Gwaith Dafydd Ap Gwilym NotesNotesGDG 99Dafydd ap Gwilym often exaggerates his suffering and he even forecasts his untimely death should Morfudd (and others) spurn and reject him. In this poem Dafydd fancifully imagines that an unnamed maiden has caused his death, and in order to make amends for her act of cruelty towards the innocent poet she is obliged to do penance in the form of a pilgrimage to the shrine of David, the patron saint of Wales. Pilgrimages were a common feature of medieval life. Holy relics at home (such as the shrine of Winifred in Holywell in the north or the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Pen-rhys in Morgannwg in the south) and abroad (Rome, Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela) would be visited to seek cures from afflictions and to seek blessing. Pilgrimages were also seen as a means of gaining absolution from sin or misconduct, see G. Hartwell Jones, 'Celtic Britain and the Pilgrim Movement', Y Cymmrodor xxiii (1912). The journey to be undertaken from Anglesey in the north to St David's which is located at the most westerly point of Pembrokeshire in the south is described in graphic detail. The crossing of rivers represented one of the greatest challenges to the medieval traveller in Wales, and several poets had cause to castigate rivers which had hindered their journeys to visit their patrons. Dafydd ap Gwilym himself expressed his frustration after his attempts to reach Llanbadarn where Morfudd was waiting for him were thwarted by the river Dyfi (poem 51). On this occasion Dafydd lists twelve rivers which the maiden will have to traverse one by one. It soon becomes apparent that the guilty maiden will not only have to endure a lengthy journey but one which is fraught with perils, and both suggest the extent of her offence. Nevertheless the poet calls upon each river to facilitate her progress and wishes that she should be forgiven at the end of her journey.2. lleian This is rather ambiguous. It could suggest that the maiden was in fact a nun (and see poem 43 where Dafydd sends his messenger to the Cistercian nunnery at Llanllugan to entice a member of the establishment) or that she was of fair complexion. The white habit worn by nuns enables Dafydd to compare the seagull to a nun on another occasion, cf. 45.10.3. Non David's mother was the daughter of Cynyr, see LBS iv, 22-5. Most of what is known about her is recorded in Rhygyfarch's Life of David.16. Menai Afon Menai separates Anglesey from the mainland.18. Llyfni It reaches the sea a few miles to the south of Caernarfon.19. Y Traeth Mawr The estuary of the river Glaslyn which was reclaimed from the sea when the cob was built at Porthmadog in the 18th c.21. Y Bychan Draeth Y Traeth Bychan, the estuary of the river Dwyryd in close proximity to Y Traeth Mawr.24. Ertro Fawr The river Artro, as it is commonly known, reaches the sea in the vicinity of Llanbedr in Meirionethshire. It has two branches and it appears that both were formerly known by the same name, Artro Fawr and Artro Fechan.25. Abermaw Y Bermo is located at the northern side of the river Mawddach.28. Dysynni It reaches the sea near Tywyn in Meirionethshire.29. Dyfi See introductory note; the subject of poem 51.31-3. Rheidol...Ystwyth Both rivers reach the sea in the vicinity of Aberystwyth but it is the river Rheidol which flows through Aberystwyth itself.35. Aeron Situated between Ystwyth to the north and Teifi to the south.37. Teifi This river which reaches the sea at Aberteifi (Cardigan) represents the boundary between Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire.41. porffor 'Of this colour [purple] as being the hue of mourning, or of penitence', see OED xii:875. The earliest example quoted belongs to the 15th c. but it would seem to represent a much earlier tradition.