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What We Should Have learned at School!,
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This review is from: Poems (Paperback)This book is a 'no frills' type of paperback published by a small company in Lampeter, Mid-Wales. It contains a few, very simple line drawings very loosely related to the subject of the book and text which looks like it has been written by some sort of ancient type-writer. However, looks can be deceptive!
Not simply a literal translation of Taliesin's poems, this book starts off outlining who Taliesin really was, where he lived, who he worked for and how the author translated the ancient texts into modern English. This is all very interesting stuff (the kind of thing they should be teaching to Welsh school children instead of the Battle of Hastings and Wild West History that I got taught, which really put me off History at the time!). Taliesin was a poet commissioned by various 'British' Kings in order to write poems of praise for them (I mean British in the original sense of the word meaning Old Welsh or Brythonic Celtic, but not including Saxon or English as the term has come to be used for today).
Meirion Pennar explains that Taliesin lived in the sixth century and was probably born in Powys, he then moved to the Welsh-speaking North of Britain (modern-day Cumberland, Westmoreland and Galloway, then known as the Kingdom of Rheged). Taliesin's main patron was Lord Urien of Rheged and many of his poems sing Urien and his warriors' praises in battle.
So many of these types of book only include the translators' version of the text. However, this version, not only includes black and white facsimiles of the original 'Llyfr Taliesin' but also more legible versions (all be it in Old Welsh) for comparison. Of course, the poems are brilliant (otherwise they would not have lasted so long) and I would recommend that anyone interested in Welsh or indeed British or Celtic history read this little book. Readers who do not have a basic understanding of Welsh may be able read this book, but the amount of Welsh personal and place names in it may not be so easy going for them.
If you are Welsh, have any Welsh ancestry or are just interested in European Dark Age history I can highly recommend this book. After all, Prof. J. R. R. Tolkien found Taliesin's work good enough to read (in it's original form as he was able to speak Welsh) and use in part as inspiration for the famous 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy and the creation of his 'Middle-Earth'!