Huw Arwystli

“ARWYSTLI, HUW.— A poet who flourished between 1540 and 1590. Some say that he lived till 1594. He is known to have written at least one hundred and fifty-five poems, most of which are still to be found in manuscript in the British Museum, at Peniarth, and in other collections. In the heading of one of them he is called Huw Arwystli “of Trefeglwys.” Another curious MS. in the British Museum gives an account of him, and of the manner in which he was endowed with the poetic faculty, of which the following is a translation:—

“Huw Arwystli was a poor despised cripple, and sometimes for want of lodging was accustomed to turn aside into the church at Llandinam, in Montgomeryshire, to sleep when he came that way on his travels. And it chanced that he came that way one May eve and slept there that night, and while he was in deep slumber he in his sleep saw one coming to him and putting something into his head, and, next morning when he awoke, it happened that a maiden came by who had been gathering may and bearing an armful of may, and she said to those who were with her in passing by the window under which Huw was lying these words, ‘Not one of you will give any may to this cripple; I will give him some,’ and she tossed to him through the window a branch of fresh gathered may, and he thanked her in verse, who had never before composed or known how to compose a single stanza; and the song that he sang to her follows thus in this Englyn. And from this time he began to compose poetry, and made many masterly odes, and was in favour with the gentry of Wales during the rest of his life, and what he saw entering his head was the poetic faculty which God gave him, and which excelled any that existed in the age in which he lived.”

Lewvs Dwn, the Welsh herald, places the names of “Hugh Arwystli aud Morgan Elvael, chief musicians “among those of the generation which I saw aged and grey-headed, and who were perfect poets, duly authorised, and all graduated.” And William Lleyn thus compliments him:—

“Dysg ag addysg go weddol — o gywydd
Ag awen ysbrydol;
Odid un nad ydyw’n ol
Huw Arwystli naturiol.”

According to a British Museum MS. quoted in the Brython vol. iii. p. 137, he was buried at St. Asaph.”

Taken from: Montgomeryshire Worthies (1894) by Richard Williams

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