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  1. Tinker

    IV. Four Line Construction

    Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry The Frame Four Line Construction A poetic unit of four lines is termed a quatrain or a tetrastich. Quatrain infers the unit is written adjacent to other stanzas but like the couplet, it can be a stand-alone poem. The term tetrastich infers a stand-alone poem of four lines but the term is rarely used. Sir, I admit your general rule, That every poet is a fool, But you yourself may serve to show it, That every fool is not a poet. --Samuel Taylor Coleridge Quatrain is a French word referring to a four-line stanzaic unit, arranged in any variation. In its multiple variations, it is the most prevalent unit of English Verse and probably of all the world. The Vedic forms, as well as Sanskrit, Chinese and Korean forms are predominantly written in 4 line units. If I were to include all of the four line stanzaic forms on this page I would probably have to list over half of the forms I found in my research. Therefore I included only a few of the more common and post the rest under the forums for their national or regional origin. In English, the quatrain is often written in iambic tetrameter but most often the meter of the quatrain is dependent on the verse form and poet's preference. Alternating rhyme quatrain is a 4 line unit with alternating abab rhyme which changes from stanza to stanza. (abab cdcd efef etc.) Line length and meter is at the discretion of the poet. When written in iambic pentameter it is called the Sicilian quatrain. (Note: an octave made up of 2 alternating rhymed quatrains would have a rhyme scheme of ababcdcd vs an octave with alternating rhyme abababab) Line length and meter at the discretion of the poet. To a Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) Whither, midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue Thy solitary way? Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong As, darkly seen against the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along. Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sing On the chafed ocean side? There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast– The desert and illimitable air– Lone wandering, but not lost. All day thy wings have fanned, At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere, Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near. And soon that toil shall end; Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend, Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest. Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart Deeply has sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart. He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright. Envelope Quatrain is a rhymed 4 line unit, "the envelope" refers to the rhyme scheme abba. The bb is enveloped by the aa. An envelope can also be axxa with x being unrhymed. Line length and meter at the discretion of the poet. Goodnight, Mac Adoo by Judi Van Gorder The noisy bird has tucked her head and mutely gone to sleep, she slowly switches feet upon her perch, her aviary bed. Epigram quatrain from the Greek epigraphein, meaning "to write on, inscribe" that was originally inscriptions on stone. The epigram developed into a 4 line unit of narrative verse which is a brief clever often satirical saying. Rhyme and meter are optional. Two quatrains can be written for an epigram but it is rare to exceed that number. Oscar Wilde by Dorothy Parker (1893- 1967) If, with the literate, I am Impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit, We all assume that Oscar said it. Epitaph quatrain epitaphion "a funeral oration" is a 4 line unit in narrative verse, originally to be inscribed on a tombstone. It should be a moving expression of grief, it can be light or even cynical. Rhyme and meter optional. Found at Epitaphs: Choosing Tombstones Beneath this simple stone That marks his resting place Our precious darling sleeps alone In the Lord's long embrace. Heroic stanza is a quatrain made up of two heroic couplets. Lines written in iambic pentameter, rhyme scheme aabb. Dough by Tõnis Veenpere This is what she told me that we need: the winter foods, the wood for heating, seed. But I have something else in mind instead. I'll harvest stars, we'll bake them into bread. In Memoriam Stanza Dipodic Quatrain Variant rhymed quatrain is a 4 line unit that carries random rhyme. Each quatrain has rhyme but without a set pattern such as aaxa, xaaa, axaa, or xaxa with x being unrhymed. Line length and meter at the discretion of the poet. ,
  2. Explore the Craft of Writing American Verse Invented Forms The Bryant describes observations of nature as metaphor for the social and political world around us. This stanzaic projacked form is patterned after To A Water Foul by American poet, William Cullen Bryant 1794- 1878. It was found in Viola Berg's Pathways for the Poet 1977. The elements of the Bryant are: stanzaic, written in any # of quatrains metered, L1,L4 trimeter and L2,L3 are pentameter. Short lines are indented. rhymed, alternating rhymed quatrains, abab cdcd etc a pastoral metaphor A Water Foul by William Cullen Bryant Whither, 'midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue Thy solitary way? Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly painted on the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along. Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean side? There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,-- The desert and illimitable air,-- Lone wandering, but not lost. All day thy wings have fanned At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere: Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near. And soon that toil shall end, Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend Soon o'er thy sheltered nest. Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart. He, who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright. Nursery by Judi Van Gorder The hornet builds its nest with honeycomb precision, spit in turn is woven into cells, a silken breast to suckle, birth discerned. The Taylor is a projacked form also found in Berg's Pathways For the Poet, patterned from Upon a Spider Catching a Fly by Edward Taylor (1642-1729) who some call the finest colonial poet although his work was not published until 1939. A puritan poet, his poems are lyrical and yet reflect a staunch Calvanist tone. The elements of the Taylor are: stanzaic, written in any number of cinquains. metric, iambic, L1 trimeter, L2 and L4 dimeter, L3 tetrameter, L5 monometer. rhymed or at least near rhymed ababb cdcdd efeff etc. Justice Undone by Judi Van Gorder Upon a Spider Catching a Fly by Edward Taylor Thou sorrow, venom elf. Is this thy play, To spin a web out of thyself To catch a fly? For why? I saw a pettish wasp Fall foul therein, Whom yet thy whorl pins did not clasp Lest he should fling His sting. But as afraid, remote Didst stand here at And with thy little fingers stroke And gently tap His back. Thus gently him didst treat Lest he should pet, And in a froppish waspish heat Should greatly fret Thy net. Whereas the silly fly, Caught by its leg, Thou by the throat took'st hastily And 'hind the head Bite dead. This goes to pot, that not Nature doth call. Strive not above what strength hath got Lest in the brawl Thou fall. This fray seems thus to us: Hell's spider gets His entrails spun to whipcords' thus, And wove to nets And sets, To tangle Adam's race In's stratagems To their destructions, spoiled, made base By venom things, Damned sins. But mighty, gracious Lord, Communicate Thy grace to break the cord; afford Us glory's gate And state. We'll Nightingale sing like, When perched on high In glory's cage, Thy glory, bright, And thankfully, For joy. Word Sonnet Technically this invented form would not qualify as a true sonnet because it is simply 1 word per line, no meter, no pivot. But it does employ three distinct features of the sonnet. It is 14 lines long, rooted in contemplative meditation and initially was rhymed using either the Shakespearean or Italian Sonnet rhyme schemes. The history of the form is an example of how poetic form evolves. From it's roots of single monosyllabic, rhymed words using the Shakespearean Sonnet rhyme scheme in America, and around the same time using the Italian Sonnet rhyme scheme in France, to eliminating rhyme all together and finally evolving to triple and quintuple words with no stanzaic groupings and whatever other variations poets could dream of in between. According to an article, Forplay: An Anthology of Word Sonnets by Seymour Mayne and Christal Steck, the Word Sonnet employing the Shakespearean Sonnet rhyme scheme was first introduced by an American poet Brad Leithauser in 1985, Post-Coitum Tristesse and later included in his anthology of New Formalist poetry, Rebel Angels. Around the same time as the anthology publication in the US, French poet, René Nelli, published his own "Word Sonnets" in Sonnets Monosyllabiques using the Italian Sonnet rhyme scheme. However you want to create the image, a 14 line poem using only 1 word per line is similar to haiku. The elements of the Word Sonnet are: lyrical, inspired by reflective or contemplative meditation a poem in 14 lines. single word lines, initially, monosyllabic words were used but the syllable count is at the discretion of the poet. Variations have used 3 word lines and 5 word lines but personally with that many words, you defeat the focus of the single word usage. initially rhymed, either abba cddc effe gg or ababcdcd efgefg. More often now, unrhymed. Solitary Write chose white rose. Ink penned pink end. One traced scroll. Lone graced soul. ~~jvg
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