Lethrannaegecht Mor Poetry Form

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Here’s what the Lethrannaegecht Mor poetry form is:

Lethrannaegecht Mor is a casual form hailing from ancient Ireland.

As with many Celtic forms, there is an emphasis on repeated sounds and rhyme.

This particular form is fairly compact, with each verse being just twenty syllables, though the poem as a whole can be any number of verses.

So if you want to learn all about the Lethrannaegecht Mor poetry type, then you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s jump right in!

Lethrannaegecht Mor Poem Type (Simply Explained & Examples)

Forms of Poetry: Lethrannaegecht Mor

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Lethrannaegecht Mor is an ancient Irish casual form.

I will be referring to it mostly as the “Leth Mor” from here on out, because the full spelling of Lethrannaegecht gives me nightmares from which I may never recover.

The Leth Mor is a fairly simple form comprised of rhyming quatrains that showcases a few techniques unique to Celtic poetry.

Do keep in mind, however, that “Leth Mor” is just a nickname I’m using to protect both your sanity and mine.

(You’re welcome.)

In scholarly discussion you would still be required to somehow remember and pronounce the full name.

Basic Properties of Lethrannaegecht Mor

blank notebook with candle
Rhyme StructureStrict
OriginAncient Ireland
PopularityRarely mentioned in the modern day

How Is Lethrannaegecht Mor Structured?

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The Leth Mor consists entirely of quatrains.

Every line has just five syllables, making it a surprisingly demanding form in terms of rhyme scheme.

The second and fourth lines rhyme with each other.

The first and third lines often share consonance with these rhymes but are not true rhymes.

A big part of this is that the third line actually shares a cross-rhyme with the middle of the fourth line.

The first and second lines are additionally linked by assonance.

Celtic poetry in general loves assonance and consonance.

A certain “harmony of sound” is expected of Celtic poems, especially in older forms, which is usually defined by the repetitions of sounds, words, or entire lines.

This form also loves to employ dunadh.

This is essentially a repetition at the end of the poem that brings it full circle, with the whole poem ending on the same sound, word, or phrase that it first started on.

Note that how you interpret dunadh as an English speaker is fairly flexible.

Example of a Lethrannaegecht Mor

pretty woman eat a cake in a cafe

Maybe I’ll have cake.
Better that than clay.
It takes time to cook.
It looks like I may.

The above example can only be called a Leth Mor if we’re being a little generous with the stringent requirements, but I’ll make it a point to discuss what is and isn’t perfect here.

First, the rhyme scheme is intact and exact.

Second, the syllable counts are correct.

Where things get complicated is in the sounds used and the spacing of the cross-rhyme.

While cake and cook do consonate with “clay” in the sense that they share a first sound, they do not consonate with “may.”

This technique is not always used, though, particularly in examples that feature the cross-rhyme.

As for the cross-rhyme, “cook” and “looks” do rhyme (albeit with a tiny slant due to the “-s”) but it would be more common in old Irish poems for the rhyme to be on the third syllable.

Still, malleability is expected of difficult forms and Irish forms are especially forgiving.

It’s not uncommon for a syllable to shift.

Now why is it worth showing a “flawed” example in this case?

The key factor here is flexibility.

While I described the form as if every element were set in stone, that’s not actually the reality of old Celtic poetry.

In fact, one description of the form points out that it will usually either have the cross-rhyme or have the first and third lines consonate, but not often both.

Additionally, ancient Irish forms allow for a poem to be as short as one verse in the chosen meter or as long as the poet can go without stopping.

It’s entirely up to personal discretion.

As for the spacing of cross-rhymes, Celtic poetry routinely shifts these internal rhymes by a syllable or two.

While these are “forms” it’s important to remember that forms are and always have been subject to change, both over time and from poet to poet.

Tips for Writing in Lethrannaegecht Mor

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Your first goal should be the rhyme scheme.

I would consider the stanza length, rhyme scheme, the syllable counts, and the focus on repeating sounds to be absolute properties of the form.

These should be seen as milestones that you absolutely need to reach.

The rhyme scheme, by this metric, will be your first major obstacle.

Finding a way to achieve rhyme when you only have five syllables per line to work with will not be easy.

You might initially be tempted to treat the poem as if it were two ten-syllable lines, but don’t.

That would be disrespectful to the form.

Instead, consider writing the lines that must be written for the rhymes scheme (the second and fourth) first.

You can then add the first and third lines as addendums that lead into the other lines if you want to.

Of course, this approach is only a suggestion but it’s worth remembering that you don’t’ always need to write lines in the order that they’ll be in for the final draft.

The next challenge will be incorporating a cross-rhyme between the third and fourth lines.

You have to think seriously about whether or not you’ll be aiming for consonance on the first and third lines beforehand, since that will inform the limitations you’re working with.

Ultimately, I think it’s up to the individual poet to decide what concessions should and should not be made for the sake of the best poem you can possibly write.

One over-arching tip for this form is to stick with short words and easy-to-rhyme sounds.

Avoid uncommon letters and sounds where possible.

You don’t have space for words that are longer than two syllables, generally speaking.

Despite the inviting length, the Lethrannaegecht Mor can be quite intimidating if you marry yourself to every possible restriction.

But above all, remember this:

The form is meant to be a casual form, as I mentioned at the beginning.

If you’re clawing at your skin trying to make everything work perfectly, then stop trying to be perfect.

Celtic poetry, despite its many different techniques and listed restrictions, doesn’t actually expect the poet to be perfect.

Flexibility in the rules is expected as long as a sincere and heartfelt attempt is made to express what the form wants to be.

Poet’s Note


Note that purists and ruler-cracking schoolteachers may have stricter requirements than the ancient Celtic people did when it comes to formal poetry.

They don’t believe in fun, after all.

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