By Elizabeth Spencer Spragins Poetry has been an integral component of Welsh culture for centuries. Indeed, the Welsh word “bardd” (poet) has been traced back to 100 B.C. Depending on their skills, Welsh poets held one of three official ranks, and earning the designation of “chief poet” was a high honor. Every noble house in Wales boasted its own resident bard until the English legal system was imposed on the country in the 16th century. Although English law abolished the position of “chief poet,” the passion for poetry persisted. Welsh poets demonstrated their skills through competitions with strict structural requirements (forerunners of the modern Welsh Eisteddfod). In the 14th century these poetic forms were codified into 24 official meters with three classes: the englynion, the cywydd meters, and the awdl (ode) meters (which include the rhupunt). The rhupunt (pronounced hree'-pint), like other members of the awdl class, is stanzaic. Each stanza may have three, four, or five lines, and each line has four syllables. Within each stanza, all lines, with the exception of the last, share a single end rhyme. All of the last lines share a secondary end rhyme. Thus, a rhupunt with four-line stanzas would have the following rhyme scheme: xxxa xxxa xxxa xxxb xxxc xxxc xxxc xxxb xxxd xxxd xxxd xxxb And so on. In a variation known as the long rhupunt, each stanza is written as a single line, and the lines are paired in couplets. This format allows greater flexibility with the end rhyme, as illustrated below: xxxaxxxaxxxaxxxb xxxcxxxcxxxcxxxb xxxdxxxdxxxdxxxe xxxfxxxfxxxfxxxe When written in the Welsh language, the awdl meters usually adhere to cynhanedd (rules of harmony governing consonance or alliteration). Although a rhupunt written in English does not necessarily follow this tradition, using such techniques to echo sounds within the lines can enhance the musicality of the poem. My poem “Sedona” illustrates the structure of a rhupunt with four-line stanzas. Sedona A Rhupunt By Elizabeth Spencer Spragins Deep shadows fade Red rock cascade To purpled jade— Sun sparks ignite. Stone sentries stare Sightless through air At treadless stair Spanning the height. No mortals dare Enter the lair Or linger where Spirit meets sprite. This shrine of stone And bleached white bone Hides secrets shown In the moonlight. Post your rhupunt in the comments section below. Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a linguist, writer, poet, and editor who taught in North Carolina community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. Recent work has appeared in the Quarterday Review, Skylark, Atlas Poetica, Halcyon Days, and Peacock Journal. She lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.