The legend of Taliesin

The legend of Taliesin

Parent & Teacher Guidance
The legend of Taliesin

Many Welsh legends are very strange.

This is the legend of Taliesin. Ceridwen the witch lived with her husband, Tegid Foel, near Bala, Gwynedd (Llyn Tegid is the correct name in Welsh for Bala Lake and was named after him) and they had two children. Creirfyw was the most beautiful girl in the world, but their son, Morfran, was the ugliest boy in the world.

Ceridwen was quite concerned about her son, so she made him a special drink in order to make him wise. She boiled herbs in a magic cauldron for a year and a day and at the end of that time, Morfran was supposed to drink the last three drops. Her servant, Gwion Bach, helped her with the drink. Unfortunately, one day, when he was helping to stir the drink, he swallowed a drop and was endowed with the gift of poetry.

Ceridwen went wild and chased after Gwion Bach. As the drink was magic, Gwion Bach turned into a hare. The magic drink had given him a special ability. The next minute, Ceridwen, the witch, turned herself into a speedy greyhound and ran as fast as she could after him.

Ceridwen was about to catch Gwion when he reached a river. So Gwion turned into a fish and jumped into the water. She turned into an otter to hunt in the river and although Gwion swam faster down the river, Ceridwen was closing in on him.

Suddenly, Gwion jumped out of the river and turned into a bird, but Ceridwen turned herself into a falcon, flying after him like a flash of lightning. Gwion managed to fly away from her but the falcon was a much faster bird and Ceridwen was soon on his tail.

Then Gwion had an idea: why not turn into a seed of corn? So he turned into a seed and fell to earth into the middle of a heap of corn. It was safe, he thought. Ceridwen would never be able to find him. But no - Ceridwen was close once again. She had turned herself into a chicken and was starting to eat the corn. She ate all the corn, including Gwion!

Nine months later, Ceridwen had a baby, Gwion Bach, the seed of corn she had swallowed. Although she was angry with Gwion Bach, she couldn't kill him. He was such a beautiful baby. But Morfran was angry, so Ceridwen wrapped the baby in a leather bag and threw it into the sea at Barmouth.

Morfran hoped that Gwion Bach would drown but, some time later, he was found by Gwyddno Garanhir near Borth, some miles north of Aberystwyth. Gwyddno Garanhir was the king of Cantre’r Gwaelod and he took Gwion Bach home and named him Taliesin.

As he grew up, everyone saw that Taliesin was a very able boy and that he spoke in poetry. He was an amazing boy.

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