|The Breton lai is composed of rhymed couplets with lines that are eight syllables in length. The subject of the verse is a tale of love and chivalry, often involving supernatural and fairy-world Celtic motifs. The word is derived from the Celtic word laid, meaning "song." The earliest Breton lais to survive in writing are likely The Lais of Marie de France, thought to have been composed in the 1170s by a French poet living in England.
|A Breton Lai
A Breton lai should treat of love--
The ups, the downs, and traits thereof.
The verse endures from days of yore,
Imbued with arcane Celtic lore.
Marie de France wrote quite a few,
But here is one composed for you.
In Celtia there lies the scene...
It's Beltaine time; the night's pristine.
A bonfire on the beach burns bright;
The time and place are perfect, right?
I've viewed this beauty once before
And always longed for something more.
Resolved to speak my mind at last,
I find my tongue is tied up fast,
So quickly turn and walk away.
Tomorrow is another day...
Thus ends my story: incomplete.
I hope this tale you won't repeat.
A man who writes a Breton lai
Should know exactly what to say!