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The Dialogue of Melwas and Gwenhyfer (Llanstephan 122)

Source: Williams, Mary. "An Early Ritual Poem in Welsh." Speculum vol. 13 no. 1. January 1938. pp 38-51.

Melwas
Black is my steed and brave beneath me
No water will make him fear
And no man will make him swerve

Gwenhyfar
Green is my steed of the tint of leaves
No disgrace like his who boasts and fails:
He is no man who fulfills not his word

Gwenhyfar
........................................
..................in the forefront of the fray
No man holds out but Kei the tall, son of Sevin

Melwas
It is I that will ride and will stand,
And walk heavily on the brink of the ebb:
I am the man to hold out against Kei.

Gwenhyfar
Pshaw, young man, it is strange to hear thee!
Unless thou be other than thou lookest
Thou wouldst not, on of a hundred, hold against Kei

Melwas
Gwenhwyvar of the bright face
Do not insult me small though I be:
I would hold against a hundred myself

Gwenhyfar
Pshaw, young man of black & yellow!
After scanning long thy looks
Methought I had seen thee before

Melwas
Gwenhwyvar of the ......... face
Tell me if you know it
Where you saw me before

Gwenhyfar
I have seen a man of moderate size
At Arthur's long table in Devon
Dealing out wine to his friends

Melwas
Gwenhwyvar of facetious speech
It is woman's nature to banter:
There it is thou didst me see


Note from Mary Jones:

I have heard this poem called both "The Dialogue of Melwas and Gwenhyfar" and "The Dialogue of Arthur and Gwenhyfar."  The former seems to make more sense, of course, and so I have stuck with Melwas (the Melegant of Malory) instead of Arthur.  I'm not sure what manuscript this comes from; I saw it alluded to in The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, and had a friend send me a copy of the poem.  It obviously is about the abduction episode, a summary of which which can be read of in The Life of Gildas.

According "Life of Gildas" by Caradoc of Llancarfan:

"Whilst Gildas was at Glastonbury a strange incident took place:

At this time Melwas was king of what is now called Somerset ; he had carried off Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), Arthur's queen. Thereupon Arthur laid siege to Glastonbury, whither Melwas had retired, but was not able to effect much, "because of the protection of the marsh, river, and due to the fortifications of the reeds, " and Melwas retained Gwenhwyfar there for a whole year.

Arthur had convoked the levies of " Cornubia and Dibnenia," and the monks of the Holy Isle were feeling the inconvenience of the siege. So, the abbot, along with Gildas, interposed; and Arthur, very unheroically, expressed himself ready to forgive and forget if his wife were sent back to him. Gwenhwyfar was accordingly returned to her husband, and the two princes met on good terms; and in token of fraternal union visited together the church of Glastonbury.


What is interesting is that it makes some implication that it is Kei (Kay) who is having an affair with Gwenhyfar and not Lancelot, who is non-existent.