Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Prophecies from the Book of Taliesin

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Prophecies from the Book of Taliesin

Article excerpt

Prophecies from the Book of Taliesin, ed. and trans. Marged Haycock (Aberystwyth: CMCS, 2013). viii + 199 pp. ISBN 978-0-9557182-7-4. £25.00. Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin, ed. and trans. Marged Haycock, 2nd, revised edition (Aberystwyth: CMCS, 2015). viii + 559 pp. ISBN 978-0-9557182-8-1. £35.00. The Book of Taliesin (MS Peniarth 2 in the National Library of Wales), copied in the first half of the fourteenth century, contains sixty-one poems in Middle Welsh, many of them no doubt of much earlier origin. Quite a number of the poems, including a block of twelve claimed by their editor to be the work of a historical sixth-century poet 'Taliesin', were published, with translations, from the late 1950s onwards by Sir Ifor Williams, and the religious and scriptural poems were edited by Marged Haycock in 1994. In the two publications noted here, Haycock completes the task of making the whole collection readily available by providing a modern critical edition with an English 'interlinear translation', in a first volume of ten prophetic poems, a number of which look forward to terrible military defeats, even to the Last Judgement (but also including a poem more in the manner of a heroic lay), and in a second volume of twenty-six 'legendary poems'. The term legendary is not used here in the usual sense, but to refer to a 'legendary' persona, who can most often be thought of as the ancient bard Taliesin, 'whose biography is alluded to in the work itself, and whose character and activities were in all probability known to the audience through their background knowledge'. …

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