Poetry Challenge—Introducing the Englyn: Form 12—the Robertson Davies Variant

An englyn is a form of Welsh or Cornish verse, with a reputation of being hard to master. It has several different variants, all of which are governed by strict rules. This week, we’ll look at a variant insisted on by novelist Robertson Davies.
Davies insisted that the englyn must have four lines. The first line should have 10 syllables, the second should have 6, and the last two lines should have 7 syllables each. His form also states that there must be a break after the seventh, eighth OR ninth syllable, and that this is where the rhyme is introduced. The second line rhymes with the break, and the last syllable of the first line must be linked by either rhyme or assonance with the 3rd or 4th syllable of the second line. The third and fourth lines must rhyme on a weak syllable and must rhyme with the rhyme in the first line—very similar to the first form of englyn.

The Troll Queen

She stands beneath the ancient-most bridges
where there lingers bones lost
She defies all Heaven’s hosts
Finds the wand’rers, steals their souls

This ancient beast of darkness rules by fear
She quickly steers distress
and death beneath the bridge, lest
hunters come at our behest

Should you see her, you should your soul beware
For only there in bowls
of stone, all filled with sorrow
gore and bone, Hell’s tomorrow

The troll queen’s fee for her long, long life
stricken with spite, all wrong
made right amidst summer’s song
which weakens those once thought strong

The female troll, no beauty queen, deceives
Gi’en by Hell’s thieves in dreams
an allure for mortal men
that the good by Hell are gained

Why don’t you give it a try? Try writing at least one of these tricky Robertson Davies’ englyns for each day of the week.
You can find out more about how to write englyns from the following sites:


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