For extra practice with your rhymes, alliteration, asonance and consonance
There are twenty-four official meters in Welsh verse. I list the names, definitions, and
examples -- for pronunciation, you are all on your own.
These are taken from Rolfe Humphries' GREEN ARMOR ON GREEN GROUND. He in
turn followed AN INTRODUCTION TO WELSH POETRY by Gwyn Williams.
- 1. Cyhydedd Fer
- A rhymed couplet of 8-syllable lines.
Wales, which I have never seen,
Is gloomy, mountainous and green,
- 2. Englyn Penfyr
- A stanza of three lines, of ten, seven, and seven syllables. The main rhyme is folowed,
in the first line, by one, two, or three syllables, and echoed at the start of the second
line by rhyme, alliteration, or assonance.
High over the sea stands a fine stronghold,
Old, but less old than the long
Beat and boom of ocean song
- 3. Englyn Milwr DD>A stanza of three lines, on one rhyme, seven
syllables to each line.
Pure gold, they said in her praise:
So I walk my autumn ways
Around me a golden haze
From the ground, in leaves, in air --
Oh, everywhere, everywhere! --
To save, to spend, and to share.
- 4. Englyn Unodl Union A four line stanza, ten, six, seven and seven
syllables respectively. One, two or three syllables after the main rhyme on the first line,
echoed at the beginning of the second.
In his high hall, at the head table,there
Was where his high bard fed.
The king's son gave him bread
And a princess poured his mead.
- 5. Englyn Unodl Crwca
- Four line stanza, like Englyn unodl union but the syllable count of the lines goes
seven, seven, ten, six. There is the same echoing of the syllables from the first line
after the main rhyme.
Speak them slowly, space them so:
say them soft, or sing them low,
Words whose way we may not know any more.
Still, before the days go,
Sing them low, or say them soft.
Such a little while is left
To counterpoint the soundless drift of Time,
Let rhyming fall and lift.
- 6. Englyn Cyrch
- Stanza of four lines, seven syllables each. Lines on, two, and four rhyme; line three
rhymes into the middle of line four.
Wooden staff, the time has come
Of the fall of leaf, autumn.
Bracken reddens; all those men
Who praised Llywarch Hen are dumb.
- 7. Englyn Proest Dalgron
- Four lines, seven syllable per line, off-rhyming on vowels or dipthongs. The rhymed
syllables must be all short or all long.
In that sweet, mild western air
Castle stones are russet fire
Wind goes gentle, water lear,
A minute is a quarter hour.
- 8. Englyn Lledfbroest
- Four lines, seven syllables each. In elsh, the rhymes must be the four dipthongs ae,
oe, wy, ei. In English, cheat.
Though her breathing seem a sigh
Never break her slumber's joy.
sleep is caring for her now;
Sleep will do as much for you.
- 9. Englyn Proest Gadwynog
- Four lines, seven syllables each. Lines one and three rhyme; lines two and four
off-rhyme with one and three, and with each other.
Water bulrush, water-willow
From the margin of the hollow
Shade thy bed and shape thy pillow,
Time be slow and apple-mellow.
- 10. Awdl Gywydd
Four seven-syllable lines; lines two and four rhyme; lines one and three rhyme into the
third, fourth, or fifth syllables of lines two and four.
Softly let the measure break
Till the dancers wake, and rise,
Lace their golden shoes, and turn
Toward the stars that burn their eyes.
- 11. Cywydd Deuair Hirion
- Couplets, of seven-syllable lines, rhyming a stressed with an unstressed syllable.
Softly let the measure flow,
Float in silver, and follow.
- 12. Cywydd Deuair Fyrion
- Rhymed four-syllable couplets.
- Two examples:
Mistress of horse,
Marshalled a troupe
Matched, head to croup,
Marched through the dales
Mauling all males.
Bells in autumn
Toll a rhythm
Slow and solemn
To the kingdom
Of the lonesome.
- 13. Cywydd Llosgyrnog
- Six line stanza: syllables run eight, eight, seven; eight, eight, seven. Lines one and
two rhyme with the middle of line three; lines four and five rhyme with the middle of line
sis; lines three and six rhyme with each other.
Robed in their blue or white or green,
Solemn and bearded, tall and lean,
Of Druid mien, the old men
One in a golden corselet, go,
Better to listen, to and fro,
Over and over again.
- 14. Rhupunt
- A line of three, four, or five section, with four syllables each. All but the last
section rhyme with each other; the last section carries the main rhyme.
Keen is the wind,
Barren the land.
A man could stand
On a single stalk.
Cattle are lean,
the stag is thin,
All color wan
On the frozen lake.
Note: I know the last line of these stanzas is five syllables. These are the only
examples I have. Obviously, even Welsh poets fudge a bit.
- 15. Byr a thoddaid
- This measure combines the eight-syllable couplet with another type of couplet called
toddaid byr. Toddaid byr consists of ten syllables, then six; in the ten-syllable line the
main rhyme is found before the end, and the syllables that follow must be linked -- by
alliteration, rhyme, or assonance -- with the early syllables in the six-syllable
Dark is this maze wherein I err.
No Theseus I; no comforter,
No Ariadne at my side, to hold
Her golden skein as guide.
- 16. Clogyrnach
- Begins with an eight-syllable couplet, followed by lines of five, five, three, three
syllables. The three, three pair may be written as one six-syllable line. The five syllable
lines rhyme with each other and with the first of the threes; second three rhymes with the
Follow the feather down the air,
Save fernseed from the maidenhair,
Study on the tide
Straws that drift and slide
Sown the wide ocean stair
- 17. Cyhydedd Naw Ban
- Nine syllable lines, rhyming in couplets, often continuing the same rhyme through the
Wmffre the Sweep was mad as mink,
Covered with cinders, blacker than ink,
Didn't mind darkness, didn't mind stink;
Light was his loathing, light made him blink
Coming through crevice, cranny or chink.
Drank through his whiskers, dust in his drink.
- 18. Cyhydedd Hir Lines of five, five, five and four syllables
(sometimes arranged as single nineteen syllable lines). First three lines rhyme with each
other; the fourth line carries the main rhyme.
'Tis sorrow and pain,
'Tis endless chagrin
For Dafydd to gain
His dark-haired girl.
Her house is a gaol,
Her turnkey a vile
Sour, yellow-eyed, pale
- 19. Toddaid
- Quatrains, alternating between ten-syllable and nine-syllable lines. A syllable toward
the end of the first line rhymes into the middle of the second; the same effect in three
and four. Lines two and four rhyme with each other.
The Tylwyth Teg live in caves and mountains;
Far under the waves they fold their herds.
As beautiful as the day, their women
Are wise in the way of beasts and birds.
- 20. Gwawdodyn
- Each stanza begins with the nine-syllable couplet, Cyhydedd naw ban, and continues with
either Toddaid or Cyhydedd hir.
A light-capped sea, and a bird-bright shore --
Whatever else was I looking for,
With sun at my back, blue sky above me?
A dark haired girl by an open door.
- 21. Gwawdodyn Hir
- Like Gwawdodyn above, except the stanza begins with two nine-syllable couplets.
Cloud over hill, cloud over hollow;
Why do you wait beside your window?
The south wind sighs, a sound of sorrow.
From far away the faint horns echo.
The hours are long, the daylight slow to leave.
For the moment, grieve in the shadow.
- 22. Hir a Thoddaid
- A ten-syllable quatrain followed by a Toddaid.
Lie still, ye thief, an hear the lady sing
In her own language, the confederate's tongue
Old Llywarch used, and Heledd, for their longing --
Blossom on branch, and osprey on the wing,
And Olwen's footprint in the morning mist.
Lie still, ye thief; listen to the song.
- 23. Cyrch a chwta
- A stanza of six seven-syllable lines followed by an Awdl gywydd couplet.
The bells of Aberdovey
Sound from a buried city
Sunken far under the sea,
Heard when the nights are stormy
And carried inland, faintly,
As far as Montgomery.
Hearken! Music of the lost
Haunts that coast, all shadowy.
- 24. Tawddgyrch cadwynog
- Like Rhupunt, except the rhymes appear in A, B, B, C order.
It is lonely.
In these short days
Without her praise
I, too, grow less.
The Druids' tree
Is far more wise
In the mean ways
Cynghanedd: patterns of interlocking harmony
- A. Cynghanedd Draws
- Alliteration only at the beginning and end of the line.
A cat may look at a king.
- B. Cynghanedd Groes
- All of the first half of the line alliterates (or shares consonance) with all of the
On a settee in the city.
- C. Cynghanedd Sain
- Two words within the line must rhyme; the second must alliterate, but not rhyme, with
the last word in the line.
In the park, in the dark, I dare.
- D. Cynghanedd Lusg
- The last syllable of some word in the earlier part of the line must rhyme with the next
to the last syllable of the last word, which must be a word of two or more syllables with
the accent on the next to the last syllable.
Begin to sing in winter.