Ieuan ap Hywel Swrdwal

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Ieuan ap Hywel Swrdwal (?1430 - ?1480) was a Welsh poet, from Norman stock. He composed primarily in Welsh, but was also responsible for the first known poem in the English language written by a Welshman.[1] His father Hywel Swrdwal was also a poet, and there are doubts as to whether a number of extant works should be attributed to the father or to the son. He is reputed to have composed a history of Wales, but this has not survived.

The Hymn to the Virgin was written by Ieuan at Oxford in about 1470 and uses a Welsh poetic form, the awdl, and Welsh orthography; for example:

O michti ladi, owr leding/ tw haf
at hefn owr abeiding:
yntw ddy ffest efrlesting
i set a braents ws tw bring.[2]

Literal modern English version:

O, mighty lady, our leading/ to have
at heaven our abiding:
to bring us unto the everlasting feast
ye planted a branch (= of Jesse's tree).[3]

The poem consists of 96 lines in 13 stanzas. It is an address to Christ through the Virgin Mary.

An alternative claim for the first poem in English written by a Welshman is made for John Clanvowe's The Book of Cupid, God of Love or The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, a long love poem based on The Owl and the Nightingale.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stephens, Meic (1998). The New Companion to the Literature of Wales. University of Wales Press. ISBN 0708313833.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Garlick, Raymond, and Roland Mathias, Anglo-Welsh Poetry 1480-1990. Bridgend: Seren, 1995, p.45
  3. Garlick & Mathias, p.47.

Garlick, Raymond, and Roland Mathias. Anglo-Welsh Poetry 1480-1990 (Bridgend: Seren, 1995).