“You will read the Mabinogeon, concerning which I ought to have talked to you. In the last, that most odd and Arabian-like story of the mouse, mention is made of a begging scholar, that helps to the date; but where did the Cymri get the imagination that could produce such a tale? That enchantment of the basin hanging by the chain from heaven is in the wildest spirit of the Arabian Nights. I am perfectly astonished that such fictions should exist in Welsh. They throw no light on the origin of romance, everything being utterly dissimilar to what we mean by that term, but they do open a new world of fiction; and if the date of their language be fixed about the twelfth or thirteenth century, I cannot but think the mythological substance is of far earlier date; very probably brought from the East by some of the first settlers or conquerors.”
KILWICH AND OLWEN
Kilydd, a son of Prince Kelyddon, desired a wife as a helpmate, and the wife that he chose was Goleudid, the daughter of Prince Anlawd. And after their union the people put up prayers that they might have an heir. And they had a son through the prayers of the people; and called his name Kilwich.
After this the boy’s mother, Goleudid, the daughter of Prince Anlawd, fell sick. Then she called her husband to her, and said to him, “Of this sickness I shall die, and thou wilt take another wife. Now wives are the gift of the Lord, but it would be wrong for thee to harm thy son. Therefore I charge thee that thou take not a wife until thou see a briar with two blossoms upon my grave.” And this he promised her. Then she besought him to dress her grave every year, that no weeds might grow thereon. So the queen died. Now the king sent an attendant every morning to see if anything were growing upon the grave. And at the end of the seventh year they neglected that which they had promised to the queen.
One day the king went to hunt; and he rode to the place of burial, to see the grave, and to know if it were time that he should take a wife: and the King saw the briar. And when he saw it, the king took counsel where he should find a wife. Said one of his counsellors, “I know a wife that will suit thee well; and she is the wife of King Doged.” And they resolved to go to seek her; and they slew the king, and brought away his wife. And they conquered the kings’ lands. And he married the widow of King Doged, the sister of Yspadaden Penkawr.
And one day his stepmother said to Kilwich, “It were well for thee to have a wife.” “I am not yet of an age to wed,” answered the youth. Then said she unto him, “I declare to thee that it is thy destiny not to be suited with a wife until thou obtain Olwen, the daughter of Yspadaden Penkawr.” And the youth blushed, and the love of the maiden diffused itself through all his frame, although he had never seen her. And his father inquired of him, “What has come over thee, my son, and what aileth thee?” “My stepmother has declared to me that I shall never have a wife until I obtain Olwen, the daughter of Yspadaden Penkawr.” “That will be easy for thee,” answered his father. “Arthur is thy cousin. Go, therefore, unto Arthur, to cut thy hair, and ask this of him as a boon.”