Kouta

The following description and example are reposted with permission from Poetry Magnum Opus, with thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on that fine resource.

The Kouta 小唄 (little or short song) is a popular Japanese verse form of the Muromachi Period, 14th thru 16th century.  The lyrical song was resurrected as a Geisha song in the late 1800s and is still popular today. The form has several variations, though always short in only 4 lines a 5th line is sometimes is added.  The theme reflects ordinary life and often uses colloquialisms and onomatopoeia.  The most popular are love songs.  The elements of Kouta are:

  1. a poem in 4 lines. (an occasional 5th line may appear)
  2. a stand alone poem but often is accompanied by other Koutas with the same theme.
  3. syllabic, variable odd numbered syllable lengths, the most common patterns are written in lines of alternating 7-5-7-5 syllables or 7-7-7-5 syllables.
  4. secular, personal, themes of ordinary life
  5. often includes onomatopoeia.

Three small sisters dressed alike
in pink polka dots on white.
Ribbons tie blonde pony tails,
“Smile girls, be polite.”
                                –jvg

My Example

Form: Kouta

[Untitled]

three old men sitting at the bar
grumbling ’bout the things that are
the good thing is they can’t go far
momma has the car

© Lawrencealot – February 13, 2015

Dodoitsu

Dodoistu is a Japanese form of poetry that is sometimes performed as a folk song. The Dodoitsu comes from the old agricultural roots of the Gombei, the people of Japan’s back-country. The majority of Dodoistu poetry was handed down through oral tradition and was performed to the accompaniment of shamisen, a three- stringed instrument.
A lot of Dodoistu poetry focuses on love, humor or the unexpected, though there are many Dodoistu poems that also look at nature and beauty.
It has 26 syllables: 7 in the first, second and third lines, and 5 in the last line. (7/7/7/5).
Example Poem
‘Tis Better…   (A Dodoistu)
All triumphs end differently,
some with flourish and refrains,
some with frequent curtain calls,
others fade to black.
© Lawrencealot – Oct. 19, 2012
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