Welsh Bardic Verse Lesson 14

Lesson 14


Hir a Thoddaid, Cyrch a Chwta


Tawddgyrch Cadwynog


(XXII) Hir a Thoddaid, or “long mixture” is almost identical to the gwawydodyn.  It simply uses ten syllable lines throughout, rather than a nine syllable cyhydedd naw ban couplet before the toddaid.  Additionally, cynghanedd is not strictly required between the last lines of the toddaid.


10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A

10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A

10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A

10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A

10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A _ _ _ B

10 _ _ _ _ _ B _ _ _ _ _ A

Here is my example:

  Ancient Forms

Are these ancient forms a gift or a curse?

Shall virtue peruse gold in a new purse?

Immeasurable unless you immerse

Yourself for years and years, or maybe worse.

But when your words can coerce – oh that sound!

You’ll find these forms will firmly ground your verse.


(XXIII) Cyrch a Chwta; Next on the list of required forms is the cyrch a chwta, meaning roughly “attack and save”.  While this has never been one of the more popular forms of Welsh bardic verse, it is part of the required curriculum.  Begin with six lines, seven syllables each, all ending in the same rhyme.  Complete the stanza with an awdl gywydd couplet.  (Recall, an awdl gywydd is a seven syllable couplet wherein the rhyme at the end of line one matches an internal rhyme at the middle of line two.  Line two ends with the main rhyme.)  The cyrch a chwta has two other requirements:  Every line must begin with the same letter.  Using the same word at the start of successive lines is desirable. The Welsh term for that is cymeriad “confluence”.   Finally, each line, excepting the awdl gywydd must have alliterative cynghanedd gutsain.  The repeating consonants may begin after the first word in each line. The intersection of all of these rules in one stanza is complex, challenging, and I hope, fun!


X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A (cynghanedd)

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A (cynghanedd)

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A (cynghanedd)

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A (cynghanedd)

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A (cynghanedd)

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A (cynghanedd)

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B

X _ _ _B _ _ _ _ A

  Balance Sheet

Always fit your greatest feat,

Always sit your strongest seat,

Always knot your ribbons neat,

Always strut your hometown street,

Always chat but never cheat,

Always hit your heart with heat,

Always, friend, I truly say,

Always weigh the balance sheet.


(XXIV) Tawddgyrch cadwynog;  We have arrived at the end of the twenty-four required measures.  The name of the last one is tawddgyrch cadwynog.  “Tawdd” means “blended,” or, as here, in a compound word, “completion”.  Gyrch means “attack”. Not only is “gyrch” part of the name of the proceeding verse (in the mutated form “cyrch”) but it was also a word that we met early on in this course.  It described the opening two lines of an englyn unodl union.  This is the “attack” wherein an “arrow” or “shaft” flies in to start the verbal game between bards.  Cadwynog means “chain”.  Reverse the syntax to go from English to Welsh, and you see that with this measure, you have a chain that completes the blended attack.  What a verse form!  Almost every syllable loops back in on itself with rhythm, internal rhyme, end rhyme, alliteration, and linked first words.


The structure of the tawddgyrch cadwynog is very similar to the four syllable phrasing of a rhupunt.  The rhyme scheme is b, c, c, a, b, c, c, a.  It is often written with two phrases per line, resulting in a quatrain.


X _ _ _ _ B _ _ _ _ C

X _ _ _ _ C _ _ _ _ A

X _ _ _ _ B _ _ _ _ C

X _ _ _ _ C _ _ _ _ A


Here is a single verse example of mine.


We can go down wicked highways

We can sleep days while we leap years

We can paint town, even Hell raise

We can change ways, if we fear tears!


With the mastery of this little used poetic form, all of the required curriculum has been covered.  The preceding two dozen verse structures, and knowledge of cynghanedd, are the core of bardic lore.  There is still a great deal of information relating to Welsh bardic life, law and literature that is important.  Lessons on those topics are ahead, but from here on in, one need not know everything.  The following are important topics, but they are not required.  The same is not true of the lessons that have gone before.  They constitute a required curriculum that every true Welsh bard has learned.