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

Rubai – Rubaiyat – Interlocking Rubaiyat

Rubāʿī” (رباعي) is a poetry style, the Arabic term for “quatrain“. It is used to describe a Persian quatrain, or its derivative form in English and other languages. The plural form of the word, rubāʿiyāt (رباعیات ), often anglicised rubaiyat, is used to describe a collection of such quatrains.[1]
There are a number of possible rhyme schemes to the rubaiyat form, e.g. AABA, AAAA.[2] In Persian verse, a ruba’i visually contains only four lines, its rhyme falling at the middle and end of the lines.
The verse form AABA as used in English verse is known as the Rubaiyat Quatrain due to its use by Edward FitzGerald in his famous 1859 translation, The Rubaiyat of Omar KhayyamAlgernon Charles Swinburne, one of the first admirers of FitzGerald’s translation of Khayyam’smedieval Persian verses, was the first to imitate the stanza form, which subsequently became popular and was used widely, as in the case of Robert Frost’s 1922 poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening“.
A single quatrain is a Rubai, several together are a Rubaiyat, linked by the stanza’s un-rhyming line they become an Interlocking Rubaiyat
Interlocking Rubaiyat
Structure, Metrical Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Stanzaic
A rubaiyat with interlocking rhyme. Quatrains composed of decasyllabic lines with rhyme scheme aaba bbcb ccdc … zzaz.
Attributed to:
Ghiyath al-Din Abu’l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami
A three stanza interlocking rubaiyat would be:


My thanks to Ron Newman at Volecentral for this information, his site is a wonderful resource.
Example Poem
Free Agent  (Rubaiyat)
Testosterone Tom was a monstrous man
raised in the arctic where caribou ran.
When he ate there weren’t left-overs;  Tom had
never heard of baseball, bagels, or flan.
Like a fish to an aquarium  sent,
or a monkey to a zoo, our Tom spent
his first weeks in Maine looking for control.
Slowly festering smarts would now augment.
Tom learned of the NFL, why quibble.
For this quest he had no need to dribble.
For his size there was no counter-balance,
We’ll not divulge teams taking a nibble.
     © Lawrencealot – December 29, 2012
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