Rannaigheact Mhor: Poetic Form

I used to think the Welsh forms were the most complicated, but today’s Irish form sure fits in a lot of rules in only 28 syllables. Let’s look at the rannaigheact mhor!

Rannaigheact Mhor Poems

There are actually several different rannaigheacts, which are Irish quatrains. I’m sure we’ll cover other versions in the future, but today’s rannaigheact mhor operates on a complex set of rules.

Here are the guidelines for the rannaigheact mhor:

  • Quatrain with an abab rhyme scheme, including consonant end sounds
  • Heptasyllabic lines, or 7 syllables per line
  • At least 2 cross-rhymes in each couplet of each quatrain
  • Final word of line 3 rhymes with interior of line 4
  • At least 2 words alliterate in each line
  • Final word of line 4 alliterates with preceding stressed word
  • Final sound of poem echoes first sound of poem (common for Irish forms)

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Here’s my attempt at a Rannaigheact Mhor Poem:

Fickle Fall, by Robert Lee Brewer

Falling for blue eyes is fake
if two make terrified too
you and talismans you take
for sake of whistle or woo.

Physical feelings shall fade
like shade on a weathered wall
making all things never made
or forbade for fickle fall.

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It should be easy to find the alliteration, but I’ll map out the rhymes and cross-rhymes here:

xxxbxxa
xxaxxxb
bxxxxba
xaxxxxb

xxxxxdc
xcxxxxd
xxdxxxc
xxcxxxd

And as you can see, the poem begins and ends on “fall.” Crazy form, right?

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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2 thoughts on “Rannaigheact Mhor: Poetic Form

  1. Tracy Davidson

    The Witch

    Watching the witch give a slap
    to the trap laid for a toad,
    she showed no care for the scrap
    in her lap as its flesh flowed.

    Pity the creatures she’s caught,
    ignore that wart, bruise or blotch,
    the splotch of spells she was taught,
    this magic sport I won’t watch.

  2. RJ Clarken

    Renewed

    Bright green leaf from my old tree,
    you might be my darling one.
    Sunlight makes an end-run spree
    to flee a branch, all in fun.

    I recall my past right then.
    But when I would reunite
    leaves and light and youth again
    there’s a yen, that’s briefly bright.

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