Jun 4, 2010

Cro Cumaisc Etir Casbairnde Ocus Lethrannaigecht

Yes, that's right. I never got this post up yesterday so it's poetry today, serial tomorrow. Sorry!

I like Bob Newman’s definition of this form the best: This is an Irish verse form. The name means "Sorry, the translator can't take your call at the moment".

Irish poetry began with an oral tradition which depended upon rhyme to assist the memory. The ancient Irish poets, filidh (from the verb, to see) were highly respected and thought to have magical powers similar to the Welsh poets.

The Irish patterns depend heavily on alliteration, consonance and assonance, sharing the word cywdydd (harmony of sound) with the Welsh. A defining feature of ancient Irish poetry is, dunadh, beginning and ending the poem with the same syllable, word or line. This brings the poem full circle.

Around the 5th century, Christianity came to Ireland. With its introduction the filidh gave up their "magical" role and became "scholars". The poetry that emerged from the 6th to 12th century is intricately formal, dán díreach ("straight or strict verse"). During this time Ireland became known as an "island of saints and scholars".

The early Church in Ireland was unusually well organized. The Latin influenced system enabled the monks to record and preserve much of the ancient poetry. The Cro Cumaisc Etir Casbairnde Ocus Lethrannaigecht developed from this history and carrying the tradition of the ancient bards into the present.

The form calls for any number of 4-line stanzas rhyming abab. There’s also a strict syllable count, and here’s where my sources disagree. While some claim the syllable count is 7-5-7-5, others claim the count is 5-7-5-7. Being Irish, the lengths of the rhyming words are also specified, in this case as 3, 1, 3, 1. The 3 does not indicate triple rhymes; the requirement is simply that the rhyming words are three syllables long.

The verse form looks like this:

x x x x(x x a)
x x x x b
x x x x (x x a)
x x x x b


x x (x x a)
x x x x x x b
x x (x x a)
x x x x x x b

Cast Out

At the dawn of creation
when the world was new,
grew the tree of temptation –
fruit enough for two.

The serpent, so seductive
with his apple sweet –
this one act so destructive
such a deadly treat.

Should they have asked permission
Before they had a taste?
Theirs, a sin of omission
And a fall from grace.

Tears of grief and frustration,
yet they left the glade.
Faint the hope of salvation
in a promise made.

Life can be so oppressive
in this world of sins,
making man so agressive -
a game no one wins.


Jamie D. said...

Sorry to see I'm not the only one behind this week. Hope things settle down for you soon!

Interesting form...it's almost childish, with that sing-song rhythm. Lovely example, as always. :-)

C R Ward said...

Thanks Jamie!

And in all my research I still couldn't find a translation for the name of it! :-)