Gwefan Cymru-Catalonia. "Y Fari Lwyd". Translations of verses from an article on the tradition in Y Bont-faen in the book 'Old Cowbridge', published in 1922, as explained to the writer by an old man (John John) born around 1842.

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Mari Lwd

Penillion o dref y Bont-faen (Bro Morgannwg) (1922)


Verses from Y Bont-faen
(Cowbridge), Bro Morgannwg, (Vale of Glamorgan), De-ddwrain Cymru (South-east Wales) (1922)


map o gymru a'r gwledydd catalaneg (map_cymru_pc_drenewydd_050112)

Adolygiad diweddaraf / Latest update 24 06 2000

 

2189k Cymraeg yn unig

Our comments in orange type.

These are Mari Lwd verses from the town of Y Bont-faen ('Cowbridge') in Bro Morgannwg ('The Vale of Glamorgan'). The article is in English, with the verses mostly in Welsh, but the author gave no translation of them, and they are in places rather difficult to understand.

We assume that the author of the book, Dr Lemuel Hopkin-James, noted the old man's words accurately. Curiously many soft mutations are missing - which was not a feature of this dialect, and can only be because the old man had at some time in his life started using English as his main language, and abandoned Welsh. One of the curious features in this circumstance (noted too in other Celtic languages) is that a disregard for mutation takes place.

This area was famous for a substandard form of Welsh called 'Cymraeg carreg galch' = 'limestone Welsh'. The quarry workers were Somerset people, who had been obliged to learn Welsh on coming into this monoglot community in the Morgannwg Lowlands, but whose faulty Welsh was used as warning to others about how not to speak Welsh, and was the subject of humour. However, the English surname of the old man is a typical Engish surname used by the Welsh in these parts - John - so it is unlikely that his defective Welsh was because he was an outsider. Besides which, he was involved in the tradition of the Fari Lawd.

As is to be expected, the form of Welsh he uses is 'Gwentian' - Y Wenhwseg. We've numbered the verses (they are not numbered in the original text) and we've added the standard Welsh form of the verses, and after an English translation.

Thr original text is placed at the end.

The Last Mari Lwyd From: Old Cowbridge, 1922, Dr L Hopkin-James
Mr John John, who is 80 years of age, the youngest old man in the town, is the last person who has gone round 'under the horse's head', as the Mari Lwyd, this old-world Christmas custom, has died out in the Borough. Mr John has sung his verses to me, and they are set down here phonetically as they came from his mouth in his form of the Glamorgan dialect:-

Mr John John, who is 80 years of age, the youngest old man in the town, is the last person who has gone round 'under the horse's head', as the Mari Lwyd, this old-world Christmas custom, has died out in the Borough. Mr John has sung his verses to me, and they are set down here phonetically as they came from his mouth in his form of the Glamorgan dialect:-

(1)
Wel tyma ni'n dawad cymdogion diniwad
I ofyn os cewn ganad i ganu nos heno

(Wel dyma ni yn dyfod gymdogion diniwed
I ofn a gawn gennad / ganiatd i ganu nos heno)
Well here we are coming harmless friends (i.e. not causing malice)
To ask if we shall have permission to sing tonight

(2)
Os na chewn ni gennad rhewch clywad ar ganiad
A pwy yw'r
(here his memory failed him)
(Os na chawn ni gennad rhowch glywed ar ganiad
A phw'r w'r...)
If we don't get permission listen to the singing ('put a listening on the singing')
And who is the...


(3)
Ni dethon parchedig bron ty gwr boneddig
I roi tro wyl nadolig ych welad

(Ni a ddeuthom / Deuthom ni yn barchedig ger bron t gwr bonheddig
I roi tro gwl Nadolig i'ch gweled)
We came respectably before the house of a gentleman
To have a Christmastime walk to see you (rhoi tro = have a walk, 'give a turn')

When the Mari Lwyd approached the house of visit those inside would secure the door and issue a challenging verse such as

(4)
Os dos yma dynion all toru englynion
Rhewch attab yn dynion i'r bechgyn nos heno

(Os oes yma ddynion a all dorri englynion
Rhowch ateb, y dynion, i'r bechgn nos heno)
If there are any people ('men') here who can write / compose ('break') englynion (verses of four lines)
Give an answer, boys, to the men tonight


So they would keep up the challenge and response. If the parties inside failed to reply in verse admittance was looked upon as a right. Unfortunately we have lost the Cowbridge challenging verses from the inside, but Mr John remembers several of his answers

(5)
Mae Mari Lwyd yma llawn sers a ribbana
Mae wyrth i roi gola i welad nos heno

(Mae Mari Lwd yma yn llawn sers a rhubannau
Mae'n werth i roi golau i weled nos heno)
Mari Lwd is here full of stars and ribbons
It's worth putting on a light ('to give light') to see tonight

(6)
We've got a fine Mary, she's dressed very pretty
With ribbons so plenty this Christmas

(7)
She has won a bridle and likewise a saddle
Her name is Dame Tattle this Christmas

(8)
If you are good nature, go down to the cellar
And fill a jug over this Christmas

From the inside:

(9)
Fi safa yn y baili spor cerrig yn pantu
Cyn ildai swd corgi a titha

(Fi a saif / Fe safa i yn y beili nes bo'r cerrig yn pantu
Cyn yr ildia i sut gorgi thithau)
I'll stand in the forecourt until the stones are worn down ('develop depressions / hollows')
Until I yield to such an unpleasant fellow as you


Reply:
(10)
Your missis is willing to give us a shilling
Without any grumbling this Christmas

(11)
Fi gana ti ymhunan am punt ar y pentan
A postio nhw mwn arian nos heno

(Fi a ganaf / Fe gana i ti fy hunan am bunt ar y pentan
??A phostia hwy mewn arian nos heno)
I'll sing myself for you by the fireside for a pound
And give them?? (literally 'post them') in coin tonight


(12)
Ma genni dwy dyrna fel sleds yn y cwara
Chaiff brwa dy drysa nos heno

(Mae gennyf ddau (o) ddyrnau fel sleds yn y cwarre / chwarel
a gaiff friwo dy ddrysau nos heno)
I've got two fists like sledgehammers in the quarry
which will get to break down your doors tonight


(13)
Fi gana am wthnos a phart o bythownos
A mis os bydd achos nos heno

(Fi a ganaf / Fe gana am wthnos a phart / rhan o bythefnos
A mis os bydd achos nos heno)
I'll sing for a week and part of a fortnight
And a month if need be tonight


If the parties inside were beaten by the rhymesters outside admittance was gained and the song continued

(14)
Wel clirwch y menca a byrdydd a chadira
Rhewch le ini wara nos heno

(Wel cliriwch y meinciau a'r borddd a chadeiriau
Rhowch le i ni chwarae nos heno)
Well clear the benches and the tables and the chairs
Make room ('give place') for us to play tonight


And at the end of the entertainment -

(15)
Ni geson ein parched dos siwr a croesewydd
Fferweloch y leni ni'n madal

(Ni a gawsom / Fe gawsom ein parchu, do siwr, a chroesewdd
Ffarwelwch eleni, yr ym ni yn ymadael)
We were given respect ('we got our respecting'), yes indeed, and welcomes
Goodbye this year, we are leaving


Some of the verses were never meant for ears polite, and Mr John very rightly would not repeat them. He, however, ventured as far as to repeat: -

(16)
O Billy pen bwldog a doi clust scafarnog
A dsiawl dwy wynebog a titha

(O Bili pen bwldog dau glust ysgyfarnog
Y diawl dauwnebog thithau)
O Bili (Billy) with the head of a bulldog and two hare's ears
You two-faced devil

 DIWEDD / END

 _______________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL TEXT:


The Last Mari Lwyd
From: Old Cowbridge, 1922, Dr L Hopkin-James
Mr John John, who is 80 years of age, the youngest old man in the town, is the last person who has gone round 'under the horse's head', as the Mari Lwyd, this old-world Christmas custom, has died out in the Borough. Mr John has sung his verses to me, and they are set down here phonetically as they came from his mouth in his form of the Glamorgan dialect:-
Wel tyma ni'n dawad cymdogion diniwad
I ofyn os cewn ganad i ganu nos heno

Os na chewn ni gennad rhewch clywad ar ganiad
A pwy yw'r (here his memory failed him)

Ni dethon parchedig bron ty gwr boneddig
I roi tro wyl nadolig ych welad

When the Mari Lwyd approached the house of visit those inside would secure the door and issue a challenging verse such as
Os dos yma dynion all toru englynion
Rhewch attab yn dynion i'r bechgyn nos heno

So they would keep up the challenge and response. If the parties inside failed to reply in verse admittance was looked upon as a right. Unfortunately we have lost the Cowbridge challenging verses from the inside, but Mr John remembers several of his answers
Mae Mari Lwyd yma llawn sers a ribbana
Mae wyrth i roi gola i welad nos heno

We've got a fine Mary, she's dressed very pretty
With ribbons so plenty this Christmas
She has won a bridle and likewise a saddle
Her name is Dame Tattle this Christmas
If you are good nature, go down to the cellar
And fill a jug over this Christmas
From the inside:
Fi safa yn y baili spor cerrig yn pantu
Cyn ildai swd corgi a titha

Reply:
Your missis is willing to give us a shilling
Without any grumbling this Christmas
Fi gana ti ymhunan am punt ar y pentan
A postio nhw mwn arian nos heno

Ma genni dwy dyrna fel sleds yn y cwara
Chaiff brwa dy drysa nos heno

Fi gana am wthnos a phart o bythownos
A mis os bydd achos nos heno

If the parties inside were beaten by the rhymesters outside admittance was gained and the song continued
Wel clirwch y menca a byrdydd a chadira
Rhewch le ini wara nos heno

And at the end of the entertainment -
Ni geson ein parched dos siwr a croesewydd
Fferweloch y leni ni'n madal

Some of the verses were never meant for ears polite, and Mr John very rightly would not repeat them. He, however, ventured as far as to repeat: -
O Billy pen bwldog a doi clust scafarnog
A dsiawl dwy wynebog a titha
DIWEDD / END

 

 

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