Welsh Bardic Verse Lesson 8

Lesson 8

Additional Cywyddau

There are three more types of cywyddau to introduce.  None have been as popular as Daffydd ap Gwilym’s cywydd dauair hirion, but each is an interesting form in its own right.  Furthermore, they are part of a Welsh bard’s required curriculum.

 (X) Awdl Gywydd: Let’s begin with awdl gywydd.  Awdl is often translated as the Welsh word for “ode” and gywydd is simply a mutated form of the by now familiar word cywydd.  Mutations are much too complex to tackle here.  Suffice it to say that, in Welsh, a word’s initial consonant may change pronunciation, depending upon its context.  Returning our attention to the awdl gywydd; think of this as two seven syllable couplets put together to form a quatrain, but a quatrain with an interesting rhyme scheme.  Line one rhymes with the middle of line two.  Line two ends with the main rhyme.  Line three rhymes with the middle of line four.  Line four carried the main rhyme.  This replicates with words what visual artists do with knotwork.  Everything is braided together.

Seven syllables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhyme A)

Seven syllables _ _ _ (rhyme A) _ _ _ _ (rhyme B)

Seven Syllables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhyme C)

Seven syllables _ _ _ (rhyme C) _ _ _ _ (rhyme B)


Here is an example of mine:


Dygwyl Dewi


Did David roam his homeland

To expand prideful caprice?

Reconcile his trial with truth:

David walked, in youth, for peace.


  (Harp Strings p. 8)


(XI) Cywydd Fyrion: The next form, the cywydd deuair fyrion or short lined couplet, is simply a string of four syllable couplets.  This gives a very choppy rhythm and is rarely used, except as an exercise for students.

  Break out the book

  And take a look.

  She may be bold,

  You know she’s old

  While telling tales

  Of ancient Wales.


(XII) Cywydd Llosgyrnog: The final cywydd, the cywydd llosgyrnog (cywydd with a tail) is thought to have been modeled after a type of Latin hymn common in the medieval church.  Think of this form as two triplets linked together to create a verse of six lines.  For the first three lines, lines one and two are eight syllables long.  They rhyme with each other and the middle of line three.  Repeat this pattern for the next three lines.  Line six carries the main rhyme with line three. 

8 syllables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhyme A)

8 syllables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhyme A)

7 syllables _ _ _ (rhyme A) _ _ _ _  (rhyme B)

8 syllables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhyme C)

8 syllables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (rhyme C)

7 syllables _ _ _ (rhyme C) _ _ _ _  (rhyme B)


Here is an example of mine:


   Rim of Dim Dawn


Rash Brutus of the flashing eye

And Corineus, his bold ally;

Trojan knights of high descent,

Dominated a new domain,

Liberated an island reign,

Land that had lain in lament


  (Harp Strings p. 10)

This completes our study of the cywyddau forms.  Coupled with our studies of englynion forms, we have now looked at twelve of the required twenty-four measures a Welsh bard must master.  At this point, we’re half of a bard!