Poetry Form: Cywydd Llosgyrnog

 Three Strikes

The lake hidden and blue in high
mountains, wide, shining does it lie,
where men do die, lost, unseen,
where the wives of Anwen do dwell,
where they find themselves lost as well
and here they fall in the green.

She reaches out with a cold hand
to pull them up until they stand,
face to face and her smile fair,
they are taken, love at first sight
not that they believe, it feels right
in the sunlight, they just stare.

She is the daughter of the king
the underworld is his ruling
she is striking, pale, dark hair
he emerges from the deep lake
approaches them, smiles, still they shake
but no mistake, he is there.

He gives them her hand in marriage
but with it comes a grave message
“If you damage or hit her
with any iron just three times she
will return to the lake to me,
eternity in water.”

The first strike comes a few months in
a horse bit thrown and from within
their bond does thin from poor aim.
The bruise blooms black a reminder
of a catch she missed and neither
she nor they are to take blame.

The second blow is a saucepan
sadly this is how it began,
they have no plan for what if,
they are scared stiff by a mere tap
on her arm then throw every scrap,
each iron trap in a tiff.

It’s not enough and when it comes
a cog falls from mechanisms
rusty spasms of old gears
as they work on an old machine
and she tries hard to be sanguine,
they have seen the silent tears.

She is gone the next day by dawn
they are left bereft, alone, torn
at the lake one morn, they hope for
her but they instead see the King
“You may see her once every spring,
no returning here before.”

So they meet yearly on the shore
for a few minutes nothing more,
so says the law of the land.
it’s not the same, these broken bits
of love they share, they can see it’s
more than their bond can withstand.


Seemed appropriate to turn a Welsh myth into a poem for this week’s form. In Welsh legend, the Wives of Anwen and King Gwyn Ap Nudd rule the ‘lower world’. I’m actually writing a retelling of this myth.

 Cywydd Llosgyrnog  

Number of lines:
Down to the individual poet

A 12th-century Welsh form written in six-line stanzas. Each stanza is comprised of two lines of eight syllables and a third line of seven syllables. Lines 1 and 2 rhyme and cross-rhyme with syllable 3 or 4 of line 3. This pattern is then followed for the next three lines. Lines 3 and 6 also rhyme.

This gives a stanza pattern of:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x a x x x b
x x x x x x x c
x x x x x x x c
x x c x x x b 

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