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Englyn Definition

Englyn, known as Englynion in its plural form, is a type of verse that originated in the Celtic poetry around 9th century and received a particular popularity amongst the Welsh bards, so much so that it became one of their most used and recognisable composing pattern. Englynion created in Welsh tongue typically followed the rhythmic model known as milwr. It is generally described as three-line stanzas, each containing seven syllables, with identically sounding rhyme at the end of the line.

One of the reasons is the Englynion achieved such a revered status in the Welsh poetry is to be found in the vocal characteristics of the Welsh language. Its natural melody and harmonious, sing-song cadence fitted perfectly with the Englyn form. English, on the other hand, proved vocally less suited to the Englyn, as its natural rhythm did not lend itself easily to the Englynion structure – hence the verses translated and/or adapted in English from Welsh language lost considerable part of their charm.

Because of its brevity and strict rules of syllable count Englyn is routinely likened to the Haiku. However Englynion were mostly used to either bestow praise or deliver mockery to well-known personalities of the day. In that, the bards’ wit in combination with the concise verse proved especially effective and sharp poetic tool. 


Englyn (plural englynion) is a traditional Welsh and Cornish short poem form. It uses quantitative metres, involving the counting of syllables, and rigid patterns of rhyme and half rhyme. Each line contains a repeating pattern of consonants and accent known as cynghanedd. There are eight types of englynion.

Englyn Poem Example

Here is an English language englyn by novelist Robertson Davies.

The Old Journalist

He types his laboured column--weary drudge!
Senile, fudge and solemn;
Spare, editor, to condemn
These dry leaves of his autumn.


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