menu Language Is A Virus

Poetry Guide: Welsh Poetry

Welsh poetry may refer to poetry in the Welsh language, Anglo-Welsh poetry, or other poetry written in Wales or by Welsh poets.


Wales has one of the earliest literary taditions in Northern Europe, stretching back to the days of Aneurin and Taliesin (6th century), and the haunting Neuadd Cynddylan, which is the oldest recorded literary work by a woman in northern Europe.

In Welsh literature the period before 1100 is known as the period of Y Cynfeirdd ("The earliest poets") or Yr Hengerdd ("The old poetry"). It roughly dates from the birth of the Welsh language until the arrival of the Normans in Wales towards the end of the eleventh century.

From ca.1100 until ca.1600 Welsh poetry can be divided roughly into two distinct periods: the period of the Poets of the Princes who worked before the loss of Welsh independence in 1282 and the Poets of the Nobility who worked from 1282 until the period of the English incorporation of Wales in the 16th century.

The earliest poem in English by a Welsh poet dates from about 1470. Since then Anglo-Welsh poetry has become an important aspect of Welsh literary culture, as well as being influential on English literature.

Welsh poets often write under bardic names to conceal their identity in Eisteddfod competitions.

In Wales today unlike many other places, poetry today is enjoyed by a mass audience. Competitions of poets are a popular form of entertainment and the leading poets of the nation are both intellectual powerhouses and popular entertainers (imagine an amalgam of Seamus Heaney and Les Dawson).


Traditional Welsh poetic meters consist of twenty four different types written in cynghanedd.

An awdl is a form of long poem.

See also