Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Meilyr Brydydd

1406040Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 37 — Meilyr Brydydd1894John Edward Lloyd

MEILYR BRYDDYDD (i.e. the Poet) (d. 1140?), Welsh bard, was the son of Mabon ab Iarddur ap Mor, and dwelt at Trefeilyr, in the parish of Trefdraeth, Anglesey, a township which doubtless took its name from him (Lewys Dwnn, Heraldic Visitations of Wales, ii. 128, 139, 266). Three of his poems are preserved in the ‘Myvyrian Archaiology’ (2nd edit. pp. 140–2), namely: (1) an elegy on Gruffydd ap Cynan (d. 1137) [q. v.]; (2) a short poem on the battle of Mynydd Carn (1081), said to have been written in the army of Trahaiarn ap Caradog, there defeated; (3) the poet's death-lay, in which he prays that his bones may be laid in Enlli (Bardsey Island). Meilyr is the first of the ‘Gogynfeirdd,’ the mediæval bards whose poems can be approximately dated, as distinguished from the ‘Cynfeirdd,’ the half-mythical poets of the sixth century, of whose genuine work very little can have come down to us. He is the herald of the poetic revival which contact with Norman civilisation and success in arms brought about among the Welsh towards the middle of the twelfth century. From his elegy to Gruffydd ap Cynan we learn that he was ‘pencerdd’ (chief bard) under that prince (‘bum o du gwledig yn lleithiawc’ = ‘I sat by the monarch's side’—a privilege only enjoyed by the chief bard, Ancient Laws of Wales, edit. 1841, i. 74). On one occasion, we gather from the same source, he acted as envoy for the court of Aberffraw. His son, Gwalchmai, and his grandsons, Einion and Meilyr, also won renown as poets, and the family was for generations of consequence in Anglesey (Lewys Dwnn, ii. 108, 128, 202, 266; Record of Carnarvon, Record edit. pp. 45, 46, 48).

[Myvyrian Archaiology, 2nd edit. pp. 140–2; Stephens's Literature of the Kymry, 2nd edit. pp. 10–15.]

J. E. L.