The Celtic Literature Collective

The Dialogue of Llewelyn and Gwrnerth
Red Book of Hergest III

Llewelyn and Gwrnerth were two penitent saints at Trallwng in Powys; and it was their custom to meet together during the last three hours of the night and the first three hours of the day to say their matins, and the hours of the day besides. And once upon a time Llewelyn, seeing the cell of Gwrnerth shut, and not knowing why it was so, composed an Englyn.

Mountain snow--wind about the bush; 
It is the Creator of heaven that strengthens me. 
Is it asleep that Gwrnerth is?

Mountain snow--God above all things;
It is to Him I will pray.
No; I cannot sleep.

Mountain snow--wind about the house;
It is so thou speakest
What, Gwrnerth, causes that?

Mountain snow--wind from the south;
I will utter prime words.
Most probably it is death.

Mountain snow--white-topped the vale;
Every one is mild to him by whom he is cherished.
May the Creator of heaven deliver thee!

Mountain snow--white-topped the tree;
I will speak differently.
There is no refuge against the decree of Heaven.

Mountain snow--every rite should be observed
For fear of distressing anxiety in the day of doom.
Shall I have the communion as a favour?

Mountain snow--wind about the house;
It is so thou speakest.
Alas! my brother, must that be?

Thou highly-gifted! thee I love;
It is to God I will pray.
Llewelyn, it is high time I should receive it.

Mountain snow--wind about the hill;
The Creator of heaven will have me.
Is it asleep Llewelyn is?

Mountain snow--wind from the south;
I will utter prime words.
No; I am chanting my hours.

Mountain snow--it is easily known
When the wind turns round a wail.
Knowest thou who says it?

Mountain snow--thou bold of speech, 
It is so thou speakest.
I know not, unless thou wilt say.

Mountain snow--every assistance
Will receive becoming praise;
Thy brother Gwrnerth is here.

Foremost in the tumult and in energetic action
Is every brave one, being impelled by his Awen;
What, Gwrnerth, is best for thee?

The first thing to be aimed at in every usage and action congenial to the brave,
Is a pure life unto the day of judgment; 
The best that I have found is alms-giving.

Thou highly gifted with good qualities, 
The canon is on thy lips; 
Tell me what alms the best.

Bold the Awen; there is wind over the lake
When the wave beats around the eminence;
The best is meat for hunger.

If meat I cannot obtain, 
And with my hands cannot get in, 
Say what shall I then do?

Foremost in the tumult and in energetic action
Is every brave one, impelled by his Awen;
Give clothing to keep from nakedness.

My clothes I will give, 
And myself commend to God; 
What recompense shall I then receive?

What good things thou givest on every opportunity, 
Bold in thy privilege keep thy countenance; 
And thou shalt have heaven a hundredfold.

Since with the early dawn I love thee, 
It is in the form of verse I am asking, 
With God what one thing is most odious?

Advantage, and Awen, and equality
When water will run up the ascent;
The worst of deceit where there is confidence.

If I practise deceit through confidence 
And to God Supreme confess, 
What punishment will befall me?

Shouldst thou practise deceit through confidence, 
Without faith, without religion, without belief, 
Thou shalt have sevenfold penance.

I will with the dawn believe thee, 
And for God’s sake will ask 
How shall I obtain heaven?

Good and evil are not alike,
As wind and smoke when contending;
Do good for the sake of God, who is not wrathful.

Bold is the Awen of every one that is patronised; 
Horses are apt to rim much about in hot weather. 
The end of all things is confession.

What thou doest from all excess,
From deception, and oppression, and arrogance, 
For God’s sake make a full confession.

Tyssilio, the son of Brochwael Ysgythrog, composed these verses concerning Gwrnerth’s coming to perform his devotions with Llewelyn the saint, his companion; and they are called the Colloquy of Llewelyn and Gwrnerth.