Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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CASNODYN ( fl. 1320-40 ), poet .

The earliest Glamorgan poet whose compositions appear in the manuscripts. He also sang in Gwynedd and Ceredigion . It is not altogether certain which are his poems. The ‘ Red Book of Hergest ’ attributes poems to him which, according to the Myv. Arch. , are the work of Gruffudd ap Maredudd , and Myv. Arch. , assigns to Casnodyn the awdl to Ieuan , abbot of Aberconwy , which the Red Book gives as the work of Riserdyn . Iolo Morganwg states that Casnodyn was a native of Kilvey , and it would appear that Hywel Ystorym , who was the poet's contemporary, refers to the same fact in a satiric poem: ‘ Pryf waeth waeth ei faeth o fythau Cilfai ’ — R.B. Poetry , 1342. Casnodyn sang to Gwenllian , wife of Sir Gruffydd Llwyd , who was a prisoner in 1322 , and to Ieuan Llwyd ap Ieuan ap Gruffudd , of Ceredigion (an elegy to Angharad , wife of this Ieuan , is attributed to Dafydd ap Gwilym ). He also sang to the Trinity, and his elegy to Madog Fychan of Coetref , Llangynwyd , steward of Tir Iarll under the lord of Glamorgan , and a man of considerable importance about 1330 , is the first extant poem to any male member of a Glamorgan family. Casnodyn has other references to places in Glamorgan , and in his poem to Gwenllian he mentions his ‘Gwentian’ Welsh . He calls himself Gruffudd in his awdl to Madog Fychan . He refers to himself being taught to ‘fashion easily a perfect poem,’ by Ieuan Llwyd , a man whose son and grandson were poets.

Casnodyn is representative of the conservative school of his time, contemptuous of the aspiring lower orders of poets who were in his day rapidly coming to the fore. He was equally unyielding in his attitude to the new society which was forming around him, and praised as his ideal the old-type gentleman who was ignorant of English . In metrical development, however, his work marks a step forward in the direction of strict cynghanedd , particularly in his predilection for closely knit cynghanedd sain , of which his best known line is as good an example as any: ‘ Main riain firain gain Gymraeg .’ The example of the rhupynt metre given in the Red Book version of the ‘ Guide to Poetic Art ’ which is associated with the name of Einion Offeiriad is from Casnodyn 's awdl to the Trinity .

Sources:

  • The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales , 283-9;
  • ‘Llyfr Coch Hergest’ (Jesus College MS. cxi) , 1233-48;
  • J. Lloyd-Jones , Geirfa Barddoniaeth Gynnar Gymraeg , 1931 , ii, 115-6;
  • Ifor Williams , ‘Dosbarth Einion Offeiriad,’ in Y Beiriniad , (1) 1859–71; (2) 1911–19 , v, 1915 , 129;
  • G. J. Williams , Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg , 1948 , passim .

Author:

David Myrddin Lloyd, M.A., (1909-81), Aberystwyth / Scotland

Published date: 1959