Here’s what the toddaid poem type is:
The toddaid is one of the 24 codified Welsh meters.
This particular poem form consists of uneven couplets with lines of ten and nine syllables.
It features unusual rhyme schemes that utilize a technique called gair cyrch, ultimately resulting in staggered rhymes that feel exotic to English readers and writers.
If you want to learn all about toddaid poems, then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s jump right into it!
What Is the Toddaid?
The toddaid is the 19th codified Welsh meter.
It’s a type of awdl (long Welsh poems with strict meter), although that definition of awdl is relatively modern in practice.
The codified Welsh meters are a bit unique in that they may represent just one segment of a poem or the meter that will be continuously followed throughout the poem, depending on execution.
Toddaids have an interesting uneven design, in that they alternate ten-syllable and nine-syllable lines.
Like all Welsh forms, some understanding of cynghanedd (similar to the meaning of the Celtic term cywddydd) is expected.
Specifically, the properties prized by Welsh poets include alliteration, stress, rhyme, and other sound-based elements of poetry.
Take note that Welsh poetry tends to allow rhymes and instances of alliteration and consonance to be interconnected within various syllables of the stanza, though usually with specific expectations per the form.
English poetry puts much more emphasis on end rhymes and self-contained lines.
What Are the Basic Properties of the Toddaid?
How Is the Toddaid Structured?
Toddaid is structurally a couplet form in which the first line is 10 syllables and the second line is 9 syllables.
These two lines are rhymed, but not in the way that you might expect.
This is because toddaids routinely use a technique called gair cyrch, in which the “main rhyme” of a line appears before the end of the line, with the last little bit of the line representing a sort of attachment after the line, but usually being woven back into the rhyme scheme with a secondary line somewhere in the next line.
So a few lines of toddaid may look like this:
In the above example ‘A’ represents the main rhyme while the ‘b’ is the rhyme of the gair cyrch, whose placement in the second line may vary or may not even be utilized, depending on the poet.
Keep in mind that this couplet represents one set of lines.
Poems written in toddaid are often written in quatrains and can potentially go on for any length.
If keeping cross-rhyme going for that long sounds like a complicated and arbitrary task…yes.
Old Welsh meters feature some of the most demanding and unusual rhyme schemes out there.
The region has an extensive history with poetry that predates written language.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that there are some techniques from older eras in that region that never really caught on elsewhere.
A shorter variant of the toddaid is sometimes written, called the toddaid byr.
The only functional difference is that it has a 6-syllable line instead of a 9-syllable line.
It’s otherwise more or less the same poem form.
Realistically the Welsh meters are poem forms that can be simulated in English, but not to the extent that their own native tongue allows.
Hopefully, it won’t surprise you to hear that not all forms were designed with our language in mind, after all.
What Is an Example of a Toddaid?
Fishing at a lonely lake I smile, so glad
of the times I’ve had, the hobbies I make.
It makes a hard heart sing out proud, so full
and free of those dull old great, gray clouds.
The above example, while very brief, is long enough to at least get a sense of the general idea.
Take note of the placement of the caesuras on the longer lines.
Since the gair cyrch is intended to be just an accompaniment to the main line, it’s appropriate for it to hang off as a dependent clause when possible.
While this poem does stick to the English notion of containing alliteration within a line instead of spreading it across multiple lines, there is still a clear emphasis on sound in the instances of assonance and consonance.
This may seem insignificant, but Welsh poetry has a very real relationship with sound so it would be disingenuous not to try to attempt some sort of musical quality in these forms.
What Are Tips for Writing a Toddaid?
English imitations of toddaids frankly aren’t as hard as they sound, simply because of just how many of the Welsh techniques are discarded or lost in translation.
The form, in English, just ends up being an uneven couplet with an unusual rhyme scheme.
Still, that’s not to say it’s not without any challenges at all.
Mixing in rhymes in the middle of lines while still being mindful of the end sounds offers a unique twist to how we normally write poetry, so it can be an interesting endeavor if just for that alone.
It’s also good practice for writing lines with an odd number of syllables that don’t necessarily match each other.
English poetry has an obsession with even numbers, particularly in our meters, along with isosyllabic lines.
Exploring Welsh poetry can be a good way to break those habits and come up with new and unusual ways to write.
One bit of advice I can give with certainty is that you shouldn’t even attempt Welsh forms, even as imitations, until you’re extremely comfortable working with rhyme, assonance, consonance, and syllable counts.
The codified Welsh meters are among the most complex and unorthodox poem forms I’ve ever worked with, in terms of line structure at least, so you really do need to achieve at least an intermediate level before attempting them.
As for veterans of poetry, go for it.
Be aware that you may have to do some in-depth research to get as close to the true nature of these forms as possible, and even then you’ll just be scratching the surface.
The poets who first came up with these meters are long gone, but their ability to catch the ear of the listener hasn’t waned a bit.
I cannot, in just a few words, express how happy I am to be nearly done studying Welsh poetry.
In the quest to experiment with as many forms from around the world as possible, these did need to be acknowledged.
But if there is any group of poems I will almost certainly not be revisiting, it’s these.
Good luck and Godspeed to you brave souls who try them out.
What Are the Most Important Types of Poems?
What if you went down the poetry types rabbit hole all the way?
From the mundane Sonnet to the rare mistress bradstreet stanza to Grammarly’s worst nightmare cro cumaisc etir casbairdni ocus lethrannaighecht.
So if you want to discover poem types, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started with that poem types collection!