Not just any poetry, mind you. Esoteric forms of Welsh poetry.
Yes, you read that correctly. Esoteric forms of Welsh poetry.
[Editor’s note. That asterisk at the end of the title of this post is there to remind me to tell you that when I was young we had a little ditty reserved for those special moments when someone would be talking and inadvertently make a little rhyme. We would chant: “You’re a poet and don’t know it, but your feet sure do show it ’cause they're Longfellows” and then we would laugh and laugh. --RWP]
I discovered a blog the other day called Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and on it a post called I Gymryd Anadl. It introduced me to the toddaid, a type of Welsh poem. In case you didn’t know it, there are many types of Welsh poems.
Poking around in Wikipedia, I also found an entry called Traditional Welsh Poetic Meters where I learned that the traditional Welsh poetic meters consist of twenty-four different types of poetic meter, called Y Pedwar Mesur ar Hugain. They are all written in cynghanedd of varying degrees of complexity.
Although called “traditional,” they were compiled -- and later redefined at least once -- in the Late Middle Ages and omit some of the older forms such as the englyn milwr. Only a few of them were widely used by the professional poets (Beirdd yr Uchelwyr), and the use of some of the more complicated ones is confined to occasional poems of technical virtuosity dating to the end of the Middle Ages.
I know you miss the englyn milwr as much as I do, and also the Beirdd yr Uchelwyr.
As I was saying, there are twenty-four traditional Welsh poetic meters. You just know I am now going to tell you what they are:
5. Cyhydedd Fer
6. Cyhydedd Hir
7. Cyhydedd Naw Ban
9. Cywydd Deuair Fyrion
10. Cywydd Deuair Hirion
11. Cywydd Llosgyrnog
12. Englyn Proest Cyfnewidiog
13. Englyn Proest Cadwynog
14. Englyn Unodl Crwca
15. Englyn Unodl Union
16. Gorchest Beirdd
17. Gwawdodyn Byr
18. Gwawdodyn Hir
20. Rhupunt Byr
21. Rhupunt Hir
22. Rhupunt Hwyaf
23. Tawddgyrch Cadwynog
See how erudite we are becoming?
We will ignore the first 23 of the traditional Welsh poetic meters, however, and examine only the last one, number 24, the Toddaid.
Thanks be to God.
A toddaid is a couplet (two lines) of uneven length, often written in quatrain (four-line) form. In each couplet, line one contains ten syllables and line two contains nine syllables. The rhyme is internal (occurring at a place other than at the end of the line). Specifically, the fifth syllable of the first line must rhyme with the fourth syllable of the second line in each couplet. When the toddaid is extended into quatrain form (two couplets), there must also be an end rhyme in the final syllables of lines two and four.
Isn’t that simple?
Here is the pattern for the couplet, where each character represents a syllable and the capital letters represent the syllables that rhyme:
Here is the pattern for the quatrain form:
By now, following the pattern, anyone (even you) should be able to write a toddaid.
Therefore, give it the old college try and then show your fellow
Oh, one other thing. Since I am a caring and compassionate person, I hereby suspend the requirement that the toddaid be created in the Welsh language. For this little exercise, we will use English. Teacher’s pet Carolina in Nederland is the sole exception. She may write her toddaid in Dutch if she likes, but she must then translate it into English, making sure to maintain the required number of syllables and the rhyme scheme.
Here’s a toddaid of my own:
[Editor’s note 2. Are you kidding? I ain’t got no time to come up with no fool toddaid. As for the example of one that appeared on that I Gymryd Anadl post:
For we must not hide from the coming day,
locked away, far from the living earth;
The whole of humanity must be joined,
and each value the coin of rebirth.
it has the correct number of syllables in each line as well as the required end-rhymes of the second and fourth lines, but it does NOT contain either of the required internal rhymes in the couplets (well, it does, but not in the syllables indicated), so it is technically not a toddaid, I don’t care what I Gymryd Anadl says. --RWP]
[Editor’s note 3. If this post doesn’t drive away those dadblamed devotees of pole dancing (notice the alliteration, class), nothing will. --RWP]
[Editor’s note 4. Do not grumble and complain about today’s writing assignment. Just remember, I could have asked you to write cynghanedd of varying degrees of complexity. --RWP]
[Editor’s note 5. Writing a toddaid is an act done on purpose. No one has ever inadvertently written a toddaid, not even people with big feet. --RWP]
[Editor’s note 6. I believe I have set a new personal record for editor’s notes in a single post. --RWP]