Coded Welsh Forms

There are 24 traditional Welsh forms of poetry, divided into the Awdl, the Cywyddau, and the Englynion. Some day I would like to master all 24 Welsh forms, or at the very least the pronunciation of them all.

The two poems I'm going to share with you today are both from the Awdl class. In ancient times the Awdls were the territory of the chief or master bard.

First we have the Clogyrnach (clog-ír-nach), the 16th form, which is rarely used by today's poets.

The Clogyrnach contains thirty-two syllables in a six-line stanza. The first two lines have eight syllables each; the second two, five; the third two, three. The last two lines may be written as a single, six-syllable line. There are only two rhymes per stanza, and there can be any number of stanzas.


An earthen sky of amber hue
A canvas on which dreams may brew
A zephyr blowing
Past rivers flowing
You pass through.

A stormy sea of hopes and dreams
Where nothing is quite like it seems
Reality skewed
Sanity unglued
Changing mood
Endless themes.

No order to the chaos here
Where wisdom’s just a thin veneer
Passions are higher
Truth is a liar
Wake from here.

The second is the Gwawdodyn (gwow-doed-in-heer) and is, as near as I can determine, the 21st of the coded meters. It is a six line poem consisting of a quatrain of nine syllable lines, followed by a Toddaid (toeth-eyed), a couplet of one ten syllable line and one nine syllable line.


Pray, what is it that you dream at night
That shreds your rest with so much delight
Leaving you poised on the verge of flight
Wrapping you up in its talons tight;
With eyes open wide and nowhere to hide
Cower in fear until the first light.

If you're interested in learning more about Welsh poetry, a good place to start would be AllPoetry and their three part article by Julia H. West.

You can also check out The Poet's Garret for many fine examples of all the coded forms.

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