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The Visions of the Sleeping Bard   By: (1671-1734)

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THE VISIONS OF THE SLEEPING BARD BEING ELLIS WYNNE'S "Gweledigaetheu y Bardd Cwsc" Translated by Robert Gwyneddon Davies

Contents: Preface Introduction Author's Life The Text A Brief Summary Vision of The World The Vision of Death The Vision Of Hell The Visions of the Sleeping Bard


At the National Eisteddfod of 1893, a prize was offered by Mr. Lascelles Carr, of the Western Mail, for the best translation of Ellis Wynne's Vision of Hell. The Adjudicators (Dean Howell and the Rev. G. Hartwell Jones, M.A.), awarded the prize for the translation which is comprised in the present volume. The remaining Visions were subsequently rendered into English, and the complete work is now published in the hope that it may prove useful to those readers, who, being unacquainted with the Welsh language, yet desire to obtain some knowledge of its literature.

My best thanks are due to the Rev. J. W. Wynne Jones, M.A., Vicar of Carnarvon, for much help and valuable criticism; to the Rev. R Jones, MA., Rector of Llanfair juxta Harlech, through whose courtesy I am enabled to produce (from a photograph by Owen, Barmouth) a page of the register of that parish, containing entries in Ellis Wynne's handwriting; and to Mr. Isaac Foulkes, Liverpool, for the frontispiece, which appeared in his last edition of the Bardd Cwsc.

R. GWYNEDDON DAVIES. Caernarvon, 1st July, 1897.



Ellis Wynne was born in 1671 at Glasynys, near Harlech; his father, Edward Wynne, came of the family of Glyn Cywarch (mentioned in the second Vision), his mother, whose name is not known, was heiress of Glasynys. It will be seen from the accompanying table that he was descended from some of the best families in his native county, and through Osborn Wyddel, from the Desmonds of Ireland. His birth place, which still stands, and is shown in the frontispiece hereto, is situate about a mile and a half from the town of Harlech, in the beautiful Vale of Ardudwy. The natural scenery amidst which he was brought up, cannot have failed to leave a deep impression upon his mind; and in the Visions we come across unmistakeable descriptions of scenes and places around his home. Mountain and sea furnished him with many a graphic picture; the precipitous heights and dark ravines of Hell, its caverns and its cliffs, are all evidently drawn from nature. The neighbourhood is also rich in romantic lore and historic associations; Harlech Castle, some twenty five years before his birth, had been the scene of many a fray between Roundheads and Cavaliers, and of the last stand made by the Welsh for King Charles. These events were fresh in the memory of his elders, whom he had, no doubt, often heard speaking of those stirring times; members of his own family had, perhaps, fought in the ranks of the rival parties; his father's grand uncle, Col. John Jones, was one of those who erstwhile drank of royal blood."

It is not known where he received his early education, and it has been generally stated by his biographers that he was not known to have entered either of the Universities; but, as the following notice proves, he at least matriculated at Oxford:

WYNNE, ELLIS, s. Edw. of Lasypeys, co. Merioneth, pleb. Jesus Coll. matric. 1st March 1691 2, aged 21; rector of Llandanwg, 1705, & of Llanfair juxta Harlech (both) co. Merioneth, 1711. (Vide Foster's Index Eccles.)

Probably his stay at the University was brief, and that he left without taking his degree, for I have been unable to find anything further recorded of his academic career. {0a} The Rev. Edmund Prys, Vicar of Clynnog Fawr, in a prefatory englyn to Ellis Wynne's translation of the "Holy Living" says that "in order to enrich his own, he had ventured upon the study of three other tongues." This fact, together with much that appears in the Visions, justifies the conclusion that his scholarly attainments were of no mean order... Continue reading book >>

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