The Bards speak of the the bond between the living and the dead, and of the bonds between the living.
They praise the deeds of the ancestors: deeds mighty and, perhaps, not so mighty, but all of the tales, nevertheless, that will keep alive the name of a man or a woman so that their descendants may rejoice in the telling of the tales.
They know the names and affairs of all within the territory of their Chair, so that they may compose the tales of the living, for the delight of their families and their friends, and which may one day join the store of memory of the tribe.
The Bards stand for culture, for poetry, for remembering, for belonging. The Bards are the warp that binds the weft of the peoples. The Bards remind us that we belong to the line of our people, and that we belong to the web that binds the tribes together despite all disputes.
The Bards stand for the rights and roles of the people. A Bard will praise kings who perform worthy deeds, so that they will be remembered beyond their days. Likewise will a Bard satirise an unjust Prince, so that his deeds, too, will be remembered.
The Bard maintains the continuity of the tribe’s culture: this is one reason why it is forbidden to harm him.
The Bard reminds us of our common humanity: he has the right to demand an immediate end to conflict. Thus, too, he may take under his protection those who have no other safety: they also may not be harmed.
The Bard must learn the genealogy of his tribe, to know the line and relations of each man and woman back to the ninth generation. This is not for idle pride. Under Welsh law, he who is found guilty of a crime must pay: he must pay for the damage caused, and he must also pay for the insult given. If he cannot pay, then his kin must meet his obligation. It is the role of the Bard to know them, and to name them, and to make them aware of their duty. This is another reason why it is forbidden to harm him.
The Bard is the repository and the source of poetry, and of music, and of community, and of culture. The Bard is the voice of the ancestors, and of the living, the defender of the weak and the bringer of friendship, the shame of those who abuse power.
It is the Bard’s duty to maintain the strength and the purity of the language, and to ensure that farmers, no less than Princes, are poets.
The Bard is the conduit for Awen; Annwn speaks through her. The Tylwyth Teg are drawn to her. Arianrhod is always beside her.
It is no small or easy thing to be a Bard.
Image credits: Sandrine Tilly & Sandrine Chatron – 19 fev. 2008 – Université du Mirail by user Alexandre Delbos on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license allowing commercial use.