Welsh Bardic Verse Lesson 13

Lesson 13

Toddaid, Gwawdodyn and Gwawdodyn Hir


(XIX) Toddaid: The next step, albeit a small one, is to the toddaid.  The word toddaid translates as “solution, mixture, blending”.  In essence, the rules are the same as with the byr a thoddaid, but most of the lines are a little longer.  Begin the verse with a ten syllable line, broken by a dash one, two or three syllables before the end.  Follow with a nine syllable line.  The main rhyme on line one is before the dash.  Alliteration (cynghanedd) connects that portion of line one following the dash with the start of line two.  Rhyme the end of line one with the middle of line two.


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

9 _ _ _ _ _ cynghanedd (B) _ _ _ _ (A)

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

9 _ _ _ _ _ cynghanedd (B) _ _ _ _ (A)


Here is my example:


Waterfalls and ruined halls on hills — Wales

While timeless tales give the English chills

Our Celtic melancholy fills — oh heart!

Here to start our many mystic wills.


Predictably, once the toddaid has been mastered by itself, bards begin to add more lines to create an even more complex structure, the gwawdodyn.  Note, as we near the end of the bardic apprentice memorizing verse forms, more freedom and creativity enters the curriculum.  Rigid forms, once mastered, become building blocks which are freely added to each other in a long awdl poem.  Indeed, the bard can (and sometimes will) employ all twenty-four verse structures in one poem.  Artistically employing the different forms allow for the expression of powerful moods, emotions and rhythms.


(XX) Gwawdodyn: Etymologically, the name appears to be related to “satire” but the verse may be used for praise as well as ridicule. Having noted that, there are ancient sources warning people not to mistreat a bard, for polished poetic ridicule could ruin a reputation!  At any rate, start your satire with a nine syllable couplet, the cyhydedd naw ban, and then follow up with a thoddaid.  The result is a gwawdodyn.


9 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)

9 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (A)

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

9 _ _ _ _ _ cynghanedd (B) _ _ _ _ (A)


Tiny Soul

Megalomanic millionaire

Must live in a world of constant fear,

For they can never appear – tiny soul

To own less than a whole hemisphere!


Praise whom you wish, but it is delightful to occasionally puncture an inflated ego with a bit of barb-like verse.


(XXI) Gwawydodyn Hir: If more than one cyhydedd naw ban couplet proceeds the toddaid, the resulting stanza is called a long gwawdodyn, in Welsh, a gwawdodyn hir.


       Master Plan

  Black and white, red, yellow, puce, pink tan:

  Many are the ways to be human.

  I’m thinking; city sidewalk Tarzan,

  What gulf can jungle and desert span!

Every race that we ran—first and last

  Fits in fast … alas … what was the plan?