Taliesin

In the coracle lay a sleeping child, clothed in splendid apparel

Taliesin

CharactersName Variants: Taliessin, Talyessin, Teliesin, Talgesin, ThelgesinusBackground Essay Author: Dianne Evanochko
Taliesin "of the shining brow" is a mytho-historical character generally associated with early Wales and North Western Britain in the 6th century AD. He is a figure belonging to both history, as an important Old Welsh court poet, and to mythology, as a magician and seer in both Celtic and Arthurian legend. The fictive and quasi-fictive literature that uses Taliesin, as either a significant or minor character, often combines these two aspects to varying degrees: he is depicted as both a poet (though rarely in the historically accurate court) and as a seer in possession of magical or seemingly magical powers and knowledge. However, historians and literary scholars are careful to keep the two figures separate.
 
Taliesin Ben Beirdd (chief of the bards), as Taliesin the poet is also known, is considered one of the most significant Old Welsh bards. The poems associated with him are perhaps the oldest surviving Old Welsh poems and because of this some scholars of Welsh literary tradition, such as Saunder’s Lewis, have referred to the Welsh poetic tradition that followed as “Taliesinic.” What’s more, he is also frequently used as an iconic symbol of Welsh literature and poetry.
 
Taliesin is historically associated with the courts of King Urien and Owain ab Urien of Rheged One early and well known biographer, Sir Ifor Williams (1881-1965), posits an earlier career in the more southerly Powys and positions him as bard to the chieftain Cynan Garwyn. He bases this hypothesis on suggestions from the poems themselves, though these surmises, as well as the correct dating of the work attributed to Taliesin, have come under some debate for both linguistic and contextual reasons. Indeed a number of the poems attributed to Taliesin have been dated to a much later...

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