas oll yn las a’r lliw ’n lân--ysgawn,
Glas esgid a braccan,
Gloyw ei sas, a glas hosan
Glas i gyd glwys yw i gân.

A blue gown, all blue, of pure colour--and light,
A blue shoe and brogue,
A bright sash, and a blue stocking,
Altogether blue--this becomes a song.

27:1 p. 26 William Cynwal alludes to a distinctive dress of the Druids:--

E’th folant feirddion, Derwyddon dor.

Bards and robed Druids will praise thee.


Fy swydd gyda f’ arglwyddi,
Hynn fydd, a’u car hen wyf i,
Darllain mydrwaith rhuglwaith rhaid,
Syful im cyfneseifiaid,
Gwisgaw o befrlaw bob un
Gwyrdd roddion gwrdd o’r eiddun.

My function with my lords,
Is this, who am their aged kinsman,--
To read poetry, which is an easy task,
Courteously to my relatives, p. 27
And to wear, from the fair hands of each,
Green and strong gifts, made by them.
       Ll. Goch ab Meurig Hen, (1330-1370.)

27:3 Al. "and."

31:1 p. 30 Or, "even if such men of privileged arts and sciences be strangers."

Next: The Triads of the Bards.--The Triads of Privilege and Usage