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The Works of Gwerful Mechain

Katie Gramich (editor) Katie Gramich (Translated by)

ISBN: 9781554814145

Publication Date: Oct 2018

Format: Paperback

Gwerful Mechain is the only Welsh female poet from the late middle ages whose poems have survived as a substantial body of work. One of the most striking characteristics of her poetry is the easy coexistence in her oeuvre of devotional and erotic works. Yet, as the introduction discusses, some coexistence of the erotic and the religious was not entirely untypical of medieval literary production in Wales.
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Gwerful Mechain is the only Welsh female poet from the late middle ages whose poems have survived as a substantial body of work. One of the most immediately striking characteristics of her poetry is the easy coexistence in her oeuvre of devotional and erotic works. Even to those who may be familiar with the bawdiness of Chaucer or Boccaccio, Gwerful's work is remarkably direct. Yet, as the introduction discusses, some coexistence of the erotic and the religious was not entirely untypical of medieval literary production in Wales; overall, indeed, one of the most important characteristics of Gwerful's work is its position in the mainstream of medieval Welsh poetry. Her themes and techniques do not mark her as a marginal or isolated figure, participating in some putative female sub-culture; on the contrary, she engages in poetic dialogues with her male contemporaries, using the same forms, tropes, and vocabulary as they do, and jousting with them verbally as their equal. At the same time, she often speaks with a female voice, taking her peers to task for their male arrogance.

All of Gwerful's known work is included here–as are several poems of uncertain authorship, and a number of other works that help to fill in the historical and literary context.

A unique feature of the volume is the provision, for each work of medieval Welsh poetry included, of two different translations. The first, a literal translation, is presented in facing page format opposite the original Welsh; a second, freer translation, with rhyme patterns approximating those of the original, follows.
Pages 160
Dimensions 216 x 140 x 9
Date Published 30 Oct 2018
Publisher Broadview Press
Series Broadview Anthology of British Literature Editions
Subject/s Anthologies (non-poetry)   Poetry   Fiction  
  • Introduction
  • Poems by Gwerful Mechain
  • Dioddefaint Crist / Christ's Passion
  • Angau a Barn / Death and Judgement
  • Cywydd y cedor / To the vagina
  • I wragedd eiddigus / To jealous wives
  • I Lywelyn ap Gutyn / To Llywelyn ap Gytun
  • I ateb Ieuan Dyfi am gywydd Anni Goch / A response to Ieuan Dyfi's poem about Red Annie
  • Gwerful Mechain yn holi Dafydd Llwyd / Gwerful Mechain questions Dafydd Llwyd
  • Gwerful Mechain yn gofyn i Dafydd Llwyd / Gwerful Mechain asks Dafydd Llwyd
  • Ymddiddan rhwng Dafydd Llwyd a Gwerful Mechain / A conversation between Dafydd Llwyd and Gwerful Mechain
  • Dafydd Llwyd yn ateb Gwerful Mechain / Dafydd Llwyd responds to Gwerful Mechain
  • I'w gr am ei churo / To her husband for beating her
  • Gwlychu pais / Wetting my petticoat
  • Llanc ym min y llwyn / A lad beside the bush
  • I'w morwyn wrth gachu / To her maid as she shits
Poems of uncertain authorship
  • Ynghylch ei thad / About her father
  • Pwy a gâr fwyaf? / Who loves more passionately?
  • Gwerful yn ateb Dafydd Llwyd / Gwerful responds to Dafydd Llwyd
  • Yr eira / The snow
  • Y bed / The grave
  • In Context
  • Ieuan Dyfi , "I Anni Goch" / "To Red Annie"
  • Dafydd Llwyd, "Cywydd llateiaeth i Werful Mechain ac i yrru Llywelyn ap Gutyn iddi yn llatai" / "A love-message poem to Gwerful Mechain, sending Llywelyn ap Gutyn to her as a messenger"
  • Llywelyn ap Gutyn, "Ateb i'r cywydd llateiaeth" / "A response to the love-message poem"
  • Dafydd Llwyd, "Moliant i Gwerful Mechain" / "In praise of Gwerful Mechain"
  • Gwerful ferch Gutun o Dalysarn, "Cywydd i ofyn telyn rawn" / "To ask for a harp"
  • Dafydd ap Gwilym, "Cywydd y Gal" / "Cywydd to the Penis"
  • Anonymous, "Englyn i'r Gal" / "Englyn to the Penis"
  • Katie Gramich is Professor in English Literature at Cardiff University. The author of many books and articles on Welsh literature, she is also co-editor and translator of Welsh Women's Poetry 1460-2001: An Anthology.

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