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Poetry Guide: Cynghanedd

Cynghanedd (literally "harmony"), in Welsh language poetry, is the basic concept of sound-arrangement within one line, using stress, alliteration and rhyme. The various forms of cynghanedd show up the definitions of all formal Welsh verse forms, such as the awdl. Cynghanedd has been used from very early times and continues in common use today.

Forms of cynghanedd

The examples below are from the poem Cywydd y Cedor, by the fourteenth-century bard Gwerful Mechain. The caesuras are marked with slashes ("/") and rhyming parts are marked in bold. Note that Dd, Ll and Ch are counted as single consonants in the Welsh alphabet.

Cynghanedd groes ("cross-harmony")

All consonants which appear in the line before the caesura must be repeated after it, in the same order. For example:

clawdd i ddal / cal ddwy ddwylaw
CL  Dd   Dd L / C L Dd   Dd  L

Cynghanedd draws (also "cross-harmony")

Like cynghanedd groes, except only some of the consonants are repeated. For example:

dabl y gerdd / a'i dwbl o goch
D BL   G RDd       D BL   G Ch

Cynghanedd sain ("sound-harmony")

The line has two caesuras, and thus has three parts. The first and second parts rhyme; the consonants of the second part are repeated in the third part. For example:

pant yw hwy / na llwy / na llaw
            / N  Ll   / N  Ll

Cynghanedd lusg ("drag-harmony")

The first accented syllable in the line rhymes with the second-to-last syllable of the line. For example:

duw er ei radd / a'i addef,,


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