Gwyddno Garanhir

   From Lady Guest's Mabinogion Notes: -
"Gwyddno Garanhir was Sovereign of Cantref y Gwaelod, a territory bordering on the sea, and protected from its ravages by a high embankment. One evening there was revelry at the Court, and Seithenin, the son of Seithyn Saidi, King of Dyved, upon whom it devolved to look after the embankment and see that all was safe, became inebriated and neglected his charge. The consequence was that the sea broke in through the bank in the course of the night. Gwyddno and his Court escaped with difficulty from the impending ruin, and the Cantrev y Gwaelod was submerged and irretrievably lost. By this calamity sixteen fortified cities, the largest and finest that were in Wales, excepting only Caerlleon upon Usk, were entirely destroyed, and Cardigan Bay occupies the spot where the fertile plains of the Cantrev had been the habitation and support of a flourishing population. Such as escaped the inundation fled to Ardudwy, and the county of Arvon, and the mountains of Eryri (Snowdon), and other places not previously inhabited. By none was this misfortune more severely felt than by Gwyddno Garanhir, to whom the reverse of circumstances it occasioned was so great that, from being an opulent monarch, he was all at once reduced to the necessity of maintaining himself and his only son, the unfortunate Elphin, by the produce of the fishing weir mentioned in the text."
   This disastrous event is commemorated in a proverb still repeated in the Principality-
"The sigh of Gwyddno Garanhir
When the wave rolled over his land."
   There is also preserved in the Myvyrian Archaiology (I. 165), a short poem upon the subject attributed to Gwyddno Garanhir, in which there are some exceedingly poetic and striking passages. 'The bereft monarch calls upon the author of his distress to view the calamitous effects of his intemperance, pronounces maledictions upon his head, and describes the outcry of the perishing inhabitants of that unhappy region'. The poem bears a strong resemblance to some of the poems attributed to Llywarch Hen, and is probably as old as the sixth century.
"Stand forth Seithenin and behold the dwelling of heroes,-the plain of Gwyddno the ocean covers!
Accursed be the sea guard, who after his carousal let loose the destroying fountain of the raging deep.
Accursed be the watcher, who after his drunken revelry, loosed the fountain of the desolating sea.
A cry from the sea arises above the ramparts; even to heaven does it ascend,-after the fierce excess comes the long cessation!
A cry from the sea ascends above the ramparts; even to heaven does the supplication come !-after the excess there ensues restraint!
A cry from the sea awakens me this night!-
A cry from the sea arises above the winds!
A cry from the sea impels me from my place of rest this night!
After excess comes the far extending death!"
   Another composition, attributed to him, is to be found in the same collection. It is in the colloquial form, between himself and the king of Faerie, Gwyn ap Nudd.
   The magic basket of Gwyddno has a place amongst the Thirteen Precious Things of Britain.