The Sounds of Medieval Wales, featuring Llewelyn Hopwood (podcast notes, s3e9)

The Sounds of Medieval Wales

featuring Llewelyn Hopwood

In this episode, Nina Cnockaert-Guillou talks to Llewelyn Hopwood, a DPhil student at the University of Oxford, about his doctoral research, which focuses on ‘Sound and Control’ in medieval Welsh poetry during the Beirdd yr Uchelwyr period (c. 1300–1600). Llewelyn first explains how he got the idea for such an innovative research project and talks about Celtic Studies in Oxford. He then discusses sound studies and his own research in more detail, and treats us with a few readings from medieval Welsh poems! Please find all the translations and details of these poems below.

This episode was recorded in August 2022. 

Host: Nina Cnockaert-Guillou 
Guest: Llewelyn Hopwood 
Languages: English, with poetry readings in Welsh 
Music: “Kesh Jig, Leitrim Fancy” by Sláinte, CC BY-SA 3.0 US (, available from

Dafydd ap Gwilym ‘Trafferth Mewn Tafarn’ 

ll. 31–46 ed. and trans. Dafydd Johnston

Briwais, ni neidiais yn iach, 
Y grimog, a gwae'r omach, 
Wrth ystlys, ar waith ostler, 
Ystôl groch ffôl, goruwch ffêr. 
Trewais, drwg fydd tra awydd, 
Lle y'm rhoed, heb un llam rhwydd, 
Mynych dwyll amwyll ymwrdd, 
Fy nhalcen wrth ben y bwrdd, 
Lle'r oedd cawg yrhawg yn rhydd 
A llafar badell efydd. 
Syrthio o'r bwrdd, dragwrdd drefn, 
A'r ddeudrestl a'r holl ddodrefn. 
Rhoi diasbad o'r badell, 
I'm hôl y'i clywid ymhell. 
Gweiddi, gŵr gorwag oeddwn, 
O'r cawg, a chyfarth o'r cŵn.
I hurt my shin (my poor leg!), 
I didn't jump safely, above the ankle, 
on the edge of a stupid shrill stool, 
because of the inn-keeper. 
I hit my forehead (excessive desire is bad), 
where I ended up, without any free leap, 
frequent confusion of wild crashing, 
on the end of the table, 
where there was a loose basin now 
and a noisy brass pan. 
The table fell, a heavy piece, 
and the two trestles and all the utensils. 
The pan let out a clang, 
it could be heard a long way behind me. 
The basin boomed (I was a vain man) 
and the dogs barked.

Lewys Glyn Cothi, ‘Marwnad Phelpod ap Rhys’ 

ll. 1–2, 49–52 ed. Dafydd Johnston 
trans. Llewelyn Hopwood

Pan fu gnul Ifor Brulai 
yno bu och. Pam na bai?
When the death-knell of Brulai’s Ifor Hael [sounded], 
there was a sigh. Why wouldn’t there be?’
Ydd oedd wrth ei ddiwedd ef 
Gan delyn gŵyn a dolef, 
Clych yn ymffust i’m clustiau, 
Cyrn a oedd utgyrn bob dda
There was upon his end 
A lament and cry from a harp, 
Bells striking my ears, 
Horns and trumpets in pairs.

Ieuan ap Rhydderch, ‘Awdl i Fair’ 

ll. 65–68 ed. R. Iestyn Daniel. 
trans. Llewelyn Hopwood

Mam Grist Celi, seren heli, 
Luna celi, lain y suliau.
Oportere nos habere,
Miserere, moes ar eirau.
[Oh] mother of Christ [of] the Lord, star of the sea, 
moon of Heaven, gem of Sundays, 
it is proper for us to have – 
to show mercy – courtesy in our words

Iolo Goch, ‘Dychan i’r Gwyddelyn’ 

ll. 91, 32, 86 
ed. and trans. Dafydd Johnston

Yswain morchwain mawrchwaith, 
Ŷs faw diawl, aswy fu d’iaith
Lice-ridden knave of great sourness, 
eat devil’s dirt, clumsy was your language’
Barf rydlyd, berw afradlawn
Rusty beard, vain hubbub
Tincer gwawd, wyneb tancr gwern.
Peddler of poetry, face like an alderwood tankard

  • Blackkklansman (2018) 

  • Sorry to bother you (2018) 

  • Alvin Lucier, I Am Sitting in a Room (1969) 

  • Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18, Joia! (2019) 

  • Voicing the Verse / Y Gerdd ar Gân (2010) 


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