Poetic Forms: 6. Celtic Verse: The Englyn

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6. Celtic Verse: The Englyn

The Englyn
By Llinos


An englyn is a uniquely Welsh form of poetry, dating from as far back as the 6th Century AD. An englyn is beautiful in its brevity, exquisite in its diction, making remarkable use of alliteration. The poems themselves are often pointed and thought provoking.

There are many forms of englyn, but the most often used is known as englyn unodl (union). This is a form of thirty syllables arranged in lines of ten, six, seven and seven syllables. There is one end-rhyme, but in the first line one, two or three syllables layer the rhyming word, and are echoed in the first words of the second line. Cynghanedd (literally "harmony", where there is an internal alliteration) is necessary.

Englyn a thelyn a thân - ac afal
ac yfwyr mewn diddan
a gwin melys a chusan
dyn fain lwys, dyna fyw'n lân

An englyn, and a harp, a fire - and an apple
and drinkers in merriment
and sweet wine and a kiss
of a slim pure girl, that's pure life


This is an englyn I learned very early on, as my husband repeated it to me before I even learned Welsh, although it dates, as you can see, from the reign of Queen Victoria.

It is an arrangement of seven, seven, seven and, the way I say it eight, but it should probably be nine syllables. Iaith (language) sometimes stresses the first syllable and sometimes not, depending where it lands. Here it is the repetition so it's a little tricksy, but then it's the most important part of the englyn, since there was much resentment in Welsh-speaking Wales during Victorian times over the insistence that all should learn English. That's why my husband likes it, as it's a little defiant about keeping the Welsh language alive.

Llewllyn bach tyrd yma
ac ar fy neilyn ddysga
iaith dy fam yn cyntaf un
ac wedyn iaith Victoria

Little Llewllyn come here
sit on my lap to learn
the language of your mother first
and then the language of Victoria

Heddwch!

Llinos (which means linnet or thrush in Welsh BTW)

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: fileg

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Other

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 02/01/04

Original Post: 06/12/03

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