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Tinker

Viet: Luc Bat / Song That Luc Bat / Song That Luc Bat Sonnet

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Southeast Asian Verse

Viet Nam is the eastern most country of Southeast Asia bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia and the South China Sea. Its literary history goes back to the 10th century in folk verse (Ca dau). Many of the forms are named simply for the syllable count, word count or line count. Because of the musical and complicated rhythm and rhyme of Viet poetry, it is rich in "word play". Onomatopoeia is common and direct imagery (phu), metaphoric imagery (ti) and the emotion or tone (hung) are balanced.

  • The luc-bat (six-eight) is the most popular of Viet folk verse sung by minstrels and peasants from the 11th century. The form is made up of a number of tonal rhythms with both end and medial rhyme. The early pieces were meant to be chanted, and later became limited block print editions circulated among friends and connoisseurs and printed in ch nom, the script of the 11th century. There is, in Vietnamese, a syllabic tone in the pattern. The defining feature other than the tonal pattern that cannot be duplicated in English is the climbing rhyme pattern.

    The Viet poem The Tale of Kieu by Nguyen Du alternates between flat or even tones and sharp or oblique tones which cannot be duplicated in English.

    Tram nam trong coi nguoi a
    Chu tai chu menh kheola ghet nhau
    Trai qua mot cuoc be dau
    Nhung pieu trong thay ma pau pon long

    The elements of the luc-bat are:

    1. syllabic, alternating lines of 6-8 syllables. The alternating lines can continue almost without limit, the number of lines can reach several thousand in the case of long narratives.
    2. rhymed, climbing rhyme scheme.

      x x x x x a
      x x x x x a x b
      x x x x x b
      x x x x x b x c
      x x x x x c
      x x x x x c x d and so on.....

    3. suited for poems of proverbs and sayings, work songs , love songs, children's songs, lullabies and riddle.

      Taking Care of Business by Judi Van Gorder

      Procrastination stays
      detached from work and plays the game
      to seem employed. I tame
      the urge to flee the blame and keep
      eyes averted then leap
      sideways or pretend sleep. Beware
      the tempting fun trap, dare
      take charge, avoid the snare, begin
      with one small part, grin
      in expectation, pin your goal,
      ready, set, rock and roll.

  • The Song That Luc Bat is a language specific stanzaic form from Viet Nam. The form specifies placement of flat or sharp sounds which are impossible to emulate in English, but if you are willing to overlook that one feature, an English Song That Luc Bat is a challenge some might like to attempt. The name literally means double seven, six- eight.

    The elements of the Song That Luc Bat are:

    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
    2. syllabic, 7-7-6-8 syllables per line.
    3. rhymed, climbing rhyme, including internal and linking rhyme. a ab b bc cd de e ef etc. L2 internally rhymes with L1, L5 carries the linking rhyme to the next stanza.
    4. composed with sharp and flat sounds. This of course is language specific and impossible in English but we try.

      x x ♭ x ♭ x a
      x x ♭ x a x b
      x ♭ x ♯ x b
      x ♭ x ♯ x b x c

      x x ♭ x c x d
      x x ♭ x d x e
      x ♭ x ♯ x e
      x ♭ x ♯ x e x f

  • Song That Luc Bat Sonnet is not a Viet form but a recent invented form which uses 3 Song That Luc Bat quatrains and ends with a couplet framed at the poet's discretion. The final couplet can be a repetition of L12 followed by a repetition of L1 or it could simply be a 6 syllable rhymed couplet, best using the last linking I rhyme. Sonnet Comparison Chart  The elements of the Song That Luc Bat Sonnet are:
     
    1. a quatorzain, made up of 3 Song That Luc Bat quatrains followed by a rhymed couplet.
    2. syllabic, stanzas 1,2,3 are 7-7-6-8 syllables per line, it is recommended the end couplet is 7 syllable lines.
    3. rhymed, climbing rhyme including internal and linking rhyme. a ab b bc cd de e ef fg gh h hi ii.

      x x x x x x a
      x x x x a x b
      x x x x x b
      x x x x b x c

      x x x x c x d
      x x x x c x e
      x x x x x e
      x x x x e x f

      x x x x f x g
      x x x x g x h
      x x x x x h
      x x x x h x I

      x x x x x x I
      x x x x x x i

  • Tho Bon Chu or Four Word Verse is written as its name implies, measuring the number of words per line rather than syllables. The elements of the Tho Bon Chu are:
    1. stanzaic, written in a series of couplets.
    2. measured by the number of words in the line, each line has 4 word.
    3. rhymed, tonal rhyme in 1 of 2 distinct pattern and often end rhymed at the poets discretion. w=word Language specific.

      When end rhymed.           

      w ♭w a#
      w # w a
      or
      w # w a
      w ♭w a#

      When not end rhymed

      w ♭w #
      w # w ♭
      or
      w # w ♭
      w ♭w #

  • Tho Nam Chu or Five Word Verse is measured by word count and written in quatrains. When written in octaves it is known as Five-Eight Poetry  The elements of the Tho Nam Chu are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. It can also be written in octaves.
    2. measured by number of words, 5 words per line.
    3. tonal and end rhymed, end rhyme schem aaxa bbxb ccxc etc. x being unrhymed. When written in octaves the rhyme aaxaaaxa bbxbbbxb ect. The tonal scheme appears to be in alternating the flat and sharp sound in the 2nd and 4th words like the Tho Bon Chu.
       
  • Tho Sau Chu or Six Word Verse is measured by word count and uses either alternate of envelope rhyme. It can be written in quatrains or octaves. When written in octaves it is called Six-Eight Poetry  The elements of the Tho Sau Chu are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. It can also be written in any number of octaves.
    2. measured by word count, 6 words per line.
    3. rhymed, either alternate, abab cdcd etc. (when written as Six-Eight abababab cdcdcdcd etc.) or envelope, abba cddc etc. (when written in octaves abbaabba cddccddc etc.)
       
  • Tho Bay Chu or Seven Word Poetry is written with seemingly more flexible tonal pattern than most Viet verse with the exception of when an end word is flat, the 3rd word must be sharp and when the end word is sharp, the 3rd word in the line must be flat. The elements of the Tho Bay Chu are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
    2. measured by number of words, 7 words per line.
    3. rhymed, tonal rhyme appears to be at the discretion of the poet except if and end word is flat, the 3rd word of the line must be sharp or if the end word is sharp, the 3rd word of the line must be flat. End rhyme aaxa bbxb etc. or xaxa xbxb etc.
       
  • Tho Tam Chu or Eight Word Poetry appears to be more flexible in stanza length as well as tonal and end rhyme. The rhyme schemes are patterns I found in actual poems. It appears to me that as long as there is rhyme, it probably doesn't matter what the pattern is.  The elements of the Tho Tam Chu are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of either tercets, quatrains or septets.
    2. measured by the number of words in the line, 8 word per line.
    3. rhymed,
    4. tonal rhyme is flexible except, if the end word is sharp then the 3rd word is also sharp and words 5 and 6 are flat. Conversely if the end word is flat then the 3rd word is also flat and the 5th and 6th words are sharp.
    5. end rhyme
    6. when written in tercets
      w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w a b
      w w w w b w w b
    7. when written in quatrains is:
      w w w w w w w w     or    w w w w w w w w
      w w w w w w w a             w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w w w            w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w w a             w w w w w w w w
    8. when written as a septet
      w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w w a
      w w w w w w w b
      w w w w w w w b
      w w w w w w w w

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