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Pa Gur is the name usually given to a fragmentary poem found in the Black Book of Carmerthen. The name comes from the first two words of the poem: “Pa gur” (‘What man?’).

The poem is a dialogue between Arthur and a porter (gatekeeper). The porter announces himself as Glewlwyd Mighty-grasp but refuses to allow Arthur’s men into his house unless Arthur will vouch for them. Arthur starts to name them, often providing a short detail about their former deeds of prowess.

In particular Arthur tells of Kay (Cai), how Kay would plead with his foes as he slew them, striking them three at a time, how Kay fought with a hag in Afaranch’s hall, how Kay slew dogheads by the hundreds by Edinburgh. Then Arthur starts to praise Bedwyr but then returns to Kay, who could drink as much as four men, who fought with Llacheu, who went to Môn to fight with Palug’s Cat. Just as Arthur is getting into the details of this battle the poem breaks off.

The poem appears here as translated by Skene (I, 261–3) as newer and more accurate translations are copyright. See References below. Skene’s English translation reads:

  WHAT man is the porter?
Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr.
Who is the man that asks it?
Arthur and the fair Cai.
How goes it with thee?
Truly in the best way in the world.
Into my house thou shalt not come,
Unless thou prevailest,
I forbid it.
10 Thou shalt see it.
If Wythnaint were to go,
The three would be unlucky:—
Mabon, the son of Mydron,
The servant of Uthir Pendragon;
Cysgaint, the son of Banon;
And Gwyn Godybrion.
Terrible were my servants
Defending their rights.
Manawydan, the son of Llŷr,
20 Deep was his counsel.
Did not Manawyd bring
Perforated shields from Trywruid?
And Mabon, the son of Mellt,
Spotted the grass with blood?
And Anwas Adeiniog,
And Llwch Llawynnog
Guardians were they
On Eiddyn Cymminog,
30 A chieftain that patronised them.
He would have his will and make redress.
Cai entreated him,
While he idled every third person.
When Celli was lost
Cuelli was found; and rejoiced
Cai, as long as he hewed down.
Arthur distributed gifts,
The blood trickled down.
In the hall of Awarnach,
Fighting with a hag,
He cleft the head of Palach.
40 In the fastnesses of Dissethach,
In Mynyd Eiddyn,
He contended with Cynvyn;
By the hundred there they fell,
There they fell by the hundred,
Before the accomplished Bedwyr.
On the strands of Trywruid,
Contending with Garwlwyd,
Brave was his disposition,
50 With sword and shield;
Vanity were the foremost men
Compared with Cai in the battle.
The sword in the battle
Was unerring in his hand.
They were stanch commanders
Of a legion for the benefit of the country–
Bedwyr and Bridlaw;
Nine hundred would to them listen;
Six hundred gasping for breath
60 Would be the cost of attacking them.
Servants I have had,
Better it was when they were.
Before the chiefs of Emrais
I saw Cai in haste.
Booty for chieftains
Was Gwrhir among foes,
Heavy was his vengeance,
Severe his advance.
When he drank from the horn,
70 He would drink with four.
To battle when he would come
By the hundred would he slaughter;
There was no day that would satisfy him.
Unmerited was the death of Cai.
Cai the fair, and Llachau,
Battles did they sustain,
Before the pang of blue shafts.
In the heights of Ystavingon
Cai pierced nine witches.
80 Cai the fair went to Mona,
To devastate Llewon.
His shield was ready
Against Cath Palug
When the people welcomed him.
Who pierced the Cath Palug?
Nine score before dawn
Would fall for its food.
Nine score chieftains.

ReferencesEdit

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