Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Singing in the Quire

For Athrawes Tarian verch Gadarn
By THLaird Colyne Stewart, February AS 49 (2015)

In master’s hands the boards turn,
By gimlet and plane they churn;
As at her knee pupils learn,
And for new books their hearts yearn.

Yearn to sew the quires straight,
Bind the folia of eight,
Band to board and mate to mate,
Save it from unworthy Fate.

Fate can be athwarted sore
With skin of the goat or boar,
Corner-pieces numbered four,
And catch-plate, bosses and score.

Score the end-band, sing it loud,
Hold end product to the crowd;
Nimble fingers never cowed,
Makes her kingdom ever proud.

I tried to write this poem using the Welsh cywydd metrical form, but I didn’t get it quite right. In cywydd each first line of the couplet should end on a stressed syllable, while the second line ends on an unstressed syllable. All of my lines ended up stressed. It is a very foreign concept to me to end on an unstressed syllable. I also found working with seven syllable lines to be odd (I usually write even numbered lines).

I did however manage to use two Welsh poetic devices (cerdd dagod). The first was using a single end-rhyme in each section of the poem (in this case quatrains). In Welsh this is known as awdl simpliciter (though poems written in awdl simpliciter were usually much longer in length. A *lot* longer.) The second was cyrch-gymeriad, which is using the last word of a stanza as the first word of the following stanza.

Final verdict: it’s ok. I need more practice in trying to adapt Welsh poetics into English. Or learn Welsh. You know, whichever.

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