Writing Exercise – The Gwawdodyn

by | October 6, 2015 | Writing Exercise | 8 comments

by Ashley Lister

The gwawdodyn (pronounced GWOW-DOD-IN) is a Welsh form of poetry that is
presented in a variety of different guises. Differences are argued on the presentation
of the rhyme scheme of the third and fourth lines. However, my favourite
interpretation of this form is illustrated by the poem below.

There’s no greater pleasure than
I say this whilst we’re reminiscing.
Your lips against mine: our tongues intertwined
Let’s try it: find out what you’re missing.

This version of the gwawdodyn follows this structure:

x x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x x a
x x x x b x x x x b
x x x x x x x x a

Each x represents a syllable. Lines 1, 2 and 4 each have nine syllables,
and an ‘a’ rhyme. Line 3 has ten syllables and an internal ‘b’ rhyme.

Keep in mind there are other versions of this (and perhaps the reason I
like this one so much is because it reminds me of the limerick). As always, I
look forward to seeing your poetry in the comments box below.

Ashley Lister

Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his second title published under his own name: Swingers: Female Confidential by Ashley Lister (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753513439) Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Indeed, how does this differ from a limerick?

    • Ashley Lister

      A very good question (and I've been remiss in not responding sooner). This only differs from the limerick in that the syllable count of the a rhyme is fixed at nine syllables, whereas the limerick can vary syllable counts in the a rhyme to something substantially different from 9 syllables. Similarly, the b rhyme in a limerick can be 4, 5, 6 and & syllables depending on the verse. However, whilst it looks like I'm hedging, I know that you're right and this form is not so markedly different from the beloved limerick.

  2. Rachel Green

    A couple of ten syllable line but they scanned better this way.

    Her nails on my skin were so scratchy
    I dripped candles until she was waxy
    we lay on my bed while she gave me head
    then I sent her back home in a taxi

    • Ashley Lister

      Rachel – classy as always.
      In the second line, could you have said, 'til she was waxy ? It would lose one of the syllables.

      That said, I agree with your point about the scansion. This is intelligent and sexy without being as reductive as the limerick form 🙂

  3. Almendra Sabor

    Written in the spirit of a limerick.

    A dinner alone with my dear heart
    I brought in dessert on a low cart
    My skirt flipped up high, I sat on a pie
    Now look what I've done; I'm your sweet tart

    • Ashley Lister

      Almendra – that is clever from start to finish. I know some writers who eschew rhyming forms but you've made this one work. It's witty (yes it does read like a limerick) but it's also saucy enough to get readers intrigued.

  4. Jean Roberta

    These are delightful, and they do look like variations on a limerick. I so regret missing the deadline for the anthology of erotic verse that you are currently editing, Ashley, but I'm sure I'll see familiar names in it.

    • Ashley Lister

      Jean Roberta

      They are fun, aren't they? I like that they're similar to limericks but they have enough of their own heritage to make them seem like something new.

      I'll keep you fully up to speed with developments in the anthology. It looks like it will be a cracking read.

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