Welsh Bardic Verse Lesson 12

Lesson 12

Byr a Thoddaid and Clogynarch


An apprentice bard may start to recognize trends, or patterns in metrical development.  Different verse structures follow each other in predictable sequences.  Because of that, some of the more complex meters often feel part way familiar.  Both the byr a thoddaid and the clogynarch are likely to elicit such feelings.


(XVII)   Byr a thoddaid, which means “short mixture” is a blending of two types of lines which we have already studied.  Draw your metaphorical bow and shoot the shaft of an englyn unodl union.  Remember, the shaft is a ten syllable line followed by a six syllable line.  The first, long line is broken with a dash one, two or three syllables before the end of the line.  The main rhyme comes before the dash. The tag of line one alliterates with the start of line two.  Making the byr a thoddaid an exceptionally complex verse, the end of the tag also rhymes with the middle of line two.  By this point students should be well practiced at writing these two lines.  Follow with a cyhydedd fer, a string of eight syllable long couplets.  In my example, only one couplet follows, but lengthy chains are often used.


10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A) _ _ _ (B & cynghanedd)

      6 (cynghanedd & B) _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)

   8 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)

   8 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)


            No Rainbow

If painters could only daub one hue – drab

        Dismal dab, single view;

  One color, never something new.

  One and done, no one misconstrue.


(XVIII)  Clogynarch, is a great name.  This old Welsh word means “craggy, rugged, clumsy”.  The name gives away the nature of the verse.  It has a strong driving rhythm, a bit uneven but fast.  The clogynarch is well suited to light verse.  It’s inclusion in the twenty-four required bardic measures is testimony to pan-Celtic kinship, for it is very close to a Limerick.  It doesn’t have the required place name in the beginning, as a Limerick does, but having studied cynghanedd through the use of place names, you know where that comes from.  The Welsh clogynarch is a combination of a cyhydedd fer and a long rhupunt.  As above, the cyhydedd fer is a couplet of eight syllable long lines.  The rhupunt has four sections of five, five, five and three syllables.  These are written in three lines, as shown below.  The five syllable sections all rhyme with each other.  The three syllable section carries the main rhyme with the clogynarch.


8 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)

8 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)

5 _ _ _ _ _ (B)

5 _ _ _ _ _ (B)

8 _ _ _ _ _ (B) _ _ _ (A)


 Wide, Wild and Fair

Feel the rain flow down to your root.

Go barefoot, no green garden boot.

Soak every drop in

Renewing your skin

Wash a bit of sin from your suit.