T for Tanka

Tanka is another widely famous Japanese poetry form. If we go with the widely accepted Haiku form of 5-7-5 then a tanka is 5-7-5-7-7 syllable poem. However, it’s better to think of a tanka as a 5-line poem with 2 short lines (lines 1 and 3) and and 3 slightly longer ones (lines 2,4 and 5).

Here’s one of my attempts at a Tanka poem.

A tinker bell
spun my beliefs out of
my head
While I tried to drag myself
out of the plato’s cave

S for Sonnet

O Sonnet!
Thou art swa lufiendlic

The two most famous forms of the sonnet are the Shakespearean Sonnet (named after William Shakespeare) and the Petrarcan Sonnet (named after Francesco Petrarca). But sonnets don’t necessarily need to be Shakespearean or Petrarcan to be considered sonnets. In fact, there are any number of other sonnet varieties as well.

Let’s go over the rules of a Shakespearean Sonnet:

  1. This poem has 14 lines divided up into 4 stanzas. 3 quartrets and the final 2 lines are put together in a couplet
  2. The rhyme scheme is structured as:- abab/ cdcd/ efef/ gg

The structure of a Petrarcan Sonnet is a little more complicated. The first eight lines (or octave) are always rhymed abbaabba. But the final six lines (or sestet) can be rhymed any number of ways: cdcdcd, cdedce, ccdccd, cdecde, or cddcee.

There are couple of interesting terminologies related to Sonnets that I would also like to cover:-

  • crown of sonnets is made by seven sonnets. The last line of each sonnet must be used as the first line of the next until the seventh sonnet. The last line of that seventh sonnet must be the first line of the first sonnet.
  • sonnet redouble is a sequence of 15 sonnets. Each line from the first sonnet is used (in order) as the the last line of the following 14 sonnets.

Shakespeare’s ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ (Sonnet 18) is one of my all time favourite sonnets

Here’s a Sonnet that I wrote a long time ago.
Sonnet 4: Wilt our love be as translucent sky?

Wilt our Love be as translucent sky?
diffracting all the chromatic hopes and dreams
A preluding surface on what we shalt lie
That stretches over what we seekth, in eternal schemes?

Could I credit the transcendent stargaze,
And drench my self in glory of revery
Should be exalted from my mortal days
Till throned by my divine wealth,a heart treasury.

But love so pure wilt borrow me happiness
Rather would I be free than so made bound
That pain I hath embossed by my noblesse
Thy Immanent presence shalt incur love profound.

A human heart to which my soul might flee
And dream to fly into the eternal space of love,with thee.

R for Rispetto

Rispetto (Respect in Italin) is a Tuscan folk verse form, a version of strambotto. The rispetto lyric is generally composed of eight hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) lines. The earliest form of Rispettos used the rhyme scheme abababcc . Later, the scheme ababccdd became more prominent, and other variations can also be found.

Some of the sources indicate that Rispettos were originally written to pay “respect” to a woman but over the years, this form has offered itself up for other subjects and variations.

Here’s my example of a Rispetto Poem

Walls rust under grueling hours of acid rain
The house falling apart one brick at a time.
Wings of butterflies withering under pain
But what’s left at the closing is all mine

I’ve fought the chocking smell of tempered spices
I’ve gambled for a six while rolling the dices
Maybe this time I can set the butterfly free
It’s colours were meant for the world to see

This post is a Guest Blog post by my dear friend Rukhsaar Gulzar

Q for Quatern

The Quatern is a French poetic form that incorporates the use of a refrain. It has 16 lines broken up into 4 quatrains (or 4-line stanzas). Each line is comprised of eight syllables. The first line of the poem is the refrain. In the second stanza, the refrain appears in the second line; in the third stanza, the third line and in the fourth stanza, the fourth (and final) line. There are no rules regarding the rhyming structure so you are free to use any rhyming schemes or can go free verse.
If ‘R’ is the refrain, the poem would look like this- Rabc/ dRef/ ghRi/ jklR.

Here’s my ‘Quatern’ poem entitled ‘ We can’t hide from each other’

We cannot hide from each other
even when I whittle a box,
stuff all the memories inside
There is a hole staring at me.

And through that hole you stare at me
We cannot hide from each other
even behind the curtains of
my sentimental cruelty.

A chilling breeze gushes through them
These phantom storms of nostalgia
We cannot hide from each other
Cause I see our silhouettes kiss.

I scribble notes establishing
clauses indefinably sad
Although it seems imminent, yet
We cannot hide from each other.

P for Palindrome

This must be one of the most craziest forms of poetry. As we know that a palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or some sequence of numbers/ characters (like a Time Stamp) which reads the same backwards as in forward, such as civic, madam, rotator.

We apply the same concept in the Palindrome Poetry. The poem is divided into two halves, with same set of words in both the halves. However the order of words in the second half must be in reverse. Note that there is a word in the middle which acts as a bridge between the two halves. Due to this structure of two halves, it is also known as ‘Mirror Poetry’
While the rules sound very simple, it is equally harder to execute them. For instance, you can’t start the poem with words like ‘A’ and ‘the’ unless you plan to end the poem with them. You will have to use short phrases with minimum use of conjuctions as you have to make sure your words make sense both in the first half and on the way back.

Here’s my attempt at a Palindrome Poem:

Love awakens and
life changes
Metaphors of desire
Moments sweep you
Till dreams become ashes
Love is
Palindromic,
is Love?
Ashes become dreams
till you sweep moments
Desire of metaphors
changes life
and awakens love.

O for Ode

Odes are poems where the poet appreciates and praises the beauty of something. It can be about glorifying an event or individual or paying a tribute to someone/something.
One of the greatest Romantic Poets of all time, John Keats was a master of Odes. Here are some of John Keats’ Odes

Odes can be of three types:

  • Irregular/Pseudo-Pindaric ode: Focuses only on the praising aspect of the ode and does not have other rules. Usually a rhyme scheme is followed but it is not a necessity.
  • Horation ode: (named after the Latin poet, Horace) contains one stanza pattern(usually 2 or 4 lines in length) that repeats throughout the poem.
  • Pindaric ode: (named after the Greek poet, Pindar) is made up of a pattern of three stanzas called triads. This type of ode can be composed of several triads, but the first (the strophe) and the second (antistrophe) should be idnentical metrically with the third (epode) wandering off on its own metrical path.

I have chosen a very special topic to write an ode for. Martial Arts has been a part of my life from last 18 months and my experiences in Amateur circuit helped me pen this down.
Here is my ‘Ode to Martial Arts’ (Irregular Ode)

Shin to Shin, bone to bone
A thud that travels through my veins
my neck jammed against the cage
my legs wrapped inside the legs of my fear

I am a butterfly
caught between a storm and a cyclone
A candle burning at both ends
My bee like stings are a declining stock

My brain is sitting on a chess table
while my lungs are about to explode
and all I have left are the pawns,
of my diminishing spirit

The clanking of the bell
is a chime of catharsis.
Every unit of time is a
battle within a battle

My soul is that of a gladiator
My body, broken yet alive
My heartbeat is a cavalry choir
And at the end of this war
I am humble, I am more.

N for Nonet

The nonet poetic form is simple. It’s a 9-line poem that has 9 syllables in the first line, 8 syllables in the second line, 7 syllables in the third line, and continues to count down to one syllable in the final (ninth) line.

Here is my example:

I see the truth has been washed ashore
Lifeless like the sand it lays in
draped in dirt it has rolled in
hoping to be picked up,
be saved by the sun
And with a smirk,
the lie stands
amongst
us.

M for Madrigal

The Madrigal originated as an Italian form. It was also a form of music (Read here). The Italian Madrigals have a wide set of complex rules and even in those rules there’s so much variability that it is hard to define the elements and the structure of a Madrigal in just a few points.

So we should probably move on to the English-version of the Madrigal which was developed by Geoffrey Chaucer. (There is another form of Madrigal which was developed by Scot Poet William Drummond)

Let’s go over the rules laid out by Chaucer:
1) The poem has three stanzas: a tercet, a quatrain, and a sestet with the following rhyme pattern- abb abab abbabb.
2) All three of the lines in the opening tercet are refrains. So with the refrains the poem looks like this- 123 xx12 xxx123

Combining rules (1) and (2), we have

Line 1: A
Line 2: B1
Line 3: B2

Line 4: a
Line 5: b
Line 6: A
Line 7: B1

Line 8: a
Line 9: b
Line 10: b
Line 11: A
Line 12: B1
Line 13: B2

Here’s my example poem:

Yet another day as I lay in my bed
Hard to earn a bread, hard to make a wage
I am stranded deep in my own cage

I stare at a screen all day and it hurts my head
Seems like my life has become a blank page
Yet another day gone as I lay in my bed
Hard to earn a bread, hard to make a wage

I clasp onto a smile, but from inside I am dead
All this frustration, all this rage
I wonder why no damn soul was able to gauge
Yet another day gone as I lay in my bed
Hard to earn a bread, hard to make a wage
I am stranded deep in my own cage

L for Limericks

Limericks are a popular form of humourous and silly poetry and you might have heard of them.
These are five line poems which follow aabba rhyme scheme. Lines 1,2 and 5 are bit longer and rhyme while the shorter ones 3 and 4 rhyme. As mentioned on the top, they are humorous, silly and sometimes even bawdy.

Here’s one about me doing this A to Z Poetry series :

There is a young man who writes,
poetry in varied styles, about days and nights
He portrays his best
And hides some in his closet,
the skeleton remains of lovers who now lay quiet.

For more Limericks you should check this out – Limericks by Edward Lear from A Book of Nonsense

K for Kyrielle

The Kyrielle is a French four-line stanza form that has a refrain in the fourth line. Each of the lines must contain 8 syllables. The poem can be of minimum 2 stanzas or longer. The rhyme scheme in the poem could be any of aabb/ aaab/ abab and abcb.

My exampe below will help you get a better grip on the rules and structure of a Kyrielle :

You open out your palms to me
A rose of desire, burning flame
A cloud you pose to barren lands
Maybe my heart is not the same

A man so frail as cuckoo’s nest
A puzzle not so hard to tame
All of it, just a mirror now
because my heart is not the same

The hilltops have been fleeced to plains
“Oh my Lord, that is such a shame”
A plea, a song, and an exclaim
but my heart is just not the same.