Blues Stanza

The Blues was born in 19th century from the African American experience expressing “lamentation and complaint”. Originally written for music, with the 3rd and 7th notes of the scale flattened, the poem should capture the same minor tone. The Blues confronts life head on, often expressed in sarcasm, wit and humor. Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) is credited with making the Blues as much a part of American literature as it is a part of American music. It is poetry “created on the fly”, as the blues singers did, making up lyrics on the spot. . . . A statement is made, then repeated to give the poet a moment to come up with a rhyming response. There you have the blues stanza.

The Blues Stanza is:
• stanzaic, written in any number of triplets.
• accentual verse with 4 to 6 stresses a line, or whatever. The syllable count is 12 or close enough. You can see, there is lots of room to wiggle here. The meter changes to iambic pentameter when the stanza is used in the Blues Sonnet.
• structured. L1 makes a statement, L2 repeats L1 with minor variation, often a beat or two short, and L3 responds, with a “climatic parallel” to the first 2 lines. (a culminating contrast or extension of the statement) In effect you are writing a rhyming couplet posing as a triplet.
• rhymed, rhyme scheme aaa, bbb, ccc, ddd.
• adapted by some poets like Hughes to break the lines roughly in half, making a six line stanza.
• infused with a theme that comes from complaint or a lament, suffering, struggle, real life experiences. It meets life head on, no nonsense, often with sarcasm and with humor, a wisdom born from pain.
• borrowed from blues singing, making up the “lyrics on the fly”.

I’m goin’ down to de railroad, baby,
———————————-Lay ma head on de track.
I’m goin’ down to de railroad, babe,
———————————-Lay ma head on de track –
But if I see de train a-comin’,
—————————- I’m gonna jerk it back.
———————— Langston Hughes in The Big Sea 

Burn Out Blues by Judi Van Gorder

The sun on Sunday morning calls, come and play.
the morning’s sun calls, come out and play,
but first, I have a Sunday duty to pay.

But that sun sure tempts me to skip and stray,
yes I sure am tempted to skip and stray,
why am I bound to fit church in my day?

Hard part is, I believe it’s the right thing to do,
it’s hard, but believe it’s the right thing to do,
I’ve lived it, I’ve taught it and loved it too.

Still I don’t want to sit through a ritual mass,
no, don’t want to sit through a long boring mass,
would rather be sunning, bare toes in the grass>

I doddle and fiddle and arrive at mass late,
messing around, slip in the door late,
so I stand in the back and kneel on the slate.

The gospel is one that I don’t want to hear,
the news is something I don’t want to hear,
but I know the message is meant for my ear.

“Do you love me?” He asks, “then tend my flock”,
He asks it twice more, “then tend my flock”,
I’ve done that for years, Lord, we need to talk.

I’ll ponder His words and write out my thought, 
still pondering His word and writing my thought, 
there’s more in His message, more to the plot

So I’ve gone to church, and now have my day,
gone to church and He gave me my day,
but also a message I need to weigh.

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

Related forms: Brevette, Blues Stanza, Culminating Verse, Diminishing Verse,Trio, Triplet

Triplet (Classic)

The Triplet has its roots in 16th century England. The classic triplet is a three line, mono-rhymed verse with meter at the discretion of the poet. It can be written as a stand alone poem or can be stanzaic, written using any number of triplets.

The word “triplet” is commonly interchanged with tercet. Since respected sources give definitions of both the triplet and the tercet that are exactly the same, similar and sometimes contradictory, I felt there should be a clearer separation of the two. One distinction I found unanimous was that authorities invariably used the term triplet when referring to a monorhymed three line stanza. Therefore, in order to be consistent and clear throughout this research, I use the term “tercet” whenever referring to any three line poem or stanza except when that poem or stanza is monorhymed, then I use “triplet”. It seems to me the best way to distinguish between the terms, although I could probably just say tercet is Italian and triplet is English for the same definition but then why in English would we use the word tercet at all?

John Dreyden, English poet and critic said of the use of the triplet, “they bound the sense”, I’ve read he used the stanza, writing a rhymed, iambic pentameter couplet followed by a rhyming Alexandrine line but have so far been unsuccessful in finding an example. The contemporary Blues Stanza would fall under the umbrella of the classic triplet.

A classic triplet is:
• a 3 line poem or stanza.
• monorhymed, aaa bbb.
• metered at the discretion of the poet. 

Upon Julia’s Clothes by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
When as in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
O, how that glittering taketh me!

• Culminating Verse is a subgenre of the classic triplet. It is in reality simply a classic triplet using a type of word play, increasing the (number of) initial consonants of the rhyme word from line to line. eg. air / care / stare.

Smog by Judi Van Gorder
The thick LA air
gives me a care
when it stings my stare.

Diminishing Verse is also a subgenre of the classic triplet. It is a classic triplet using a type of word play that reduces the (number of) initial consonants of the rhyme word from line to line. eg. that / bat / at.

Found by Judi Van Gorder
I’m not all that,
can’t swing a bat,
but I know where I’m at.

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

Related forms: Brevette, Blues Stanza, Culminating Verse, Diminishing Verse,Trio, Triplet

My example

Upon Julia’s Smock  (Parody of Upon Julia’s Clothes)

When wearing nothing but a smock,
And walking toward me with that walk
I know now’s not the time to talk.

© Lawrencealot 

Massed Transit (Culminating Verse)

When the thong compresses us
when we’re crowded on the bus
it’ still best that we not fuss.

(c) Lawrencealot

Gourmet (Diinishing Verse)

I’m pleased to see you cleared your plate.
I so enjoy a sated mate
who seldom cares what he just ate.

(c) Lawrencealot