Tho Tam Chu

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

Tho Tam Chu or Eight Word Poetry [Vietnamese] appears to be more flexible in stanza length as well as tonal and end rhyme. The rhyme schemes are patterns I found in actual poems. It appears to me that as long as there is rhyme, it probably doesn’t matter what the pattern is.  The elements of the Tho Tam Chu are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of either tercets, quatrains or septets.
  2. measured by the number of words in the line, 8 words per line.
  3. rhymed,
  4. tonal rhyme is flexible except, if the end word is sharp then the 3rd word is also sharp and words 5 and 6 are flat. Conversely, if the end word is flat then the 3rd word is also flat and the 5th and 6th words are sharp.
  5. end rhyme
  6. when written in tercets
    w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w a b
    w w w w b w w b
  7. when written in quatrains is:
    w w w w w w w w     or    w w w w w w w w
    w w w w w w w a             w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w w w            w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w w a             w w w w w w w w
  8. when written as a septet
    w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w w a
    w w w w w w w b
    w w w w w w w b
    w w w w w w w w

Note: Whereas with the Bay Chu, I copped out because I had no notion of the tonal requirement, I was emboldened here by Judi’s observation that tonal rhyme was flexible. I therefore took the liberty to equate the Vietnamese flat and sharp sounds to the English long and short sounds, and have treated the words in positions 3,5,6 and 8 accordingly.

From Wikipedia

English vowels are sometimes split into “long” and “short” vowels along lines different from the linguistic differentiation. Traditionally, the vowels /eɪ iː aɪ oʊ juː/ (as in bait beat bite boat bute) are said to be the “long” counterparts of the vowels /æ ɛ ɪ ɒ ʌ/ (as in bat bet bit bot but) which are said to be “short”. This terminology reflects their pronunciation before the Great Vowel Shift.

Traditional English phonics teaching, at the preschool to first grade level, often used the term “long vowel” for any pronunciation that might result from the addition of a silent E(e.g., like) or other vowel letter as follows:

Letter “Short” “Long” Example
A a /æ/ /eɪ/ mat / mate
E e /ɛ/ /iː/ pet / Pete
I i /ɪ/ /aɪ/ twin / twine
O o /ɒ/ /oʊ/ not / note
U u /ʌ/ /juː/ cub / cube
A mnemonic was that each vowel’s long sound was its name.
In Middle English, the long vowels /iː, eː, ɛː, aː, ɔː, oː, uː/ were generally written i..e, e..e, ea, a..e, o..e, oo, u..e. With the Great Vowel Shift, they came to be pronounced /aɪ, iː, iː, eɪ, oʊ, uː, aʊ/. Because ea and oo are digraphs, they are not called long vowels today. Under French influence, the letter u was replaced with ou (or final ow), so it is no longer considered a long vowel either. Thus the so-called “long vowels” of Modern English are those vowels written with the help of a silent e.

Wikipedia: Traditional long and short vowels in English orthography

My Example

Form: Tho Tam Chu

Vietnam Poetry Didactic

If word three is long, expect to find
the words five and six not so aligned.
By word three, eight’s sound is now defined.
One must keep these rules within one’s mind.
That being done, then each line is fun,
a challenge yet, here I write this one.
An unrhymed line must still conform like so.

© Lawrencealot – January 31, 2015

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Bay Chu

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

Tho Bay Chu or Seven Word Poetry [Vietnamese] is written with seemingly more flexible tonal pattern than most Viet verse with the exception of when an end word is flat, the 3rd word must be sharp and when the end word is sharp, the 3rd word in the line must be flat. The elements of the Tho Bay Chu are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
  2. measured by number of words, 7 words per line.
  3. rhymed, tonal rhyme appears to be at the discretion of the poet except if and end word is flat, the 3rd word of the line must be sharp or if the end word is sharp, the 3rd word of the line must be flat. End rhyme aaxa bbxb etc. or xaxa xbxb etc.

Note: I cannot begin to write one of these, because the concepts of a tonal flat or sharp is not within my grasp, even though I can find audio samples on Wikipedia.

Cethramtu Rannaigheacht Mor

The Cethramtu Rannaigheacht Mor is a relatively simple stanzaic Irish Verse Form. 

The Cethramtu Raanigheacht Mor is:
• written in any number of quatrains,
• syllabic, each line has 3 syllables.
• rhymed xaxa xbxb etc, x being unrhymed.
• written with the defining features of most Celtic poems, cywddydd (harmony of sound) and dunadh (ending the poem with the same word, phrase or line with which the poem began) 
Swinging Door by Judi Van Gorder

Open door
lets her roam,
in and out
of her home. 

Fun with toys
bright play things,
when she swings
the bell rings.

She’ll not leave
here’s hopin’,
through the door
left open.

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

My example

Looks Better – (Cethramtu Rannigheacht Mor)

White and wet
heavy snow
falling fast
cars can’t go.

Stay inside.
Read a book.
Time off work’s
what I took.

Snuggle up
with a wife
just your own;
avoid strife.

daunting chores –
out of doors.

a delight
at Christmas
‘cus it’s white.

© Lawrencealot – Nov 20, 2014

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Cethramtu Rannigheacht Mor


The Cantar in verse is an octosyllabic quatrain that assonates and is usually limited to one strophe. The form dates back to 15th century Spain. Cantar is the Spanish verb “to sing” and in Spanish literature is loosely used as a noun for the “words for a song”.

The Cantar is:
• a 4 line strophe written as a stand alone poem or combined with other forms such as the Seguidilla or Flamenca.
• syllabic, all lines written in 8 syllables.
• rhymed, L2 and L4 rhyme with assonance, sometimes true rhyme but generally not. L1 and L3 are unrhymed however the end syllable should be stressed.

Cantar by Judi Van Gorder

The windward breeze sings high tenor
while rolling waves play bottom bass
along the ragged shore. The song
of the ocean follows my day.

• The Cantiga is a predecessor of the Cantar. The Galician-Portuguese poetic genre was written between the 12th and 14th centuries. Rhythm and musicality were central while the words were limited. The themes were focused on the individual, a woman singing to her lover, a man to his lady, and the best known cantigas were about the miracles of the Virgin Mary. The frame of the Cantiga is at the poet’s discretion although 8 syllable lines are common.
• Cantiga de Amigo is a subgenre of the Cantiga, it is the female voice speaking of a lover. The voice could be the woman, her mother, her sister, or her friend, the subject is always the male lover. They are written in simple strophic forms, with repetition, variation, and parallelism, and most often include a refrain They are the largest body of female-voiced love lyrics of medieval times.
• The Seranilla (Spanish – little mountain song) is a short lined strophic sub genre of 14th century Galician-Portuguese cantigas. It is often a light hearted poem built around the meeting of a gentleman and a pretty country girl. It is often written in 5 syllable lines without prescribed number of lines or rhyme, both at the discretion of the poet. When written in octasyllabic lines it is called a Serrano.

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

My Example

Fear of Heights (Cantar)

Upon this precipice I sit
because I’m quite afraid to stand.
I’ll crawl away or maybe slink
for I’m an acrophobic man.

© Lawrencealot – November 19, 2014

Photo credit: Visual

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Sneadhbhairdne (sna-vuy-erd-ne):
A quatrain stanza of alternating eight syllable lines and four syllable lines with two syllable endings. Lines two and four rhyme, line three consonates with both. All words in the final line must rhyme line, the final word of line four alliterating with the preceding stressed word.

(x B) x x x x (x a)
x x (x b)
x x x x x (b c)
b b (x B)

Pasted from <>

Sneadhbairdne (snay-vuy-erd-ne) is an ancient Irish Form seemingly overloaded with features used in direct meter.

The Sneadhbairdne is:
• stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
• syllabic 8-4-8-4 syllables per line.
• alliterated in each line.
• written with two-syllable end words in each line.
• rhymed, L2 and L4 end rhyme. L3 consonates with the rhyme.
• every stressed syllable in L4 must rhyme.
• written with cywddydd (harmony of sound) and dunadh (beginning and ending the poem with the same word, phrase or line).

x x x x x x (x x) 
x x (x A) 
x x x x x x (x a) 
x A(x A)

October by Barbara Hartman

Beware! Canyon country’s ablaze
—gold leaves galore
glow by silver streams that glisten,
storms roar, restore.

Cumulus clouds shroud the Chuskas,
people prepare
for horny hunters who declare
“Let bears beware!”

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

My example

She’s a Tease (Sneadhbairdne)

Warning! She will keep you waiting
playing, pleasing
quite despite impatient pleading
She likes teasing.

With her wiles you’ll welcome waiting
scorning mourning.
I’ll implore you’re not ignoring
forlorn warning.

© Lawrencealot – October 9, 2014

Visual template of sorts


Tranquil Waters

Tranquil Waters is an invented form (aren’t they all) created by Robin Richardson Jr. writing as Sector-Hunter on

It is Stanzaic, consisting of any number of quatrains.
It is Syllabic, 5/4/4/3
It is Rhymed: xaxa, with unique rhymes each stanza.
There is no metric requirement.

My example

Planetary Etchings (Tranquil Waters)

If Velikovski
is proven right
old beliefs it
will indict.

The cosmologists
who rule today
will rewrite their

not gravity
played the larger
role you see.

The proof’s on our earth,
and it’s on Mars!
Birkeland currents
fuel our stars.

© Lawrencealot – September 24, 2014

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Tranquil Waters


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.

The Louise is a stanzaic form that seems to be an exercise in using feminine and masculine endings. It was created by Viola Berg.

The Louise is:
stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
metered. L1, L2, L3 are pentameter (5 metric feet), L4 is iambic dimeter (2 metric feet)
composed with L1 and L3 with feminine (unstressed) endings.
rhymed. L2 and L4 rhyme. Rhyme scheme xaxa xbxb etc x being unrhymed.
Land Ho! by Judi Van Gorder
So long ago, adventure for a sailor, 
with well supplied, staunch ships Columbus sailed 
without a means to navigate the water 
New land they hailed.
Pasted from
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My example

Commanding Stuff   (Louise)

 Commanding Stuff

The lightning slicing through the sky can frighten
the most established and contented folk
but others wait for thunder’s crash proclaiming
it’s not a joke.


© Lawrencealot – September 15, 2014

Picture credit: Theresa Clark from Pinterest

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Presidential Meter

The Presidential Meter form was created by Gary Kent Spain, aka venicebard on Allpoetry.
The form is stanzaic, consisting of any number of quatrains
It is syllabic: 6/5/6/5
Rhyme Scheme: xaxa
It is metric: with long lines being an anapest plus an amphibrach
And the short lines being and anapest and an iamb, or as Gary points out below it can be spoken as trochaic trimeter..So take your choice.
8 lines or more.
His poem in trochaic trimeter:
The Lyre-in-Chief
“If you like your doctor,
if you like your plan,
you can keep your doctor,
you can keep your plan.”
The Liar-in-Chief
War through regulation
waged on you and me.
IRS men target
those who disagree.
Congress is not needed!
for, as he has said,
with his pen and cell-phone,
he becomes the head.
Work that crowd there, baby:
tell them racists lurk.
Tell them those that want to
shouldn’t have to work.
Push those same old buttons,
get that same old drink:
hear-no-evil voters
(lemmings on the brink).
Pasted from <>
Gary’s response to my metric interpretation – So you’re saying I misinterpreted his meter, eh?  You are right, in that the way HE says it, it is an anapest followed by two iambs (with feminine ending on odd-numbered lines).  But it CAN be spoken as trochaic trimeter, and I went with that.  Cheers!
My example using an anapest foot:
The Presidential Way (Presidential Meter)
I will gladly enter
yet another form
that allows remembrance
that a lie’s the norm.
Anapests are starting
each and every line.
Then you use an iamb
where you want the rhyme.
First he won by plying
us with guilt and pride.
From the start however,
the man lied and lied.
© Lawrencealot – June 2, 2014
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Presidential Meter

Coin Poem

Coin Poem
Structure, Metrical Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Pivot Requirement
A two-couplet poem where the first couplet states a thought and the second flips it, or shows the other side. It is syllabic, showing some relation to many Japanese poems by alternating seven and five-syllable lines, but has rhyme. The rhyme can be as rhymed couplets or merely the second and fourth line of the poem.
Rhyme: ab cb or aa bb
Rhythm/Stanza Length:
Line/Poem Length:
My Thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for the wonderful PoetryBase resource.
My Example Poem
Early to Bed, Late to Rise   (Coin Poem)
Early in and out of bed
helps one get a head.
if sleeping late is allowed
you avoid the crowd.
© Lawrencealot – April 29, 2014
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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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