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2. Englyn milwr or the soldier’s englyn

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Welsh Verse
Features of the Welsh Meters
Welsh Codified Divisions

Englyn milwr, én-glin míl-wer (the soldier's englyn), the 2nd codified Official Welsh Meter, an Englyn, was often written in proverb, englynion y clyweit (the stanza of hearing). The verse is efficiently short, some might say terse. Originally a susinct poem in praise of a leaders valor and sometimes satire of a leader's failings, a Welsh epigram. It was actually thrown out of the "official meters" at one time, but its popularity and continued use earned its right to be included in the code. During World War I, English soldiers were sent embroidered love poems from home in this verse form. Verse in this meter was recorded in the Red Book of Talgarth and are thought to date as far back as 100 BC. Note: even with the Welsh reverence for the code, some verse breaks free and adds or subtracts a syllable or two.

The elements of the englyn milwr are:

  1. a poem in 3 lines, a tristich, an epigram.
  2. syllabic, with 7 syllables per line.
  3. rhymed, mono-rhymed.
  4. thematic, praise of person or principal or satire of person or principal or soldier's message home.
  5. written with cynghanedd groes, repetition of the first consonant of each stressed word in the same sequence within each line ( take my letter / to my lady).  The example appears simple but in reality cynghanedd groes is very difficult to incorporate into such a small poem and make any sense.  (note:  American Soldier includes no cynghabedd groes until the 2nd stanza.  Rebirth hits the mark with the last 2 lines but falls short of the theme.)
     x x x x x x A                                   
    x x x x x x A
    x x x x x x A
    American Soldier by Judi Van Gorder                            

    Our young soldiers pirouette,
    forced to play Bagdad roulette,
    duty is their epithet.

    Flag shrouds our fallen soldier
    In battle none is bolder,
    in a grave none is colder.
    Rebirth by Judi Van Gorder

    In the rain of early spring
    white daffodils wake dancing,
    descant sounds in delight sing.

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