The following description is reposted with permission from The Poets Garret, with thanks to Ryter Roethicle and Kathy Anderson.


Mathnawi or Masnavi is normally poetry written in rhyming couplets. It is believed it emerged from an Iranian form around the 4th – 10th century, and the name is Persian and is not Arabic as some claim. The subject is usually heroic, romantic, or religious. Some Persian Mathnawi are especially significant in Sufism, Rumi’s Mathnawi-i-Ma’nawi is an outstanding example.

Most Persian Mathnawi are normally eleven (11) syllables, occasionally ten (10). There is no limit to the number of couplets. It has a rhyme scheme a. a.. b. b.. c. c. etc as shown in the following example:


Each and every plant that pushes forth new leaves
Is well aware of the life that it conceives

Richly blossoming forth its symbolic scenes
That helps to procreate and pass on its genes

So reliant on symbiosis for the key
It needs the help of creatures like worker bees

And all the other creatures that pass on seed
Those creatures fertilize each plant and weed

And as the seasons each year wax and wane
With time we see one year’s loss is another’s gain

We discover that Nature balances out with time
Making certain that nothing can e’re out-climb

All things are equal with Nature we must learn
And a balanced life must be our main concern.

Ryter Roethicle

Persian poetry also influenced other nations and whilst Turkish poetry also developed it was slightly later and influenced by Persian poetry and was popular in Turkey until the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Early Urdu Mathnawi was at first religious in nature, but because of Persian influence included romance, and adventure and even secular stories.

Arabic Mathnawi (Also called Muzdawidj) has one major difference in that it is presented as a triplet; a. a. a. / b. b. b. / c. c. c.. pattern, rather than a couplet shown previously.


It went to my head what you said yesterday
And again the thoughts burn yet become doubts play
For whenever hearts are involved I must pray.

How goes these whispers into the heavenlies
To evoke imaginative displays, please
Me as much as the cello with bow glories.

Charms take me away as do the words we speak,
When there are clouds in our eyes they tend to leak
For far gone days and flung desires bespeak.

Kathy Anderson



My Examples

Form: Mathnawi

Enough With the Snow (Persian)

‘Twas frigid, icy, wet and damnably cold
and by now, I’ll bet you know, it’s getting old.
One dismal tidbit hidden in winter facts
is the rise in shovel sponsored heart-attacks.

© Lawrencealot – February 21, 2015

OK, Let it Snow (Arabic)

I refuse to be among the number dead.
I’ll hire teenage boys to do the work instead
‘cus I’m a codger who’s learned to use my head.

© Lawrencealot – February 21, 2015

Tho Bon Chu

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.

Tho Bon Chu or Four Word Verse is written as its name implies, measuring the number of words per line rather than syllables. The elements of the Tho Bon Chu are:

  1. stanzaic, written in a series of couplets.
  2. measured by the number of words in the line, each line has 4 words.
  3. rhymed, tonal rhyme in 1 of 2 distinct patterns and often end-rhymed at the poet’s discretion. w=word Language specific.
    When end-rhymed.           
    w ♭w a#
    w # w a
    w # w a
    When not end-rhymed
    w ♭w #
    w ♭w a#
    w # w ♭
    w # w ♭
    w ♭w #

My Example

Form: Tho Bon Chu

Since I have no notion about the Vietnamese tonal qualities for words, I have anglicized the rules to interpret Sharp tones as end-stressed words and Flat tones, as not.


Sounds normal to shout
with children at home.
To shout in office
is not my suggestion.

© Lawrencealot – February 11, 2015

William Kenneth Keller, writing on Allpoetry as Shades of Bill added this comment and poem which do much to explain the concept which I merely relegated to stress. I am including his work as it really helps things make a little more sense.

The idea of tonality in poetry intrigues me! So here is my humble take on this. In English a word’s pitch comes two ways: stress, (rise and fall) and the tonality assigned to vowel sounds. (long or short)

Here is how I would assess your first line:
‘ow’ in ‘sounds’ would define the baseline for line. (This brings up an interesting point: you can have a baseline that changes line to line, or an overall baseline carried throughout the poem; the latter obviously far more difficult than the former.)
‘or’ in ‘normal’ should be flatter than baseline. (It is: the voice drops slightly.)
‘ooh’ in ‘to’ should sound at same pitch as baseline’. (It seems close enough.)
‘ow’ in ‘shout’ should be sharper than baseline. (It is identical. As an example, the ‘ee’ in ‘sleep’ is pitched slightly higher than the ‘ow’ in ‘sounds when voiced.)

So I took a light-hearted stab at it:

She walks too stiff
Like an old lady
Talks like a sailor
Too long at sea
Looks like an angel
And so I stay

Might not be suitable as an example, but it does seem to have that necessary rise and fall to it. I may try to give it another go, but regardless, the idea of pitch and tonality is going in my Batman Utility Belt!

Bill Keller


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

The Troisieme is a verse form introduced by Viola Berg. The content is broken into 4 parts, an introduction in the 1st tercet, an expansion in the 2nd tercet, a parallel or contrast in the 3rd tercet and a summary or conclusion in the couplet.The structural elements of the Troisieme are:

  1. stanzaic, written in 3 tercets followed by a couplet.
  2. syllabic, 3-5-7 3-5-7 3-5-7 9-9  syllables each.   
  3. unrhymed.

    It’s Finally Here

    have turned the corner,
    the Christmas season begins.

    boxed with care last year,
    unpacked and hung on the tree.

    Twinkling lights,
    and red bows adorn
    garland strung around the room.

    Candy canes and shaped sugar cookies
    fresh from the oven for you and me.
                                         ~~Judi Van Gorder

My Example

Form: Troisieme

Promised Ascension

Man alone will plot against his kind
because of words one man deemed were true.
They promote a life beyond this realm.

Dismiss all logic! Faith overcomes!
The next life counts promises much more.
Believe those words and your pain dissolves.

That others think those words are fiction
marks them somehow as threats deserving
Your enmity lest you come to doubt.

The plots and counter-plots marred reality
and placed our morality below the wolf.

© Lawrencealot – February 5, 2015


The Doublet is a little known form created by Adelaide Crapsey, (1878-1914) who is better known for her innovative”Crapsey” Cinquain. Ms. Crapsey’s grounding in English metric verse combined with her studies of Asian poetry helps to make her “small poem” frames fit the English language a little better than the syllabic parameters of Asian forms. The doublet is a 2 line poem but it incorporates the title into the poem, in effect creating a 3 line verse. Some compare it to the haiku.

The Doublet is:
• is a distich with an integrated title which in effect creates a 3 line poem.
• syllabic, each line 10 syllables or less.
• rhymed, aa. The title is not rhymed.

On Seeing Weather-Beaten Trees by Adelaide Crapsey 
Is it as plainly in our living shown,
By slant and twist, which way the wind hath blown?

When Starting a New Diet by Judi Van Gorder 
Gather the tools to guide your way,
resolve and commitment begin the day.

Since we already know how this will end by Zoe Fitzgerald 
I find it fully pointless to pursue 
A reconciled relationship with you.

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

My Example

So Let’s Work at This Love We’ve Found

By accident do most men steer
and stumble into love that’s dear.

© Lawrencealot – December 7, 2014

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Couplet: Closed, Complete, Heroic

  • A Closed Couplet is any complete couplet in which meter and syntax are sealed at the end. The frame is end-stopped. When the lines are written in iambic pentameter and linked by rhyme it is also a heroic couplet.

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,

The proper study of Mankind is Man.

 Pope‘s Essay on Man(note: this can also be an example of a complete couplet and a heroic couplet.

  • The Complete Couplet is a poetic unit of 2 lines that expresses a complete thought within itself. Meter and rhyme are at the poet’s discretion.

What is an epigram: a dwarfish whole,

Its body brevity, and wit it soul.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834 (note: Because the meter and syntax are end-stopped this is also a closed couplet. Because this example is written in iambic pentameter and linked with rhyme the couplet is also a heroic couplet.)

  • The Heroic couplet is a complete poetic thought unit of 2 iambic pentameter lines linked by rhyme. It is also a complete couplet and a closed couplet but it is the meter and linking rhyme that sets it apart as a “heroic couplet”. (note: a complete couplet and a closed couplet are only heroic couplets when they are written in iambic pentameter and linked by rhyme.) Shakespeare popularized the declamatory heroic couplet.

“But if thou live remembered not to be,

Die single and thine image dies with thee.”

 William Shakespeare, Sonnet 2

Pasted from <

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


Schuttelreim is a German poetic device synonymous with the word play technique of Spoonerisms, named for English educator W.A. Spooner 1844-1930, which is the swapping of the beginning sounds of 2 different words such as big rats/rig bats. The Shuttlereim takes spoonerism a step further and in a rhymed couplet, the initial consonant of the last 2 words of the first line are reversed in the second line. The device is most often used in light verse.

The Schuttelreim is:
• a single rhyming couplet.
• rhymed, switching the initial consonants of the last 2 words in the first line with the initial consonants of the last 2 words in the second line.

Springtime’s triad — thrush, lake, dove,
tell the sunlight their dark love.
— Robin Skelton (from Shapes of our Singing)

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

German and Austrian Poetic Forms:

Bar Form, Dinggedicht, Goliardic VerseKnittelvers, Minnesang, Nibelungen, Schuttelreim

My example

Believe in truest loving trust
Beware the ever thrusting lust.

© Lawrencealot – October 26, 2014

Split Couplet

Split Couplet
Type:  Structure, Metrical Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Stanzaic
Description:  Rhymed two line form with the first line in iambic pentameter and the second in iambic dimeter. One variation has it with iambic monometer and iambic trimeter. We’re sure that just about any rhymed couplets of consistently unequal lines will fall into this category.
Rhyme: aa bb cc, etc.

xX xX xX xX xX
xX xX


xX xX xX
Rhythm/Stanza Length:

Pasted from
My thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his years of work on the wonderful Poetrybase resource.

My example

Babble (Split Couplet)

It’s nice
if one can be concise.
is less than grandiose.

© Lawrencealot – October 10, 2014


The Côte is an invented form that is constructed of uneven couplets.
It is attributed to Johnn Schroeder and found at Poetry Base. Why it carries the name Côte, which is French for coast, I have yet to figure out. 
The Côte is:
stanzaic, it may be written in any number of couplets.
structured as an uneven couplet, L1 being a single imperative verb, L2 is a glossing or expansion of L1.
written with meter and rhyme at the discretion of the poet.

The Sea Dreamer by Judi Van Gorder

exploring the seascape of the mind.
tapping first the soul and then the skill.
into the horizon of possibilities.


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


Structure, Other Requirement
Description: This is a poem in unequal couplets. The first line is one verb in the imperative mood followed by a comma. The second line expands on the why or is a gerund phrase expanding on how.
Attributed to: Johnn Schroeder
Origin: American
Rhythm/Stanza Length: 2

Pasted from

My thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his years of work on the wonderful Poetrybase resource.


My Example


Mix and blend, enjoy the place
Chance upon receptive face
Conjoin for better life for two
When there’s but one of you.

© Lawrencealot – October 10, 2014



Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg (1977) is a book for and by educators. Classic poetic forms as well as many invented forms which appear to have been invented as teaching tools or exercizes for use in workshops or classrooms are included. Some of these invented forms I have found in use in internet poetry communities, a testament to their staying power. On this page I include the metric invented forms found there in which appear to be exclusive to the community of educators from whom Ms. Berg drew her support. I have yet to find these in any other source. …. Whether classroom exercise or sharpening your skill as a writer, some of these forms can be fun to play with.

• Seafonn (Anglo Saxon for seven) is a verse form named for its total number of lines, introduced by Elizabeth Maxwell Phelps.An argument is presented in the first 5 lines and the counter point in the ending couplet. A lot to jam into such a short frame.

The Seafonn is:
○ a heptastich made up of quintain followed by a couplet.
○ metric, iambic tetrameter, with L2 and L5 catalectic.
○ rhymed, abccb aa.
Pasted from
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My example
Black Holes Debunked in 2014 (Seafonn)
Now, Laura Mercini-Houghton has shown
with undisputable Mathematics
that black holes are but fables, make-believe.
When stars collapse (some do, so do not grieve)
they emit what we hear as statics.
The therefore lose some mass. The theory’s blown.
No black hole singularity is grown.
© Lawrencealot – September 25, 2014

Bref Double

Bref Double
Structure, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Isosyllabic
A fourteen-line French form. Like many French forms, the rules are a bit complex. It is composed of 3 quatrains and a couplet, all isosyllabic. It has three rhymes: a, b, and c. It has five lines that are not part of the rhyme scheme. The c rhyme ends each quatrain. The a and b rhymes are found twice each somewhere within the three quatrains and once in the couplet.
Have fun; it’s French.
Some sample rhyme schemes would be:
abxc abxc xxxc ab,
xaxc xbxc xbac ba,
xabc xaxc xbxc ab,
(abxcabxcxxxcab, xaxcxbxcxbacba, xabcxaxcxbxcab) )(14 lines)
Rhythm/Stanza Length:
Line/Poem Length:
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My thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his fine Poetrybase resource.
My example poem
A Merchant Mariner     (Bref Double)
A soliloquy mumbled while aboard a ship
addressed issues encountered by conscripted men:
the comforts found in surroundings I’d known, no thoughts
of danger real or imagined- not everyday.
With thoughts of carnality, adventure, hardship,
rewards of sharing bounty, succeeding and then
returning home after I’ve traveled, unraveled
the wonderful mystr’ies that might hold me in sway.
The captain, querulous, demands most constant yield
from every man. The old first  mate so hates the king
he wrings more than mere duty from men on his watch.
The nation we’re helping will repay us some day.
I came home a hero. It was quite a long trip.
But now that those days are passed, I’d do it again.
© Lawrencealot – April 18, 2014
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