A new version of one of Britain’s oldest cultural treasures, which captures its compelling ‘word-music’.
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The timeless and compelling ‘word-music’ of one of Britain’s oldest cultural treasures is captured in this new bilingual edition.
The Gododdin charts the rise and fall of 363 warriors in the battle of Catraeth, around the year AD 600. The men of the Brittonic kingdom of Gododdin rose to unite the Welsh and the Picts against the Angles, only to meet a devastating fate. Composed by the poet Aneirin, the poem was originally orally transmitted as a sung elegy, passed down for seven centuries before being written down in early Welsh by two medieval scribes. It is composed of one hundred laments to the named characters who fell, and follows a sophisticated alliterative poetics. Former National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke animates this historical epic with a modern musicality, making it live in the language of today and underscoring that, in a world still beset by the misery of war, Aneirin’s lamentation is not done.
'Here, retold with startling freshness, is the earliest masterpiece of British literature. The heroes of Catraeth, debonair, shy, drunk on mead, ride forth and fight again to the plangent music of Gillian Clarke's translation. It's impossible to read this haunting poem and not feel that one's sense of the literary landscape has changed forever.'
‘Y Gododdin is extremely readable, not a long narrative route march but a mosaic of elegies and eulogies to the fallen.’
‘Clarke’s refreshment of The Gododdin with its rhythmic rendition is magnificent. In addressing each warrior lost in battle by name, the lyric’s intensity is magnified, preserving the collective memory, ‘the soul of peoples’. She echoes, too, the other voice, affirming one of the salient features of early Welsh poetry, that of praise. For this exquisite accomplishment, she, too, deserves our deepest praise. These poems remind us that the eternal is also contemporary and that those lost voices are always waiting to be woken back to life.’
'Gillian Clarke's version of this seminal, original spoken word poem is a scrupulous and beautiful rendition of a glory of Britain and a European marvel. In it, she crowns her life’s work as a loving bridge between the two languages of Welsh and English, balancing the music of both. A triumph.'
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