Awen (Poetic Inspiration) - Documentation: Original Welsh-Style Poem (6th century)

Entrant: THL Ajir Tsaagan*

*Documentation prepared with assistance from Sayyida Laila al-Sanna' al-Andalusiyya. 

Ffesty Pen Eisteddfod, Storytelling & Poetry, 3 November, 2018

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Poetic Form

"Awen" is an original poem composed in English, in a medieval Welsh style. The poetic form is an awdl composed of a series of englynion. It is stylistically based on "The Battle of the Trees" from The Book of Taliesin.

 

Awdl (pl. awdlau)

From Mapping Medieval Chester Project:

"The awdl is a family of metres based on the same basic principles. Each awdl is essentially a non-stanzaic poem based on groups of lines with a single end-rhyme. The awdl may be set out on the page as a number of sections, with the division corresponding to a change of end-rhyme, but these sections are not strictly stanzas and are often not punctuated as such in the manuscripts. Each line may be of different lengths, with eight to ten syllables being average, though many are longer or shorter."

From Medieval Welsh Poetry:

"There are three principal early verse forms. The earliest is the awdl/ odl (plural awdlei/ odlei), defined by the number of syllables in the line. It may or may not have rhyme and/ or alliteration."


Englyn (pl. englynion)

From Mapping Medieval Chester Project:

"The englyn is a stanzaic form with four main sub-types. Essentially the englyn is a three- or four-line verse with a single end-rhyme. An englyn might occur on its own, as a short, witty stanza (rather like a limerick), or a number of englynion might be combined into a longer poem, often as part of an awdl. Three-line englynion have either three lines of seven syllables each, or three lines of 10, 6 and 7 syllables, with the main rhyme occurring two or three syllables before the end of the longer first line."

From Medieval Welsh Poetry:

"The englyn (plural englynion) is still the most popular Welsh metre. It was the preferred form in the early Middle Ages, and had two main types: englynmilwr (3 lines of equal length, usually 7 syllables; normally with end-rhyme); and englynpenfyr (3 lines of 9-11, 5-6, and 7 syllables; usually the end of the second and third lines rhyme with 3 syllables back from the end of the first line)."

 

Rhyme in Welsh Poetry

From Medieval Welsh Poetry:

"Rhyme could be ordinary, or half-rhyme, proest. In this latter form of rhyme, the final consonant is identical and preceding vowels are of the same class."

 

Analysis of "Awen"

This poem is 12 lines long. It is composed of 4 englynion milwr, each comprising 3 lines of 7 syllables each. Each englyn changes to a new end-rhymes. It's subject matter is poetic inspiration - a frequent topic in Welsh poetry, as demonstrated by the work of Taliesin and other medieval Welsh poets.


Bibliography

Echard, Sian. Medieval Welsh Poetry. (www.faculty.arts.ubc.ca, accessed 25 October, 2018).

Lucian, De Laude Cestrie, ed. Mark Faulkner. "Metres of Medieval Welsh Poetry." Mapping Medieval Chester Project. (www.medievalchester.ac.uk, accessed 25 October, 2018).

Taliesin. The Book of Taliesin. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, The National Library of Wales. (https://www.library.wales/discover/digital-gallery/manuscripts/the-middle-ages/book-of-taliesin/, accessed 26 October, 2018).