There are numerous tried and true techniques for delivering bardic instruction. One particularly valuable technique involves practicing cynghanedd. For these exercises, beginning students are instructed to work on individual lines. Trying to write an entire coherent poem adds a layer of challenge that can leave the student subject to writer’s block.
Focusing on individual lines may facilitate learning cynghanedd, but the student still needs a place to begin their line. Let placenames provide that place! Writing about placenames allows the student to quickly begin crafting delightful lines. Writer’s block begone! For the examples below I have made up lines using placenames from my home state of Washington.
1) Cynghanedd groes (Crossing alliteration)
“Spokane is some fun to speak in.”
2) Cynghanedd lusg (Rhyme middle of the line to the stressed penultimate syllable of the line)
“I got a good tent in Renton.”
3) Cynghanedd sain (Internal rhyme followed by alliteration)
“Ethel from Bethel moved to Bothell.”
Take some time to practice of cynghanedd sain. To make it simple let’s use monosyllable place names. Here are half a dozen monosyllable country names:
Spain, France, Wales, Chad, Greece, Laos
Write this line backwards! Pick a place name. This will end the line. Develop an alliterative equivalent. This will go in the middle of the line. Find a rhyme for the alliterative equivalent. This goes on a stressed syllable near the beginning of the line. Now write your line so that it says what you want it to say.
1) Greece... grace... face…
2) Athena, the face and grace of Greece.
I LOVE cynghanedd sain! Now you try, perhaps with all three forms of cynghanedd.