Traditional Welsh-language poetry is known as ‘strict-metre poetry’ (canu caeth) because it follows very clearly defined rules regarding metre and the use of cynghanedd (the repetition of consonants according to certain pre-defined patterns). Included in the twenty four categories of strict-metre poems are various types of three- and four-lined verses known as ENGLYNION (singular: englyn). The four-line English englyn below (written by the Welsh-language poet Twm Morys as a humorous illustration) follows all the complex rules of the type of englyn known as the englyn unodl union:
I travelled to a river – and I found
A fish all of silver.
I watched him growing dimmer;
Maybe love made him a blur.
Below, an englyn unodl union in Welsh:
Ei aberth nid â heibio - ei wyneb 'His sacrifice will not be passed over - his dear face
Annwyl nid â'n ango', Will not be forgotten,
Er i'r Almaen ystaenio Even though Germany has stained
Ei dwrn dur yn ei waed o. Her iron fist in his blood'
(This was written by the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans) in memory of a friend who was killed in the First World War. Following Hedd Wyn’s own death at Passchendaele in 1917, it was inscribed on his memorial in the village of Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd).
Click here to read an amusing account of Welsh strict metre poetry by Twm Morys.