The Tour of Wales




An Englyn

Englyn a thelyn a thân - ac afal
ac yfwyr mewn diddan
a gwin melys a chusan
dyn fain lwys, dyna fyw'n lân

So what is an Englyn? A uniquely Welsh form of poetry, dating from as far back as the 6th Century AD. An Englyn is beautiful in its brevity, exquisite in its diction, making remarkable use of alliteration. The poems themselves are often pointed and thought provoking.

There are many forms of Englyn, but the most often used is known as Englyn unodl union. This is a form of thirty syllables arranged in lines of ten, six, seven and seven syllables. There is one end-rhyme, but in the first line one, two or three syllables layer the rhyming word, and are echoed in the first words of the second line. Cynghanedd (literally "harmony", where there is an internal alliteration - certain consonants are made to recur regularly within a line) is necessary. 

Cynghanedd is a complex system of interplay between vowels and consonants resulting in internal and end rhyme and complex alliteration.

So what does this poem mean? Here is a translation:

An englyn, and a harp, a fire - and an apple
and drinkers in merriment
and sweet wine and a kiss
of a slim pure girl, that's pure life


Find out More

The place to hear the modern Englyn is the National Eisteddfod of Wales. This is just one form of Welsh literature on offer at that event.



  © Stephen Kingston