Clogyrnach pictureGirl Before a Mirror – Pablo Picasso, March 1932, MoMA – The Collection

This week we will be penning the Welsh form known as Clogyrnach (pronounced clog-ir-nach.)

This form is really a fun challenge, especially for those of you who like limericks, 5/7/5 Haiku or short form poetic forms.  It can lend itself easily to light verse (obviously), but the Clogyrnach can also be inspired and lovely with more serious themes as well.  And, just so you know, you can make it longer, by simply writing more stanzas.  Finally, if you like to make use of enjambment, this is a form where it really can work quite well.

Per Shakespeare’s Monkeys (

The clogyrnach is a Welsh six-line stanza form — it can either be a single stanza poem or you can join them together to make something much longer.

There are only two rhymes per stanza (though if you’re making a longer poem, you can change rhymes as long as it’s the same pattern).  The lines have a syllable count of 8-8-5-5-3-3, and the rhyme scheme is a-a-b-b-b-a — technically, it looks like this:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x b
x x b
x x a

If you want to, you can actually join the last two lines together to make one six-syllable line, but it’s important to keep the rhymes in the same place, so if you do that your last line will have the b rhyme in the middle:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x b
x x b x x a

And that’s it.

Here are a couple of examples by yours truly:

A Matter of Opinion

“It is no use to blame the looking glass if your face is awry.” ~Nikolai Gogol

 O Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
I do not like your view at all.
You say there’s no trace
of a pretty face?!
Way off base…
I’m fair, y’all.


Break for Brakes

 “When you step on the brakes your life is in your foot’s hands.” ~George Carlin

 When stomping on your brakes, it’s true,
your car does what you tell it to.
Inertia laws mean
your driving machine
halts the scene
on shoe cue.


Now, (speaking of breaks and brakes) I know there are a few of you out there who like to break the rules.  Right?  Of course, right.  So, for the non-purists among us, here’s an example of rule breaking where the syllabics actually remain the same, but the rhyme scheme is different (in this case, aabbcc.)  And while not a true Clogyrnach because of the change-up, the following poem is a reasonably close facsimile, which some may find a scosh easier to write.  Either way, the idea here is to use your creativity and have a swell time!

Holding My Breath

 “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think I’ve held my breath too long
This line denotes my pen’s torch song.
When under water
is it for naught, or
‘til my death
are words breath?


And on that note… Ready, set…start poeming! ~RJ



Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Clogyrnach.  Who?
Knock knock Clogyrnach, where are you?
Knock knock, weirdly stalked
Keep your front door locked.
Verb?  Who knew?

© copyright 2010, Marie Elena Good

… and while you’re poeming, you might want to check out Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides prompt for today:  Write an illusion poem.