Ch’I Yen Shih

Ch’i-Yen-Shih metre

This is, believe it or not, a Chinese verse form. Whether it’s worth doing in English is debatable. Stanzas have four lines of seven syllables each, with lines 2 and 4 rhyming. Each line has a caesura, or break, after the fourth syllable; I have laid the example out to emphasise this. That’s all there is to it, really, except that, to make it sound a little more Chinese, only words of one syllable should be used. 
Long straight black road
far from home.
The moon hangs snagged
in the trees.
Foot down, I speed
through the night.
Rain falls in sheets,
starts to freeze.
The cats eyes pulse
like Morse code.
Far sparks speed close,
blaze then fade.
For hours on end
there’s no change:
Road, light, rain, wind,
screen and blade.
I’m tired and cold,
on my own.
How much of this
can I take?
I grit my teeth,
try to guess
How long I’ll last
till I brake.
Thanks to Bob Newman for his wonderful Volecentral resource site
Ancient Verse is probably the same verse form as Ch’I Yen Shih from the Lu Shi code verse. Ancient Verse is found desribed in John Drury’s poe-try-dic-tion-ar-y and is similar to Ch’I Yen Shi, with slight variation. As described by Drury, caesura was not specified and more latitude was given in the character count. This is probably an example of how form evolves or is corrupted by translation. For now I will treat this verse form as separate.
(Drury uses “syllable count”) Technically in Chinese prosody, character count and syllable count are one in the same since Chinese characters are one word and Chinese words are usually one syllable. However in English translation, a character could represent a 2 or 3 syllable English word. I use “character” in most of my metric descriptions of Chinese verse and often count words rather than syllables when attempting to write poems using Chinese verse forms in English. However, since Drury’s book describes the meter for this form as syllabic, I follow his lead.
Ancient Verse is:
  • stanzaic, written in quatrains.
  • syllabic, 5 to 7 syllable lines. isosyllabic (7/7/7/7) or (5/5/5/5)
  • rhymed, rhyme scheme either xaxa xaxa etc or xaxa xbxb etc. ( xaxaxaxa etc or xaxaxbxb)
  • no fixed tone pattern.
  • always composed with parallels and balance.
    pyramid by Judi Van Gorder

  • fresh dug dirt makes space and waits
  • rich earth forms a pyramid
    to welcome polished pine box
    with white roses on the lid
Thanks to Judi Van Gorder for her wonderful PMO resource site.
My example poem
Surveillance       (Ch’I Yen Shih)

My house has eyes in the dark
Big dogs see but first they smell.
I don’t switch them – off or on
still they serve as my door bell.

© Lawrencealot – April 9, 2014

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Didactic cinquain

A Didactic cinquain is sometimes used by school teachers to teach grammar, is as follows:
Line 1: Noun
Line 2: Description of Noun
Line 3: Action
Line 4: Feeling or Effect
Line 5: Synonym of the initial noun

An alternate version of the cinquain poem, often called a “word cinquain” is based on words, instead of syllables. “Word cinquains” have the following pattern:

Line 1 1 word
Line 2 2 words
Line 3 3 words
Line 4 4 words
Line 5 1 word
Line 1 — a noun (a word that refers to a thing, such as apple or book or elephant).
Line 2 — two adjectives, or describing words, that tell the reader about that thing.
Line 3 — three words ending in -ing that are related to the thing, maybe saying what it does.
Line 4 — a four-word phrase (group of words) about the thing, or about the way it makes you feel.
Line 5 — another noun that is a synonym of (means the same as) the noun in line 1, or else is a different way of looking at that thing.
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My Example
Butch      (Didactic Cinquain)

solid, sturdy
snorting, panting, watching
always ready to be faithful

© Lawrencealot – February 16, 2014

Ballade Stanza

A Ballade Stanza or Monk’s Tale Stanza (So named because it was used in  the Monk’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales (1386–1400) by Geoffrey Chaucer )
Is an ten syllable isosyllabic octave, usually written in conjunction with other stanzas (formally five stressed syllables)
Rhyme Scheme: ababbcbc

Example Poem

Reprieve      (Ballade Stanza)

My puppy wasn’t there when I got home
which was unusual in every way.
He’d always wait to play; he’d never roam.
“Honey- my grandma had sad things to say,
“Hit chasing car… then they took him away.”
I’d never cried the way I cried that night.
Surprise! His leg was in a cast next day;
the driver smiled and made my life alright.

© Lawrencealot – January 16, 2014


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This form was created by Emily Romano.
It is stanzaic: consisting of 9 lines in three tercets.
It is syllabic   2/4/2/2/4/2/2/4/2
It is rhymed   ab cdcefe
The Title should reflect the poem’s content.
My source is:
The Musette, created by Emily Romano is a poem that consists of three verses of three lines each. The first lines have two syllables; the second lines have four syllables, and the third lines have two syllables. The rhyme scheme is a/b/a for the first verse; c/d/c for the second verse, and e/f/e for the third verse. The title should reflect the poem’s content.
Example #1:
Small But Refined
Good news –
A visit from
The Muse!A glimpse,
Nothing prolonged,
Then gone!

Wee verse –
Thanks to the Muse,
It’s terse!
Copyright © 2007 Emily Romano
Thanks to Shadowpoetry
My example poem:
My Doorbell Barks (Musette)

Now hark!
The doorbell rings,
they bark.

the bell the dogs
still shout.

Oh hell,
Why’d I install
the bell?

© Lawrencealot – December 7, 2013


The rondeau is a syllabic French construct of three verses: a quintet, quatrain, and sestet. The lines are in two lengths, the main length and the refrain. The refrain is the first few words of the first line.

1. The form is created from three stanzas. A quintet, a quatrain and a sestet.

2. The first half of the first line in the quintet forms a refrain line. This refrain is used for lines 9 and 15.
3. The quintet has a rhyme scheme of b-b-c-c-b.
4. The quatrain has a rhyme scheme of b-b-c-A, where A is the refrain drawn from the first half of the first line of the poem.
5. The sestet is rhymed b-b-c-c-b-A, where A is again the refrain line.

6. Being a French form the meter is accentual syllabic. 

The refrain line is usually 4 syllables or two verse feet.

Many Thanks to Ben Johnson, a most useful resource. I have used his clear  version of specifications above.

While I have used iambic pentameter below, perhaps the most well know Roundeau In Flanders Field by John McCrea is written in Iambic tetrameter.

Example Poem

I Need a Boy 

I need a boy, to hold and play with me.
Can I be yours?  I have no family.
I’ll come to you and love you ev’ry day .
I’ll mind you well and do just what you say.
Just hold and hug  and take good care of me.

I’ll learn so quickly.  Teach me where to pee.
I’ll let you teach me tricks, – just wait you’ll see.
I’ll mend your heart, and take your grief away.
I need a boy.

They came together hearing silent plea.
The years went by, and all folks would agree
Their  special love was  heaven sent  that day.
T he boy was glad he heard  that puppy say
Without the need for words, a simple plea –
I need a boy.

(C) Lawrencealot April 1, 2012

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Empat Empat

Empat Empat form poetry
Early form of rhyming verse from Malaysia.
Four Four line stanza
Stair case refrain of line 1
Meter:  8 or 10 syllable per line – though I have see it with but 4
Rhyme Scheme   Abab cAca adAd eaeA
Example Poem
Sentry Pup       (Empat Empat)

While set on pause I’m actively alert.

My ears are peaked and will not miss a sound.
I’ll rest my head on any shoe or shirt
or artifact of master’s that I’ve found.
Though not so big, or armed with mighty jaws,
while set on pause I’m actively alert.
I hear the flapping crows and hear their caws
and I ignore the sounds that cannot hurt.
I’ll sense intruders, stealthy and covert
I am a biological alarm.
While set on pause I’m actively alert.
Protecting all from things that may cause harm.
When not on paws’ I’m set with throttle full
to romp with my boy through the grass and dirt,
to chase a ball of find some thing to pull.
While set on pause I’m actively alert.
  © Lawrencealot – March 10, 2013
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HAIKU is both singular and plural.

A Japanese form designed to be small and concise by limiting the number of lines and the number of syllables in a line. Japanese haiku are three-line poems with the first and the third line having five syllables and the middle having seven syllables. English-language Haiku may be shorter than seventeen syllables, though some poets prefer to keep to the 5-7-5 format.

A true is much more than a poem is 5-7-5 format.

• Use concise, simple and clear language
• Write in two sections, using a fragment and a phrase
• Use sense images, in particular what you see or hear
• Write in the present tense
• Compare or contrast two different images as juxtapositions
• Try to include a seasonal reference
• Write in 17 syllables or less, preferably between 8-12
• Use minimal (if any) punctuation
• Try to make your haiku open-ended and evocative
• Try not make judgments or express your opinions
• Limit your use of adjectives and try not to use adverbs
• Do not use rhyme, simile, metaphor or personification
• There is no need for capital letters, except for proper nouns

And there are many Haiku knock-offs:

Example Poems

voluptuous wife approaches –
low-cut gown
perfume excites

dog on lap
puppy barks –
two dogs on lap

(c) Lawrencealot –


Rictameter is a scheme similar to Cinquain.
Starting your first line with a two syllable word, you then consecutively increase the number of syllables per line by two. i.e. 2/4/6/8/10   Then down again, 8/6/4/2 Making the final line the same two syllable word you began with.
This form looks best when centered
Example Poem
The puppy lived
because I rescued him.
Just a boy myself, no one close.
Nursed him to health; trained him easily too
and my grandma watched us blossom.
He played with me, slept with
me, became my

Sonnetina Tre

1. The form is created from three stanzas.
 These consist of two quatrains and one couplet.
2. The normal structure has the two quatrains first followed by
a concluding couplet. 
Variations on this include the mini-Dorn (see Dorn sonnet)
structure which has the  couplet in the middle, 
it is also possible to begin with the couplet.
3. There is no set meter or rhyme scheme, 
though iambic pentameter or tetrameter is quite usual.
Rhyme Scheme: abab ccde deor abba dd deed
Example Poem

Girswold Fuzzy Longbottom  (Sonnetina tre)

I’ve never owned a Yorkie pup you see,
That breed has always been the owner here.
Though Griz is second such to live with me,
He makes it clear to other pets that dear
grandpa is his toy.  When I am not home
my wife can have his love.  He’ll sit or lay
most quietly with her; submit to comb
and bath.  When I’m around he wants to play.
He never comes to me without his ball
for that’s his favorite dog game of all.

(c) Lawrencealot

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Triquain…created by Shelley Cephas,
A Triquain is a seven line poem with syllables in multiples of 3 as follows:
3, 6, 9, 12, 9, 6, 3 This form is always centered.
syllabic,3/6/9/12/9/6/3,unrhymed,7 lines
ALWAYS Centered
Example Poem:

Interim Heaven  (Triquain chain – Cephas) 

The puppy
brought to the hospital
where the boy was dying adopted
him on first sight.  The lad’s pain was subdued by drugs.
Nothing could subdue the instant joy
filling him as he hugged
The puppy.
The cancer
would not relent, and yet
the boy’s eyes were brighter than before
and he never cried another day.  The puppy
snuggled when he slept and licked his face;
played gently other times
with the boy.
When the boy
passed on while he slept, the
puppy knew and whined, parents wept.  In
tears a younger brother took the pup, who shut up
and licked away that boy’s tears.  Wiping
grief away, replacing
it with love.
(c) Lawrencealot – May 7,2012
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As it happened, the Triquain above was the first one that I encountered.
It was not however, the first form given the name.

• The Triquain, found in Berg’s Pathways for the Poet 1977 appears to be an attempt at combining the haiku and Crapsey cinquain. It was created by L. Stanley Cheney and referred to in both the Caulkins’ Handbook and Pathways. This form comes a little closer to the purpose of haiku than some other haiku wannabees. There is another invented form also called a Triquain that appeared on the internet about 25 years later written in a syllabic heptastich.

The Triquain is:
○ a tristich, a poem in 3 lines. It is composed in 3 units, L1 introduces the subject, L2 expands and leads into action, L3 is the enlightenment or question.
○ syllabic, with 2-7-7 syllable count per line.
○ Titled, unlike the haiku.

stud by Judi Van Gorder

leggy colt struggles to stand
first of many challenges

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My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My example

Inquiry (Triquan-Cheney)

preceding words, as babble
most unanswered before death

(c) Lawrencealot – October 29, 2014