Canu Urien

  • Early Welsh
  • verse

A collection of englynion mourning the death of Urien, ruler of Rheged, which is attested in the Red Book of Hergest.

Some eight to ten discrete poems or units of uneven lengths are commonly distinguished within the collection. Following Jenny Rowland (1990), these are: 1. Unhwch, beg. Dymkywarwydyat unhwch dywal (6 stt.) -- 2. Pen Urien, beg. Penn a borthaf ar [uyn] tu (stt. 7-19) -- 3. Celain Urien, beg. Y gelein veinwen a oloir hediw (stt 20-27) -- 4. Anoeth (2 stt., 28-29), beg. Anoeth byd brawt bwyn kynnull -- 5. Erfddyl, beg. Handit euyrdyl aflawen henoeth (2 stt., 30-31) -- 6. Marwnad Rhun, beg. Duw gwener gweleis y diuyd (32-35) -- 6. A stray verse beg. Mor vi gogwn vy anaf (st. 36) -- 7. Dwy Blaid, beg. Pwyllei dunawt marchawc gwein (stt. 37-41) -- 8. Elno, beg. [Gweleis] i pan las elgno (stt. 42-43) -- 9. Miscellaneous verses, beg. Ar erechwyd ethyw gwall (44-47) -- 10. Aelwyd Rheged, beg. Llawer ki geilic a hebawc wyrennic (stt. 48-59). Ifor Williams (1935) distinguishes between eight units. He prints nos. 7, 8 and 9 as though they belong together, while assigning st. 47 (beg. Tawel awel, tu hirgliw) to no. 10.

  • Early Welsh
verse (primary)
Number of stanzas
59 englynion



Yr Hen Ogledd (The Old North)narrative worlds
Yr Hen Ogledd (The Old North)
id. 64663
(fl. c.560–c.580)
Urien Rheged
Ruler of Rheged, son of Cynfarch and identified in genealogies as a descendant of Coel Hen.
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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Rowland, Jenny, Early Welsh saga poetry: a study and edition of the englynion, Cambridge: Brewer, 1990.  

Contents : Part I. Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- Chapter 1. The Llywarch Hen poems -- Appendix: early Welsh genealogical tracts -- Chapter 2. The Urien Rheged poems -- Chapter 3. Canu Heledd : I. The historical background, II. The poems -- Appendix: edition and text of Marwnad Cynddylan -- Chapter 4. Claf Abercuawg and penitential lyrics -- Chapter 5. Miscellaneous saga poems and the performance of the saga englynion -- Chapter 6. Other genres using the three-line englyn metres -- Chapter 7. Metrics, authorship, language, dating. -- Part II: Edition and translation of the texts -- The manuscripts of the saga englynion -- Editorial note -- Texts: Canu Llywarch -- Canu Heledd: Prologue, [etc.] ... [incl.] ‘Englynion Cadwallon’ -- ‘Claf Abercuawg’ and ‘Kyntaw geir’ -- Miscellaneous saga poems: Llym awel -- Geraint fab Erbin -- Gwyn ap Nudd -- Mi a wum -- Taliesin and Ugnach -- Seithennin -- Gwallawg -- Ysgolan -- Trystan fragments -- The three Juvencus englynion -- Miscellaneous stanzas. -- Translations -- Notes -- Abbreviations -- Bibliography -- General index -- Index to the textual notes.

419–428 (text); 477–486 (trasnlation); 549–571 (textual notes)
[ed.] Williams, Ifor, Canu Llywarch Hen, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1935.
Internet Archive: <link>
11–19 (text); 111–148 (notes)

Secondary sources (select)

Russell, Paul, “Three notes on Canu Urien”, North American Journal of Celtic Studies 4:1 (2020): 48–78.  

This paper discusses three terms in the run of englynion known as Canu Urien which have given rise to discussion and debate: the meaning of llad ‘strike’ or ‘kill’; the precise sense of two related phrases ry'm gallat and ry'm gallas; and what is meant by the geographical term Erechwyd or Yr Echwyd. In doing do, it draws on a wide range of evidence from other medieval Welsh prose and verse, and in one case also contributes to the understanding of a Middle Cornish verb.

Sims-Williams, Patrick, “The death of Urien”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 32 (Winter, 1996): 25–56.
Dennis Groenewegen
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February 2023