The Glosa

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Literature Text

The glosa is an early Renaissance form that was developed by poets of the Spanish court in the 14th and 15th centuries. In a glosa, tribute is paid to another poet. The opening quatrain, called a cabeza, is by another poet, and each of their four lines are imbedded elsewhere in the glosa.

The opening quatrain is followed by four stanzas, each of which is generally ten lines long, that elaborate or "glosses" on the cabeza chosen. Each ending line (10th line) of the four following stanzas is taken from the cabeza.

The usual rhyme scheme of a glosa is final word rhyming of the 6th, 9th and the borrowed 10th lines.


Irish Pride and Prejudice
(Glosa verse by Darren Anderson)

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

W.H. Auden
In memory of W.B. Yeats

A putrid scene of civil conflict
returns without regret,
festering in dead hearts,
lacking the fortitude to forgive.
Waiting, we long for a successor
to match Yeats' intuitive art.
A Celtic hero able
to play with hostile minds
and brave the poisoned part
in the deserts of the heart.

His whirling intellect sliced
through disaster and distress.
Fervor enough to bend reality,
and imagination to create it.
Yet, now he lives within his page
Unable to take part
in the drama unfolding
on that great Irish stage.
We need an actor with his heart.
Let the healing fountain start.

Sectarian riots grow
a blistering boil of religious identity.
Deep scars riddle
faces of Catholic and Protestant alike.
“Unity of Being”, an Irish serenity,
forgotten nationalist ways
buried by bludgeoning stones,
thrown by the hands of hatred.
A feat that would not amaze,
In the prison of his days.

The tall, young man
with lanky cloak and hat,
no longer strolls the streets of Dublin.
His stunning tone no longer heard,
only imagined by the reader.
Ireland must revive his ways,
for brutality never pays.
Let Oisin and Patrick speak his words,
inspire beyond the grave
teach the free man how to praise.

Here is an example of a variation on the glosa:

Princess Dreams by Lori Jaye

It is a good thing to be rich and strong,
but it is a better thing to be loved.

To be a fair princess was my heart’s dream
living a perfect life - so it would seem
servants to do all the chores I disliked
I could live as I pleased, do as I liked
I would be revered, remembered in song
It is a good thing to be rich and strong

Until a real princess stole all news shows,
brought media focus to royal woes
I had thought a charmed life was worry free
then I saw that that dream wasn’t for me
still might be nice to live among white-gloved
but it is a better thing to be loved.

It is a good thing to be rich and strong,
but it is a better thing to be loved .

some information from
This definition was compiled by ~ pamelaski
© 2004 - 2021 poetic-forms
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sharkoftheday's avatar
I heard of these in Don Quixote. No idea what they were though at the time.
darkcrescendo's avatar
Very interesting.

I shall have to try one of these one day.
Thanks for submitting this.

TalesFromMyCell's avatar
This is so interesting! I have never heard of these! Great info!