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Bibliographical Information
Singing in Chains - Listening to Welsh Verse
Mererid Hopwood
ISBN: 9781843234029 (1843234025)Publication Date June 2005
Publisher: Gwasg Gomer, Llandysul
Format: Paperback, 215 x 139 mm, 106 pages Language: English Out of print - New edition planned Our Price: £8.99   
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An exploration of the mysteries of the Welsh bardic craft of cynghanedd, prepared for those who are not Welsh speaking, together with a CD presenting readings of the quotations discussed in the volume. First published in November 2004.

Astudiaeth o ddirgelion crefft farddol y gynghanedd, a baratowyd ar gyfer y rhai nad ydynt yn medru'r Gymraeg, ynghyd â CD yn cyflwyno darlleniadau o'r dyfyniadau a drafodir yn y gyfrol. Cyhoeddwyd yn wreiddiol yn Nhachwedd 2004.
Recent National Eisteddfod winner of both Chair and Crown, Mererid Hopwood here gives a clear, detailed and authoritative introduction to the uniquely Welsh poetic phenomenon of 'cynghanedd'.

While she is unequivocal that it is inextricably bound into the Welsh language, and that to truly learn and practice it takes many years and a good deal of encouragement, she is also keen to give outsiders and beginners a taste of (and for) its magic.

The handbook is written in English with both grace and wit, but she then uses carefully chosen examples from the best of classic and modern Welsh poetry to illustrate the principal rules of the craft and convey the true music of the art. These, with exercises and a CD, move her readers through the most frequently used patterns and into a selection of the 24 measures. However, her emphasis is always on the importance of hearing the harmony, and understanding that the sound (rather than the letter of the law) is paramount.

As an outstanding poet herself, she can speak directly about the freeing, inspiring qualities of writing within the tradition; encapsulated in the phrase ‘Chwilio am air a chael mwy’ –‘searching for a word and finding more’. She convinces us that the ‘chains’ are in fact ‘wings’ and we can begin to see why the forms have had such endless and timeless fascination.

My only small criticism is that the CD needs more points of access. In the early stages one needs to be able to replay a phrase or a verse without going through the whole chapter's notes. However, the final collection of extracts from major recent poems is a fine resource and Mererid's reading is a joy.

Caroline Clark

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.


Last Updated on 11 March 2011
Cynghanedd and Kylie

Cartoon cavemen used it. Death threats agaist pop superstars have been made in it. Tabloid headline-writers swear by it. And Mererid Hopwood will tell you what it is and how to use it!

In her latest book Singing in Chains, the Carmarthen-based Chair and Crown winner provides an insight into the Welsh poetic device of ‘cynghanedd’ and includes some contemporary examples of its use in English. 'Yabba-dabba-do!', ‘I’ll Kill Kylie’, and ‘Sponsored by Marks and Spencer’ are just a few of the catchphrases, newspaper headlines and advertising slogans cited as examples of the continued irresistibility of this art form.

'Cynghanedd' means ‘harmony’, and it is the music of Welsh poetry throughout the ages that the author celebrates in this accessible handbook. In it she explores the intricacy and beauty of the art, inviting the reader (or rather, listener) to marvel at its clarity and complexity. Her explanation of the rules and conventions, followed by simple exercises, will also allow beginners to try their hand at this ancient yet thoroughly contemporary craft.

What is more, the book places the phenomenon of 'cynghanedd' in its social and historical context, reminding us that it has been, and continues to be, inextricable from the Welsh language itself.

Singing in Chains is accompanied by a CD, on which the author reads a selection of the examples, exercises, lines and poems included in the book, so that the music of cynghanedd can truly be ‘heard’.
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