Englyn unodle union

Englyn
The englyn is a Welsh verse form, and a difficult one. On the web, there are some definitions of the englyn that make it seem simple, but they are wrong. As well as syllable counts and rhyme, there is the important matter of cynghanedd, a concept peculiar to Celtic poetry. My first englyn (I have only written two, and have no plans to do any more) took me almost a whole afternoon to write, despite the form only having four lines. It turned out like this:

In flight, the butterfly knows utter bliss.
Sun today, soon to die,
Full of joy, life on the fly
Scales the void, the scombroid sky.

The sixth syllable of the first line rhymes with the other three lines. The syllable counts are 10, 6, 7, 7. And then there’s the cynghanedd…
Cynghanedd is an attribute of a line of poetry, and there are several kinds of it. Each is a tightly-specified structural requirement involving rhyme or alliteration, or both. There are four kinds relevant to the englyn. Each line of the englyn must exhibit some kind of cynghanedd. Some kinds can be used in particular positions within the englyn, and not others. 
My example uses all four kinds of cynghanedd, but this is not essential. The first line exhibits cynghanedd lusg, the second cynghanedd groes (which is hard to do in English), the third cynghanedd draws, and the fourth cynghanedd sain. I believe I have written a perfectly-formed englyn, but it is hard to be certain, since the requirements are so complicated. I wrote it using a description of the englyn by Dan Pugh in the magazine Poetry Nottingham International (Vol 55 No 1, Spring 2001). My butterfly englyn appeared in Vol 55 No 2 and no-one complained about it, so perhaps it really is OK. 

 

Pasted from http://www.volecentral.co.uk/vf/englyn.htm
My thanks to Bob Newman for his years of work on the wonderful Volecentral resource.

Wikipedia definitions:

Cynghanedd groes (“cross-harmony”)[edit]
All consonants surrounding the main stressed vowel before the caesura must be repeated after it in the same order. However, the final consonants of the final words of each half of the line must be different, as must the main stressed vowel of each half. For example:

clawdd i ddal / cal ddwy ddwylaw
CL Dd Dd L / C L Dd Dd L

Cynghanedd draws (partial “cross-harmony”)
Exactly as in cynghanedd groes, except that there are consonants at the beginning of the second half of the line which are not present in the series of ‘echoed’ consonants:

Rhowch wedd wen dan orchudd iâ (R. Williams Parry) [‘Place a white face under a veil of ice’]

rh……ch……dd……../.(dn)..r.ch..dd

Here the consonant sequence {rh ch dd [accent]} is repeated with different stressed vowels (short <e> and long <â>). It will be noticed that the <n> at the end of the first half plays no part in the cynghanedd: the line-final word, “iâ” instead ends in a vowel; if this word also ended in an <n>, there would be generic rhyme between the two words, which is not permitted in cynghanedd.

Note that the {d n} of the second half of the line is also not part of the cynghanedd: this is the difference between cynghanedd groes and cynghanedd draws. There may be any number of unanswered consonants in this part of the line, as long as the initial sequence of consonants and accent is repeated; compare an extreme possibility, where only one syllable is repeated:

Pla ar holl ferched y plwyf! (Dafydd ap Gwilym) [‘A plague on all the girls of the parish!’]

pl./..(r……ll.f..r.ch..d)….pl

(Words beginning with h- are treated as beginning with a vowel.)

Cynghanedd sain (“sound-harmony”)
The cynghanedd sain is characterised by internal rhyme. If the line is divided into three sections by its two caesuras, the first and second sections rhyme, and the third section repeats the consonantal patterns of the second. For example:

pant yw hwy / na llwy / na llaw
/ N Ll / N Ll

Cynghanedd lusg (“drag-harmony”)
The final syllable before the caesura in the first half of the line makes full rhyme with the penultimate syllable of the line-final polysyllabic word (i.e. the main stressed syllable of the second half). For example:

duw er ei radd / a’i addef,

My example

Self-Doubt (Englyn unodle union)
  (én-glin éen-oddle éen-yon)

She has undenied wit, yet denies it
At times she too must sit
and speculate – but a bit,
Did I peculate this hit?

© Lawrencealot – December 13, 2014

*Peculate : To embezzle (funds) or engage in embezzlement.

Visual Template

Englyn unodl union

 

Related Welsh Form are HERE.

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