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Ballads
History Early Ballads The exact origins of the ballads are unknown. Some propose ballads began as a communal activity, while others suggest a single composer created the form.  Many ballads were lost through time.  The earliest surviving ballads date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.  \"King Orfeo\" is one such ballad, as it dates back to the 1400s. These early ballads tend to be basic and not as descriptive as later ballads.  Early ballads often covered several years in one or two verses.  These ballads used iambic tetrameter in stanzas of four lines (aka 4-4-4-4 meter). Ballads first really caught on with the invention of the printin
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Sestinas
The word \"sestina\" comes from the Italian sesto, or six. The sestina is originally a French form, and a very old one, originating in the twelfth century in the work of Arnaut Daniel, a troubadour. It\'s lyrical and relies on the repetition of six key words and does not normally rhyme. The sestina\'s length lends itself to poems that tell stories or otherwise travel thematically, and its final stanza makes for a strong conclusion. The form has six sextets and a final tercet. Many sestinas are in iambic pentameter, but it is not necessary; but whatever meter is chosen is usually maintained throughout a single poem--so a sestina might be in p
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The Villanelle
A villanelle is a form used widely in France in the sixteenth century, and which remains popular among formal poets. Its strict repetition and rhyme scheme makes it a source of headaches and sleepless nights for those who enjoy writing them. The form lends itself better to exploration of a haunting theme than to a lyrical subject or story, simply because of the amount of repetition. Formally, the repeated lines are strict; some people vary them somewhat, altering punctuation or a few words, to soften the form somewhat. Most villanelles are in iambic pentameter, but any meter could be used, or none. The form is made up of five tercets and a q
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Pantoums
The pantoum, or pantun, is a form originating in Malaysia which was brought to the French language by Ernest Fouinet (not Victor Hugo, contrary to popular belief).  It was popularized by Victor Hugo and later Charles Beaudlaire.  In a pantoum, the lines are interlocking and the first line is identical to the last line, which gives the poem a static or a cyclical feeling. A pantoum has no set meter, but many use iambic tetrameter in the style of a ballad.  The poem is comprised of any number of quatrains rhyming ABAB.  Personally, I enjoy those which rhyme ABAB-BABA-ABAB and so on with only two sets of rhymes, but that is not required of a pa
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The Ballade and Chant Royale
The Ballade The ballade is one of the fixed forms that became so popular in France in the 14th century. The name derives from the Old Provençal ballada, a song sung while dancing. One of the first poets given credit for perfecting the style and popularizing the form is Guillaume de Machaut. The poem consists of three stanzas of eight lines each, followed by an envoy of four lines. Each stanza uses the same fourth, and last line, and these are also respectively, the second, and last line of the envoy. The form ends up looking like this. a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C a-b-a-B-b-c-b-C b-B-c-C One thing that makes this form a bit more cha
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The Triolet
Triolet- Write-Up History: The triolet (pronounced as tree-oh-lay) is one of the many fixed forms of verses we have today. It was invented in medieval France, and has been preserved through modern literature. Back in the medieval ages, the triolets were short witty poems that had a ten-syllable meter to it. It was perhaps due to the lightness of this structure that the triolet was often used to express humour, although it has been said that some of the first English triolets were of spiritual content. Form: A triolet is a French verse of eight lines and two rhymes. Out of these eight lines, five of them are repeated or refrained lines
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Tanka
Tanka (or Waka) Its origin is Japan, its history since whenever. From what\'s been archaeologically found, the oldest tanka dates back to a.D. 620. Consequently, and obviously this form is far older than the haiku, which firmly established itself in the Edo era. The oldest anthology of previously made tanka is said to be made around the year a.D. 760 (This anthology is called Manyoshu and contains over 4000 poems in 20 volumes written by everybody from the emperor to normal peasants). The themes were - not surprisingly - drawn from nature and tradition, then evolved from the personal to subjective, adding Chinese influences of philosophy and
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The Luc Bat
The Luc Bat Many poets enjoy writing in Tri meter (six syllable lines) and Tetra meter (eight syllable lines), so this form should be fun to experiment with. Some of you who prefer lyrical poetry might find this form useful, as well as challenging, because it lends itself quite nicely to some styles of story telling as well. The Luc Bat is a Vietnamese form of poetry, which simply means "six eight." You can see there was an influence by the French as it was The Colony of Indo China before it became Vietnam. It was introduced into Europe by the French, but for some reason never became popular. The odd lines (1, 3, 5, etc.) are six syllables
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Haiku
Haiku is a type of poetic form as well as a way of describing and experiencing the world. A haiku is a very short, 17 syllable form. It usually consists of three lines with a 5 - 7- 5 syllable pattern. This seems deceptively simple, but the haiku form can take years to master. A well written haiku is based in the physical world of our senses, but suggests something more deep, and usually linked to nature and its existence. However, a more modern version of haiku called free-form-haiku is more relaxed on terms of the subject (however, it must still be of a spiritual nature). The original form of haiku does not sound appealing when read aloud
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The Ghazal
The Ghazal is an adaptation of a Persian form of poetry used to honor emperors and noblemen. A part of this poem broke off and evolved into the Ghazal. It is not a very commonly used English form as it was introduced only recently. The Ghazal is a string of 5-15 couplets, with each couplet being able to stand alone as a complete thought and/or poem. At the end of the second line of every couplet is a 1-3 word long refrain. The word before the refrain is a rhyme that carries through the entire poem. A rhyming scheme would look like that: AA, BA, CA, DA, and so on. The first and last couplets are special. In the first couplet, called matla, t
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Terza Rima
The terza rima is a traditional poetic form whose most renowned offspring is Dante's 'The Divine Comedy' (ca. 1300). Obviously it wasn't first written in English, but it works just as well and is very pleasant in my opinion, especially when it's read aloud/performed. The form is best written in iambic pentameter: The sheep was killed by wings of fire and ice; (the SHEEP | was KILLED | by WINGS | of FIRE | and ICE) And yes, I know that example is horrible, but it gets the point across The rhyming scheme is as follows: a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-e Here is an example from Shelley's 'Ode to the West Wind': O wild West Wing, thou breat
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The Rictameter
A rictameter is an interesting, and visually beautiful type of poem. When centered, it looks much like a diamond. It is similar in idea to a haiku as far as the spirit of the poem, but seems to be an evolution of a cinquain. To form a rictameter, you start with a line of two syllables, then consecutively increase each syllable number in the next lines by two, until you reach ten syllables in the fifth line. Then, you start decreasing by two syllables, until you reach the same two syllable line you started with. The syllables would look something like this per line: 2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2. If you wish to experiment with a rictameter, there are
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The Tetractys
The tetractys, made famous by Pythagoras, has become a modern poetry form. Ten was thought to be a number of power, and by having the lines leading up to the last line equal ten, it seemed logical for the creator of the tetractys poetry form to name it such. A tetractys has in total, five lines. The syllables are as follows: First Line - 1 syllable Second Line - 2 syllables Third Line - 3 syllables Fourth Line - 4  syllables Fifth Line - 10 syllables In any formatting, it gives a triangle shape. It can be reversed, starting with the ten lines, and moving downwards for a "reversed tetractys." There are also what is called "double tetrac
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The Cinquain
****Cinquains**** Before Adelaide Crapsy developed her version, a cinquain had the same definition as quintain. These are both poems of five lines with varying rhyme, though most often forming the familiar 'abab' layout. Ms. Crapsy's version of a cinquain is somewhat different. While she was American, Japanese poetry was an obvious influence. The style still contains five lines, but the syllables of each are strictly measured. The first and fifth contain two syllables apiece. Line two has four syllables, line three is allottted six, and the fourth line contains eight. This gives you a grand total of twenty-two syllables in which to express
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The Acrostic
An acrostic poem is created by arranging the first letter of each line so that they flow in alphabetical order, or form a word or phrase. Rhyme and meter aren't issues in this style of poetry, which causes some to consider it not poetry at all. Also, the only set length is that of what you choose to represent with the first letters. However, it's been around for thousands of years. This style was common among the Greeks and derived from the Greek words akros, "at the end," and stichos, "line". It was used by Latin playwrights and Medieval monks; it was popular in the Middle High German and Italian renaissance periods. If it please ya, learn m
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The Glosa
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. Example Irish Pride and Pre
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Palindromes
Sotades invented palindromes in Greek-ruled Egypt, back in the 3rd century BC. In fact, palindromes were once known as "Sotadic verses." He was thrown into the sea (wrapped in lead) by King Ptolemy II, for insulting the king in one of his verses. They were quite popular in the 1800's, but have not shared much popularity since around the 1930's. Palindrome comes from the Greek words "palin" (again or back) and "dramein" (to run). So if you read that backwards, it translates loosely into "to run back." The palindrome simply reads the same forwards and backwards, usually with a central focal point from where it begins to read backwards. There
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Sapphic Verse
Sapphic Verse Made famous by the greek poetess Sappho of Lesbos, c 600 BC - the Sapphic stanza is a metric poetic form spanning 4 lines. The form has 3 hendecasyllabic lines - Each consisting of the following metric feet: trochee, trochee, dactyl, trochee, trochee The fourth, concluding line has a Dactyl followed by a Trochee - this last line is known as the Adonic or Adonean line. A brief note on the metric feet used in Sapphic Verse - A Trochee is a two syllable foot, which follows a 'DAH-dah' rhythm e.g 'TRO-chee' A Dactyl is a three syllable foot, which follows a 'DAH-dah-dah' rhythm e.g 'DAC-tyll-ic' An example: 'Sapphics' by A
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The Conachlonn
The conachlann is a simple bardic form of chain verse. The last word of one line, starts as the first word of the next line. You have a bit of slight leeway, as you will see in the examples. This is a medieval Irish poetic form. Amergin's invocation of Ireland is a very famous conachlann. Ailim iath n-erend Ermac muir motach Motach sliab sreatach Sreatach coill ciotach Ciotach ab eascach Easach loc lindmar Lindmar tor tiopra Tiopra tuath aenach Aenach righ teamra Teamair tor tuatach Tuata mac milead Mile long libearn Libearn ard Ere Ere ard diclass Eber dond digbas Diceadal ro gaet Ro gaet ban breissi Breis
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Bref Double
The Bref Double The bref double is a French form. It is similar to the sonnet, but it need not be written in iambic pentameter (it can be in tetrameter, hexameter, or any other meter you prefer). The rhyme scheme is also different from a sonnet. The bref double contains three quatrains (four-line stanzas) followed by a final couplet. a/x/b/c x/a/x/c a/x/a/b a/b The x standing for a line that doesn't rhyme with any of the other lines. An example: Road Closed... With crystal rain, the sky is filled with diamond flakes that swirl and dance to tunes that they alone may know, unheeded by the ears of man. The northern winds play havoc
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Rannaicheacht Ghairid
Irish Poetry -- Background and Information The bard's spoken language lent itself to the natural rhythm and rhyme, and  alliteration, consonance and repetition were very important to the Irish poet.  Until the 5th Century, the only written form of Irish was Ogham, used only for carving into trees and gravestones. Therefore, poetry was oral, and based on sound structures so they would be easy to remember. When crafting medieval Irish poetry, remember that it is cyclical and the last line should end with the first syllable word or the complete line or thought, bringing it around again to the beginning. Praise poetry was commonly practiced by
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Rondel, Rondel Prime
* A note: In my studies of these forms (Rondeau, Rondel, Rondelet, Roundel, Rondine, etc) it becomes increasingly clear that there is little accurate information. To the best of my knowledge, this is accurate although I had to wade through acres of mislabeled works and forms to accumulate this much. Keep in mind that most definitions of these forms are rather broad and ambiguous due to the fact most people think the forms are all interchangeable or there is only one or two forms for all these different names. The truth, as I have discovered it, is rather drastically different. Rondel:          The Rondel is a French style of lyrical poetry
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