Gwawdodyn: Poetic Forms

The gwawdodyn is a Welsh poetic form with a couple variations. However, both versions are comprised of quatrains (4-line stanzas) that have a 9/9/10/9 syllable pattern and matching end rhymes on lines 1, 2, and 4. The variations are made in that third line:

  • One version has an internal rhyme within the third line. So there’s a rhyme somewhere within the third line with the end rhyme on the third line.
  • The other version has an internal rhyme within the third line that rhymes with an internal rhyme in the fourth line.

In both cases, the rhyme starts somewhere in the middle of the third line and it is a unique rhyme to the end rhyme in lines 1, 2, and 4.

Here’s a possible diagram for the first version (with the x’s symbolizing syllables):

1-xxxxxxxxa
2-xxxxxxxxa
3-xxxxbxxxxb
4-xxxxxxxxa

Note: The “b” rhyme in the middle of line 3 could slide to the left or right as needed by the poet.

Here’s an example I wrote for the first version:

“Cheat,” by Robert Lee Brewer

The rumors you’ve heard are true: I run
to forget my past. What I have won,
I’ve lost in lasting memories, blasting
through my brain like bullets from a gun.

As you can see, “run,” “won,” and “gun” rhyme with each other, as do “lasting” and “blasting.”

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Here’s a possible diagram for the second version:

1-xxxxxxxxa
2-xxxxxxxxa
3-xxxxbxxxxx
4-xxxbxxxxa

Note: In this version, both “b” rhymes can slide around in their respective lines, which affords the poet a little extra freedom.

Here’s my example modified for the second version:

“Cheat,” by Robert Lee Brewer

The rumors you’ve heard are true: I run
to forget my past. What I have won,
I’ve lost in lonley moments, my sorrow
my only friend while others are stunned.

In this version, “run,” “won,” and “stunned” rhyme (okay, “stunned” is a slant rhyme), while “lonely” and “only” rhyme inside lines 3 and 4.

Please play around with the form this week, because it’ll be the focus of the next WD Poetic Form Challenge starting next week.

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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. Voted 2010 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, his debut full-length poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems is due out from Press 53 on September 1, 2013. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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63 thoughts on “Gwawdodyn: Poetic Forms

  1. RJ Miller

    UNATTAINABLE

    An emptiness: consistent, burning.
    I reach out with avarice, yearning,
    lost in a mire of unyielding desire.
    Striving for it, but never earning.

    –RJ Miller

  2. taylor graham

    FOUR-YEAR-OLD’S ADVENTURE

    New York City-apartment boy, shy
    as our shepherd dogs and sheep pass by –
    he’s never seen a countryside so green,
    his eyes are wide as our western sky.

    The dog’s bigger than he is, but smiles,
    offering to guide through unfenced aisles
    of oak trees, rimrock with an August breeze.
    Adventure could last for years and miles.

    What will he remember from this trip?
    How frogs on zucchini-leaves do a flip,
    and large dogs cavort with small boys for sport.
    He fell on his seat, and found his grip.

  3. PressOn

    MISPLACED EMPHASIS

    The ascetic longed to be holy,
    so he subsisted on seeds, wholly
    flouting nutrition unto perdition,
    till his bowels were pocked and holey.

  4. Cin5456

    One Big, Happy Family

    I swept, mopped; I dusted and polished,
    washed clothes, made beds – chaos abolished.
    I even mixed dinner. All is fixed
    and ready. Kids home! – soon demolished.

  5. Jane Shlensky

    A shot in the dark… odd syllable counts make me crazy.

    Sanctuary

    Orphaned fawns adopt our lawn as home—
    wandering beneath shady oaks’ dome,
    nibbling hydrangeas, sibling spots arranged
    along their skinny backs, as they roam

    drinking bird baths, in day lily love,
    sheltering at woods’ edge, in fields of
    summer grass, weaned on fear. I watch them clear
    the pasture fence, poised in flight above.

    Come shank of afternoon, they return
    to forage through my flowers, to learn
    what nourishes, what feels safe, what conceals
    mother sanctuary, and they yearn.

  6. Cin5456

    Needs

    Sunset’s rainbow reflected in bright
    mirrored glass of a high-rise is quite
    a treat to see. Tall Buildings on three
    sides, East, South and West, I long for light.

  7. PressOn

    ANOTHER ATTEMPT

    All my sonnets lie within their bier
    and my villanelles come nowhere near;
    for that matter, French forms disappear.
    as do other forms, simple or queer.
    Instead, on this night, perforce I shall write
    a quiet gwawdodyn hir here.

  8. Cin5456

    The Next Stage

    I almost lost her before I knew
    she existed. Two months in bed grew
    tedious, but I endured, reassured
    she would thrive. She’ll survive college, too.

      1. Cin5456

        Thank you. I think kids going off to college reminds mothers how their children started out because it’s an end to their reliance on Mom. Kids learn how to take care of themselves at college.

  9. Never2L8

    (Don’t try to do the math ; )

    The Music Lives On

    Your daughter is forty today. Can
    you imagine that much time? Man.
    You died too young, your song unsung and yet,
    she is the melody you began.

  10. Cin5456

    Warning

    Mom asked for a moment of my time.
    She said she had been watching me climb
    the ladder of success under duress
    that lead to Dad’s passing in his prime.

  11. Never2L8

    Summer is spiraling to a nub
    of dry grasses and stumpy shrub
    marigold heads brown, spilling seeds on ground
    resigned to winter’s coldhearted snub.

  12. JRSimmang

    Ooh boy, this one’s a fun one. Would you, theoretically, continue adding quatrains, using the end rhyme of the third line as the end rhyme for lines 5, 6, and 8, like this:

    Sunday morning, we found a table
    topped with similar things, unable
    to keep its surface level; the heaps
    and heaps of memories unstable.

    Fondness regrets what fondness can’t keep,
    she said as we rummaged through the steep
    mountains of kitschy keepsakes, heads above
    the strewn clothes, heads below fondness deep.

    (and now the question mark)?

    1. Jane Shlensky

      A good poem and a good question, JR. I can’t seem to say it in four lines, my rhymes galloping away into new quatrains. I like that you’ve chain-linked the second quatrain to the first in rhyming heaps with keep, etc. Didn’t think of that.

      Robert, how does this form continue into longer format or should it always end in a single quatrain?

      1. Robert Lee Brewer Post author

        There are no specific rules for weaving together gwawdodyn stanzas. So you could definitely carry the “b” rhyme down into the second stanza–or start over with a “c” rhyme.

        A variant exists that is called a “gwawdodyn hir” that’s actually a sestet (six-line stanza) with all the same rules except it adds in a couplet with the “a” rhyme. So it would rhyme like this:

        a
        a
        a
        a
        b
        a

  13. james.ticknor

    The Sudden Death

    I saw her and then our eyes did meet
    She smiled at me then crossed the street
    But she was struck. Blood spatter, brain matter
    Her body still at the driver’s feet

  14. RJ Clarken

    Blue is the Color of a Notion

    “Every once in a blue moon, something new comes along that scrambles your preconceptions.” ~Unknown

    There was a time when I thought I knew
    all the things one can know. Then came blue
    moons, which scrambled my whole preconception,
    my world view, by that blue-tinged moon hue.

    ###

    (And the 2nd version.)

    1. RJ Clarken

      I just realized that this sounds awkward. Here’s the rewrite:

      Blue is the Color of a Notion

      “Every once in a blue moon, something new comes along that scrambles your preconceptions.” ~Unknown

      There was a time when I thought I knew
      all the things one can know. Then, came blue
      moons, which scrambled my old preconceptions.
      Gone, my world view, by that blue-ish hue.

      1. PressOn

        Your use of “blue-ish,” with the hyphen, is intriguing. It makes me think of a blue mood, with the blue hue coming from within, rather than a moon with a bluish cast, which I’ve seen on on hazy and usually smoky nights, even if it’s the only full moon of the month. Aside from that, I like the mood you create with your opening sentence; it fits the mood. Bottom line is, I love this piece.

    2. JRSimmang

      “…blue-tinged moon hue.” is just fun to say out loud. I am torn between both versions. I think the 2nd is a more sound poem; it’s more cogent and cohesive. However, the first version created more images for me. Perhaps it’s because it felt more scrambled, and that, I felt, was clever.

  15. RJ Clarken

    My Montgolfier Castle

    “This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air/Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself/Unto our gentle senses.” ~Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act 1, Scene 6

    Hot air rises into the balloon.
    My senses, in this castle, attune
    sweetly to clouds; then I glance down. The crowds
    gather to greet us. We land too soon.

    ###

    (An attempt at the first Gwawdodyn.)

    1. JRSimmang

      Excellent, and doing Shakespeare proud. Your poem seems at odds with itself, overjoyed to be up out of the world, bitter knowing that what goes up must come down. The opening quote would suggest that perhaps you’re usurping this aerial castle from another, which adds a new dimension…

  16. PressOn

    ATTEMPT

    I tried to write a gwawdodyn but
    retreated fast, feeling like a nut:
    my internal rhymes bonged, too much like chimes,
    and I was stuck in gwawdodyn’s rut.

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