How to Write a Quatrain Poem

A quatrain is stanza (verse) with four lines and a rhyming scheme. However, there are many variations of rhyming scheme so many people like to write quatrain poems because there is lots of scope to express all your ideas. While a quatrain is only one verse, a quatrain poem can have any number of quatrains in it.


1. Read examples of quatrains

* A summer day, a winter night,

Fluffy Clouds, stars shine bright,

Appreciate all, here on earth,

Mother Nature, what is she worth?
* Oh the birds are singing,

In a nest of broken sticks,

Look what they are bringing,

It’s nutrition for their chicks.
* Shakespeare uses lots of quatrains in his poetry and plays. He mainly writes in sonnets which contain a combination of quatrains and rhyming couplets.

2. Choose a subject for your poem. More abstract topics such as nature or emotion are easiest to find rhyme for, however you can write about anything. It could even tell a story as your poem can have more than one stanza.

3. Choose a rhyme scheme. It is best to choose the rhyme scheme before you start writing however you may have to change it later if you can’t find anything to fit. Common rhyme schemes for a quatrain are: ABAB, AABB and ABBA. If you have more than one verse you could consider: AABA BBCB CCDC etc. or similar.

* An example of ABAB rhyme scheme would be:

A: Today there was some snow

B: It’s falling down a treat

A: Then the wind began to blow

B: And now it’s turned to sleet.
* Notice how all the “A” lines rhyme and all the “B” lines rhyme.
* The first example in step one is ABAB rhyme scheme. The second is AABB.

4. Start writing. Use a rhyming dictionary or thesaurus for help if you get stuck on rhymes. Remember you might not always be able to say everything how you like because you are constricted by a rhyme scheme, but you may change from the rhyme scheme you chose to begin with.

* The first line is the base of your poem because they don’t have to rhyme with anything yet. Start with this.
* Brain storm a list of words that rhyme with the last word of the line you’ve written, but try to find ones that can be related to your topic.
* The first line is always called “A” so check the rhyme scheme you’ve chosen and see where the line that rhymes with A (also called A) fits into your poem.
* Build on the words you’ve brainstormed so they become a line. For beginners, try and create lines all of similar lengths.
* After that work on the “B” rhymes – or if possible, be working on these along side the previous steps.
* Sometimes you’ll be stuck in a rut and there are no rhymes that fit. That is OK and is very likely to happen. You need to back track and change some of the other lines, this is all part of writing a poem.

5. Read your stanza aloud to check it flows naturally. At this point you may need to change the amount of syllables in each line or choose different words in order to have the best possible quatrain.

6. Check spelling and grammar.

7. Decide if you want more than one stanza and if so, repeat the previous step. Following quatrains often have the same rhyme scheme. Although this is not mandatory it will make your poem sound better generally.

Quatrain: suite101

A 4 line poem that can have two set of rhyming lines.

* If the first line rhymes with the second line, the third line may rhyme with the fourth line (AABB).
* If the first line rhymes with the third line, the second line may rhyme with the fourth line (ABAB).
* A quatrain is very useful when taught in conjunction with word families or word endings or as a way to interact with spelling words.

An example of a quatrain:
On top of a mountain there sits a green bird.
The song that it sings is the best ever heard.
When it opens its mouth all the animals cheer,
For this song is a sound that all want to hear.

Read more: http://curriculalessons.suite101.com/article.cfm/poems_for_kids#ixzz0Nq29IVFq

Quatrain: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Quatrain is a stanza of poetry consisting of four lines. Existing in various forms, the quatrain appears in poems from ancient civilizations including Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome continues into the 21st century where it is seen in works published in several languages.


The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
  • The Shichigon-zekku form used in Chinese and Japanese poetry. Both rhyme and rhythm are key elements, although the former is not restricted to falling at the end of the phrase.
  • Ballad meter (The examples from “The Unquiet Grave” and “The Wife of Usher’s Well” are both examples of ballad meter.)
  • Decasyllabic quatrain used by John Dryden in Annus Mirabilis, William Davenant in Gondibert, and Thomas Gray
  • Various hymns employ specific forms, such as the common meter, long meter, and short meter.
  • The thirty syllable, Celtic verse form Englyn from the Welsh language is another interesting variation of the quatrain, and is also now popular in the English language.

External links

Quatrain: www.uni.edu

Quatrains are four line stanzas of any kind, rhymed, metered, or otherwise. Like the couplet, there are many variations of the quatrain. Some of the more popular as passed through tradition are:

* Alternating Quatrain- a four line stanza rhyming “abab.” From W.H. Auden’s “Leap Before You Look”

The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

* Envelope Stanza- a quatrain with the rhyme scheme “abba”, such that lines 2 and 3 are enclosed between the rhymes of lines 1 and 4. Two of these stanzas make up the Italian Octave used in the Italian sonnet. This is from Auden’s “Look Before You Leap”

The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Produce a few smart wisecracks every year;
Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

* In Memoriam Stanza- this form was used by Tennyson in his poem “In Memoriam” and is an envelope stanza written in iambic tetrameter (four feet). From “In Memoriam”

O thou, new-year, delaying long,
Delayest the sorrow in my blood,
That longs to burst a frozen bud
And flood a fresher throat with song

* Redondilla- this is a Spanish form written in tetrameter with any of three rhyme schemes: “abba”, “abab” or “aabb”.

* Italian Quatrain- this is an envelope stanza written in iambic pentameter. Doubled (eight lines), it becomes an Italian Octave and the first half of the Italian Sonnet.

* Sicilian Quatrain- this is iambic pentameter that rhymes “abab”, from the English Sonnet. Like the Italian Quatrain, it is a form of the Heroic Stanza becuase it is written in iambic pentameter.

* Hymnal Stanza- this is an alternating quatrain that is written in iambics. Lines 1 and 3 are iambic tetrameter, and lines 2 and 4 are iambic trimeter. It is also a form of the Common Measure which rhymes abcb instead of abab as in the hymnal. From Robert Burns’ “A Red, Red Rose”

O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O, my luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.

The alternating meter often makes one or the other more pronounced, in a way pulling the poem along. For this reason, the hymal stanza can be a good catalyst for a narrative voiced poem.

* Pantoum- this Malayan form is a struggle for any poet. Good luck. The pantoum is made with any number of alternating quatrains with lines of any length and meter. The catch is that lines 2 and 4 of each stanza become lines 1 and 3 of the succeeding stanza. They are to be repeated in their entirety (if possible) which is what makes the pantoum such a frustration and pain. Each stanza, then, becomes interlocked with the stanza above and below it by rhyme and line, giving the poem a unique feel not unlike that of a villanelle: obsessive and tedious. And to make matters worse, the pantoum’s last stanza takes lines 1 and 3 of the first stanza and uses them as either lines 1 and 2, or 2 and 4, but in reversed order. The pattern looks like this:

Stanza 1: A1
Stanza 3: C1
Stanza 2: B1
Stanza 4: D1 or A2 Also sometimes a
A2 or A1 couplet of A2 A1.
D2 or D1
A1 or D2

And there you go, though you can use as many number of stanzas you wish, four for the above pattern was just arbitrary number. This is “The Eunuch Cat” by Lewis Turco:

She went to work until she grew too old,
Came home at night to feed the eunuch cat
That kept the mat warm and its eyeballs cold.
She walked, but ran to wrinkles, then to fat,

Came home at night to feed the eunuch cat,
Then went to bed, slept dreamlessly till eight,
And waked. She ran to wrinkles, then to fat.
She fixed her supper, snacked till it was late,

Then went to bed, slept dreamlessly till eight–
Must I go on? She’ll feed the cat no more.
She fixed her supper, snacked till it was late,
Then died at dawn, just halfway through a snore.

Must I go on?–she’ll feed the cat no more
To keep the mat warm and its eyeballs cold.
She died at dawn, just halfway through a snore;
She went to work until she grew too old.

How To Pantoum
I find the pantoum can get too repetitious for my liking, escpecially if it’s written with fairly short lines because the repeated lines cycle faster. The repeated lines should elicit a definite emotional reaction in the reader, but they are not intended to necessarily agitate. An easy way to avoid the whole agitation business is to think about the pantoum line in terms of caesura and enjambent. If a sentence ends in the middle of a line, then the natural pause and emphasis that comes at the end of the sentence can be lessened. This way the line becomes enjambed and the reader naturally follows to the next line. When lines are continually end stopped, the repetons can seem overly repeated. If you want certain lines to receive greater attention, then, perhaps end stop them. If you want the line to be read more on the casual, natural side, then use enjambent. I try to vary the enjambents in my own pantoums, as variety is an effective way of keeping the poem fresh.

It is near impossible to repeat the repetons in their entirety, and I can’t honestly say I’ve run across many that do. This is okay. Oftentimes you can rearrange a few words to put a little spice in the line, or add or subtract a word here and there. The pantoum can become acoustically overbearing, and slight varieties in line can help shrink that feeling.

Also, don’t worry too much about what word to end each line on, or what vowel sound you want to rhyme the sound on, these worries will only get in your way. Let the poem decide what word comes next and where it fits in the line. The pantoum is a demanding form, and no poet needs to add any extra vices to the structure. Have fun, it only gets easier.

— Damon McLaughlin

One response to “Quatrain

  1. There are some excellent poetry contests at FanStory.com that also have poetry contests including Quatrain.

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