na Sengdhíana Eile: A Quick Poetic Foundation II

The other two sengdhíana are variations of the first, but in order to proceed I should note a bit more on poetic structure.

The four parts of a bardic rann, which we usually print as individual lines, may be of varying length. The poetic treatise Auraicept na nÉces details names for each length possible for a ceathrú-rann. They are as follows in the order of the number of syllables for each (with brief explanations of their names if available):

  1. díalt (jointless)
  2. recomrac (fore-cry/meeting)
  3. íarcomrac (hind-cry/meeting)
  4. felis (guarded or pusillanimous — this one may require its own post )
  5. cloenre (faulty or wavering as if from cláen — this is a difficult one that needs more study)
  6. luibenchossach (stem-branched)
  7. claidemnas (cleft, divided probably into a 4:3 or 3:4 ratio)
  8. bricht (spell/chant-like, variegated, powerful — with a distantly possible connection to Brigit)

This means that more than eight syllables is really not possible, though it should be added that elision sometimes allows for seemingly more than the set number. Elision is when two vowels, one at the end of a word and one at the beginning of the next, are pronounced as one sound. It really only occurs between unstressed syllables, e.g. ‘Lion-O or his friends’ could be pronounced as ‘Lion-O ‘r his friends.’ A similar effect occurs when ‘over’ becomes o’er and ‘ever’ becomes ‘e’er.’ Anyway …

I posted last time about how the díalt airsheng has four ceathrú-rainn of seven syllables (claidemnus) with end-rhyme between the second and fourth ceathrú-rainn.

Díalt Midsheng

Anmchad Ossraige amra
Caíne Fadla flaithrige
Drec con bruthmar bruithe elca
Mac Con Cerca cathmíle

Anmchad of the Ossraige marvelous
The beauty of Ireland of noble kings
A dragon with a mischievous, embroiled ardour
Mac Con Cerca of a thousand battles

This version of the ‘slender swift’ meter also has seven syllables per line, but now end-rhyme occurs in each line (my next post on metrics will deal with Gaelic phonetics and rhyme), A to C and B to D. Also, alliteration occurs in each ceathrú-rann. My own drécht in díalt midsheng runs:

Drooping, bedraggled and drenched
was the weary, wine-soaked wretch,
Yet still with his wits he wrenched
and clenched his fancies to fletch.

Ok, so I am almost embarrassed with that one, but in the interest of getting this post up I’ll let it slide. Still, it’s pretty bad … ‘fletching clenched fancies’!? Sheesh! I’ll see if I can’t come up with something better than that and put it in the comments.

Díalt Iarsheng

Romgabsa eolchairi
Eólas do heicsib
Cendrecht do dhegdoínib
Domun do eicsib

Yearning has seized me
knowledge for poets
apart from compositions for good folks
a world for poets.

I really like this drécht. It’s just so … nice!

Anyway, díalt iarsheng does something completely different from the preceding meters: lines A & C have six syllables while B & D have five. In this example, also, there is clear end-rhyme between the last three lines, but then only one word differs between lines B & D. What are we to think? What is worse, if ‘dhegdoínib‘ didn’t have that ‘b’ on the end it would rhyme with ‘eolchairi,’ so is there supposed to be end-rhyme throughout?

Based on the midsheng variant, I would say that the goal is to have end-rhyme throughout, but it’s probably not a total necessity. Near-rhymes between ‘patchy’ and ‘scratching’ would probably be somewhat acceptable … maybe … if no one is watching. Were I to attempt something in this meter, it might go something like this:

High Hecaté, hear me,
goddess of the gates
open the weirding way
mistress of the gates.

It still seems like a cop-out to just vary the last line, but again it illustrates the meter.


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