Mari Lwyd

To all true men of Morganwg (Glamorgan), this is the night of Y Mari Lwyd, going back to pagan times. The Mari Lwyd is an effigy of a Celtic horse god carried from house to house by a group of men amid poetry contests and drinking, so by the time dawn appeared none were left standing. The Celtic horse goddess was Epona in Gallo Roman form. The modern Welsh for a young horse is ebol, or in our Glamorgan dialect, epol. The poet Vernon Watkins came from Maesteg and wrote “The Ballad of the Mari Lwyd”, published in 1943. Maesteg is down the mountain from Llangynwyd, where the Mari Lwyd is still practised. The half mythical Wil Hopcyn was said to have been deeply affected by Anne Thomas, Morwyn Cefn Ydfa, Llangynwyd, (1704 – 1727), but the two of them were forced apart. Anne was forced to marry someone called Anthony Maddocks. Anne was locked in her room, but the two continued to communicate through maidservants, hiding lettersin an oak tree. This is a famous legend here in Morganwg but in reality almost nothing is known about Wil Hopcyn. The famous song “Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn” was in all probability written by Iolo Morganwg. I have translated some of it in this blog. Mary Hopkin, fornmer pupil of Pontardawe Granmmar School, is on youtube singing it unaccompanied. This is how Dai Daniels and I remember her in class, and Dai kindly sent me some cuttings about here which Dave Burleigh kindly posted on www.aias.us. Mary is my cousin in two ways, on the Hopkin and Morgan sides. So the circle around John Davies might like to listen to this recording. This makes a change from wild haired physicists.


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