Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Taliesin's Revolt Against The Establishment

Even as a very small child Taliesin was able to inflict havoc on the dignity of Maelgwn Gwynedd’s Druidic Poetic company. Maelgwn Gwynedd was the King of Gwynedd (in Wales) who reigned from an unknown date until his death in c. 547. Mael Gwynedd is known more formally as Maelgwn ap Cadwallon (or in English, Maelgwn son of Cadwallon and also Maelgwn Hir Maelgwn the Tall).

Although Taliesin was made an Ollamh and head of that particular Druidic Council or Society by his foster father Gwyddno Garanhir. He preferred to use the slightly lesser title of Anruth, the bearer of the Silver Bough, a branch of wood festooned with bells. When an Anruth approached and then entered a hall, all knew to respect the Anruth and to stop and listen - for the Anruth sang and spoke of poems and tales (usually accompanied by a simple harp for unending hours) of the great deeds of heros, Kings and Queens, of romance, mysticism, and all that the people considered enlightening, proper and entertaining for the age. (A possible example is attached at the ending of this blog. A Minster Lovell Harp which with the help of a friend and expert harp maker was made by myself and is completely handmade with carvings, silver gilt, silver inlay and all natural materials, whether purchased or made)

In Taliesin’s infancy (childhood) after his adoption by Gwyddno Garanhir, the Poetic Company of Maelgwn Gwynedd went to the king to demand their payment as was due. These 'Bards' passed Taliesin, who was sitting quietly in a corner. Taliesin played ‘blerwm, blerwm, blerwn’ on his lips with his finger. They looked upon the child and of course promptly ignored him.

These great Bards then stood before the King to demand their payment. They stood in unison to ask for their just demands, but the only utterance they could make was ‘blerwm, blerwm, blerwn’. Thus Taliesin made fools of them.

Amazed at the behaviour of such revered and highly regarded Bards and Anruths, Maelgwn Gwynedd demanded to know if they were indeed drunk! Despite their fury at this accusation, the Bards were forced to admit that it was due to the ‘power’ of the child Taliesin which caused them to act in such a way.

Thus we see Taliesin as not only an acclaimed bard and Anruth, but also as a Trickster with great wit even as a a mere child. It is also claimed that he was a shape shifter as shown in other stories regarding his life.

It is debated whether Taliesin was indeed a verified historical person or a myth. There are texts which are allegedly written by him. Traditionally his grave lies in Wales. Taliesin, the greatest of Welsh poets who  grew up and lived in the area around Llangynfelyn. It is thought that he returned to this area in his old age to die and is buried in the hills about Tre-Taliesin, the village which carries his name. There they claim his grave is still in this place and according to tradition is to be seen.

I believe that myths, folklore and tales have their roots in forgotten imaginations which are based partially on fact, archaeological evidence and history and perhaps what was believed was imbellished in order to explain that which was 'unexplainable' at the time, or simply to make it more interesting, enjoyable and/or to add impact to the stories/beliefs. But consider that that they may well bear a seed of truth. As with any myth or belief, for me at least, they are often inspirational and who knows?