What Is a Bard

The term bard refers to a professional poet who works for a renowned person especially someone in the higher ranks of the ministry. In the medieval British culture, nobleman used to employ poets to write poems praising the employer’s activities or their ancestors.

Bard also refers to a specific class of poets or authors or songwriters or narrators which can be compared to the other class at the time.   

Detailed History

The word, bard is a Scottish Gaelic term which derives its meaning from proto-celtic word bardos. The  bards came into  existence during the renaissance era especially in Scotland and Ireland. The bard were poets who were hired by the Lords to write eulogies on them. There poetry is known as bardic poetry.

If the employer failed to pay for their work or not paid up to their expectation then these poets wrote scornful poems known as satire poems. Bards class functioned similar to that of rhapsodes, minstrels, scops, skalds, and fili. Their themes and genres were different.

Bards are renowned in the history for their descriptive laudatory poems. They usually lauded the bravery of a warrior in a battle, eulogies about heritage, empire of a king or ruling strata. No proper details describing bards and their lives exist. Nevertheless, Celtic people did have some poems and memories describing the bards and their literature. These memories were termed as rhyme of time. However, for a while the term bard went into oblivion but were seen again in the Romanticism era.

In the romanticism era, the bards ventured in the English language rather than Gaelic. Their genre also changed as they leaped into lyric poetry. Sir John Walters have been described in history as an idealist  of such lyric poems and bards.

Irish and Welsh Bards

The medieval Ireland saw two class of poets, bards and fili. According to Uraicecht Becc, the old Irish book bard represented inferior class of poets and were unentitled for royal poetic duties. The introduction of Christian Ireland has been described as the point which lead to the separation of the two poetic class. The church supported the works of Fili and declared them “elite poetic class” until its withdrawal of poetic class organization during the Renaissance period.  

In Ireland, the bards formed there very own clan and their stayed there for a long time. These bards formed a new caste in society and even Bardic society and schools were present until 17th century.

The welsh bards shared the same fate in Wales.  However, the bardic age in wales saw two legends, Aneirin and Taliesin. Anerrin was a dark age bardic poet and complete life and work is summed in the Book of Aneirin. Taliesin was a British bard and was renowned in the courts in the post roman era. However, Welsh bard existed till 13th century and were never reintroduced in Medieval Welsh literature.   

Notable Bards

William Shakespeare and Robert Burns are historically referred as bards many times.