Whittled Words – Byr A Thoddaid Poem

Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:




If you couldn’t tell from the name, the byr a thoddaid is a Welsh form (like the gwawdodyn). And true to most Welsh forms, it is a good challenge. Here, are the rules:

  • The byr a thoddaid is a quatrain (4-line stanza) or series of quatrains
  • The quatrain itself is divided into two combined couplets (2-line stanza)
  • One couplet contains 8 syllables for each line with an aa end rhyme
  • The other couplet contains 10 syllables in the first line and 6 syllables in the second
  • The 10-syllable line of this other couplet has an end rhyme near the end of the line (but not at the end)
  • The 6-syllable line of this other couplet has a link (either rhyme, alliteration, etc.) to the end word of the 10-syllable line and then an end rhyme
  • The couplets can appear in alternating orders

I realize the explanation might sound complicated, but it’s not too bad.

Here are the two main options:

X’s represent non-rhyming syllables; capital letters represent rhyming syllables; lower-case letters (that aren’t x’s) represent the linked words/sounds/etc.

Option 1:




Note: The linked sound in the second line of the 10-6 couplet can be the first sound, first syllable, second sound, second syllable, etc.–just as long as it’s near the beginning of that second line.


Examples of Byr a Thoddaid Poems:



by Robert Lee Brewer

(Example of both variations)


As the storm warned us with thunderous sounds
sending us asunder
to our individual homes
before the rain could chill our bones,

we imagined we ran for life
itself–as if the lightning might
find our footsteps and strike us dead as nails
as snails hid fast their heads.



By Taylor Graham


Her sisters seven all are dead,
vanished night by day. Now we dread
to lose our last chick. To what foe? What killed
them? Build us tall and low,

she lives on bugs and shadows dark as day
and plays tricks on my arm.
I hammer at the world. She leaps
on my hammer. She sings in cheeps.



By Deandre Long


The less sanity you have, the more you
think you’re sane – and the world is full of fools.
So how do you know if you truly know
that no one knows you fully?



By Brad Osborne

(Example of both variations)


The bugle call fills battlefield

Men bang their swords on iron shields

Warring heart of man then in hate is bled

A dead and dying fate

And ghostly haunts the specter, hooded black

To snack upon the good

The hearty souls that die that day

Beg send them their eternal way

Destiny and thy fates are sealed

Death to any who will not yield

The fallen held in fondest memory

Take me in place of them

For the devil came and left me behind

Defined in tragedy

A sorrow played out by old age

And death becomes as turning page


I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Byr a Thoddaid poem. Thanks for reading!

8 Responses to “Whittled Words – Byr A Thoddaid Poem”
  1. Jim Borden says:

    another unusual pattern that you handled with ease. and it’s a shame that many times the survivors are forgotten…

  2. beth says:

    What a huge challenge, but you mastered it –

  3. Must say I am learning a lot from this great series that I am absolutely hooked to. A rather complicated form but the poems are quite lovely indeed, yours in particular was very motivating and thought-provoking and of course a most beautiful example of this Welsh poetry style. Thank you so much my friend for such a learning experience! All the best.

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