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Glosa or Retruécano, Cabeza, Mote, Text. Double Glosa


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Spanish Verse

Glosa or Glose, (to gloss or comment on) also called Retruécano (play on words) is a commentary or expansion on words usually written by another. This poetic tool or technique is used by many forms including free verse.  However there are two specific forms , a formal fixed verse form and a stylized strophic verse that are referred to as "Glosa".

A thematic statement known as la cabeza, (the head), mote (motto) or text, usually begins the poem and the poet then expands upon each line of that statement in the body of the poem. The mote is often a quote, written by someone other than the poet although it is perfectly permissible to write your own text. Sources I've found indicate the genre was introduced in late 14th, early 15th century Spain by the court poets. This form appears to have led to the development of the Vilancico.

Note: In both frames credit should be given to the text, cabeza or mote source when it is written by another. It can be done by footnote or can be identified in the poem itself, to the right and just below the title, usually in small font

  • The elements of the formal Glosa or Glose as fixed verse form are:
    1. written in five stanzas, a quatrain followed by four 10 line stanzas (Spanish 10 lines or less). The mote or text that opens the poem is usually a quatrain from another poem. It is often a redondilla.
    2. (Spanish) syllabic, 8 syllable lines or (English) metered, iambic pentameter.
    3. rhymed, (English rhyme in the 6th 9th and borrowed 10th line. Rhyme scheme ABCD xxxxxaxxaA xxxxxbxxbB xxxxxcxxcC xxxxxdxxdD. ABCD is the refrain established by the lines of the quatrain. x can either be unrhymed or rhymed at the discretion of the poet.) (Spanish A1B 1B2A2 or A1B 1A2B2 ababababA1 cdcdcdcdB1 ect.) or abbaabbaA1 cdcdcdcdB1

      Ring Joyful
  • The elements of the less formal Glosa or Glose as a stylized strophic verse are:
    1. accentual verse (in the rhythm of everyday speech).
    2. consisting of 2 parts:
    3. Opening statement, a line or a short stanza that states the theme of the poem,
    4. The body of the poem is most often strophic, with one strophe of any number of lines for each line of the opening text. The strophe explains or expands on that line and then incorporates the line within the strophe, most often at the end as a refrain. The number of strophes or stanzas is determined by the number of lines in the opening text.
    5. rhymed or unrhymed at the discretion of the poet.
      Chimes    by Judi Van Gorder                          
      " Prove all things,
      hold fast that which is good."
                   1 Thessalonians 5:21
                   King James Version

      Test the clarity
      of the bell
      and take heed
      when the tocsin rings;
      it will always serve you well
      to study
      and prove all things

      in a world
      of trickery and deceit,
      the sound of truth
      is often misunderstood,
      its resonant tones
      must repeat,
      hold fast that which is good.

      (note: Poems written as a result of
       or response to a meditation on 
      scripture or another poem could
      fall under the genre of lectio divina.)










      Treasured Island          by Judi Van Gorder
      "For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land,
      so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti,
      full of peace and joy,
      but encompassed by all of the horrors of the half-lived life."
                             ----- Herman Melville from: Moby Dick

      The rocky cliffs rise
      above the sea,
      like a great wall holding back
      the watery main.
      Nations vie
      to control small bits of earth
      still, the appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land,

      and erodes the soil
      'til nothing's left
      but reef,
      like one who is stripped
      of all the frivolous
      trappings foolishly acquired in time,
      and then
      in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti,

      a secret place
      which first must be found
      then explored
      and once known,
      treasured above all else.
      It is the prize esteemed
      the elusive isle…
      full of peace and joy

      The journey there will be filled
      with choices.
      To risk the rifts
      can be its own reward,
      stay anchored
      in fear and you will be
      encompassed by all of the horrors of the half-lived life.

  • A Double Glosa can be written in either the formal or informal frame of the Glosa. In the informal frame the lines of the mote are repeated as a refrain twice in each strophe. AB xxxxxAxA BxxxxB (the placement of the 1st refrain may be anywhere in the strophe the 2nd refrain is usually the last line.) In the formal frame the refrain is repeated twice within the stanza. It is not specified but I assume it can be in addition to the rhyme of the L6 or it can be a replacement for the rhyme in L6. xxxxAaxxaA or xxxxxAxxaA.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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