Week Eight: The Cywydd llosgyrnog

The Cywhatnow?

The Cywydd llosgyrnog is the second Welsh form of this challenge and includes many of the features you come to expect from a Welsh form including: strict syllable count, both end rhymes and internal rhymes, and an extremely difficult-to-pronounce (and spell) name!

Using this handy online Guide to Welsh Pronunciation, the best I can suss out as far as the pronunciation of this form would sound something like “kuh-with th-laws-gurr-nog,” but please understand this is only an educated guess.

Requirements of the Form

The Cywydd llosgyrnog form prescribes no restrictions in content or meter, but there are various other requirements that must be adhered to rather strictly.

Form

– Consists of any number of single six-line stanzas (sestets)

Syllable Count

– Lines 1, 2, 4 and 5 contain eight syllables 
– Lines 3 and 6 have seven syllables 

Rhyme

-End rhymes (lines 1-6): aabccb
-Internal rhymes (lines 3 and 6*): ac
*generally falling on syllable 3 or 4

Requirement Breakdown*

1-xxxxxxxa
2-xxxxxxxa
3-xxxaxxb
4-xxxxxxxc
5-xxxxxxxc
6-xxxcxxb

*adapted, with thanks, from Writer’s Digest

An Original Cywydd llosgyrnog

When I stop to watch

When I stop to watch the deep blue
Evening descend and the last few
Fading hues of daylight’s dream
Diffuse into the sloping plains
A peace upon my mind again
Falls like rain into a stream

Online Resources

A Guide to Welsh Pronunciation – go4awalk.com
Cywydd llosgyrnog – Writer’s Digest
Cywydd – Wikipedia
Cywydd llosgyrnog – Poet’s Collective
Cywydd llosgyrnog – Poetry Magnum Opus

Week Seven: The Minute Poem

The Minute Poem is a modern form of unknown origin. Despite it’s name–and fortunately for us–the Minute Poem is not a poem that you must write in 60 seconds. Rather, it’s a poem consisting of exactly sixty syllables. Further requirements in length, meter, and rhyme help this form stand out and make for a fun and fairly simple challenge.

Lucky for us, the Minute Poem counts syllables, not seconds.

Requirements of the Form

Form

– Consists of three quatrains (four-line stanzas) for a total of twelve lines

Meter

– Strict iambic (unstressed-stressed)

Syllable Count

– Eight syllables in the first line of each stanza
– Four syllables in the proceeding lines of each stanza

Rhyme Scheme

aabb/ccdd/eeff

Requirements Breakdown

1-xxxxxxxa
2-xxxa
3-xxxb
4-xxxb

5-xxxxxxxc
6-xxxc
7-xxxd
8-xxxd

9-xxxxxxxe
10-xxxe
11-xxxf
12-xxxf

An Original Minute Poem

I often sleep through summer’s storm

I often sleep through summer’s storm
when nights are warm
and thick with dreams
or so it seems

the quilt pulled high covers my eyes
as lightning flies
like moon in shroud
of creeping cloud

I wake to find the darkened road
the flowers bowed
the sagging sky
the river high

Online Resources

Minute Poetry – Shadow Poetry
Minute Poem – Poetry Dances
Minute Poem – Writer’s Digest

Week Five: The Miltonic Sonnet

John Milton (1608-1674)

The Miltonic Sonnet is named after the 17th century English poet, political writer, and civil servant, John Milton. With the publishing of his epic poem Paradise Lost, widely regarded as one of the greatest works written in the English language, Milton solidified his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time. Milton’s work would live on to influence Romantic poets such as William Blake and William Wordsworth.

Photo caption: A wood engraving from the 19th century depicts a blind John Milton dictating his influential epic poem “Paradise Lost” (Fortuné Louis Méaulle / Wellcome Library) 

Milton’s Sonnet

Milton adapted the Petrachan sonnet (named for Italian poet-scholar Petrach) and made the popular form his own. He took the sonnet out of the category of “love poems” and brought it into the world of politics, religion, and social issues. He also introduced enjambments (the technical term used for when a poet carries a line through to the next line), while at the same time removing the space between what was before the first and second stanzas, thus tightening up the form. By removing the volta (also known as a pivot, or turn) after the octave (first eight lines), and varying the rhyme scheme of the sestet (proceeding six lines), he further opened up the form.

A reading of one of Milton’s most famous poems should help demonstrate these contributions to the evolution of the sonnet:

“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”

When I consider how my light is spent,
    Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
    And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
    My true account, lest He returning chide;
    “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
    Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
    Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
    And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Requirements of the Form

Form

– Fourteen lines
– No spaces between ‘stanzas’
– Lines contain enjambment (see above for brief definition)

Content

– Occasional, political, and religious subjects
– Unlike other sonnets, does not have a distinct volta (also known as a pivot) after the eighth line

Meter

– Iambic pentameter (ten syllables per line, unstressed-stressed pattern).

Rhyme

– First eight lines (octave): abbaabba
– Preceding six lines (sestet): often cdecde, but variable

An Original Miltonic Sonnet

The viral imagine haunted every screen–
A photograph too horrid to ignore:
A pair of bloated bodies on the shore.
In Congress followed yet another scene
Of bickering and washing white-hands clean.
No older than The Virgin when she bore
The Savior that they claim to so adore,
The budding mother wonders what they mean.
As children hungry, dirty, sick and scared
Are torn away and locked in concrete halls
Lay weak with worry, overwhelmed with fear,
The value of their lives is weighed and tared;
As Washington debates the costs of walls,
Who dares to speak of Christ’s compassion here?

Notes on My Original Sonnet

I challenged myself to write a sonnet that was true to the Miltonic themes of politics, religion, and current events, and found in the issue of immigration a combination of all three. The line “children hungry, dirty, sick and scared” was taken from this BBC News article and served as the fulcrum of this poem.

Online Resources


Sonnet Examples – Poetry Through the Ages
Miltonic Sonnet – Poet’s Collective
Miltonic Sonnet – Poetry Magnum Opus
John Milton – Wikipedia