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Chant Poems: Poetic Forms

Categories: Poetic Forms, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog.

The chant poem is about as old as poetry itself. In fact, it may be the first form poetry took. Chant poems simply incorporate repetitive lines that form a sort of chant. Each line can repeat, or every other line. It’s easy to find many poetic forms that incorporate chanting with the use of a refrain. However, a chant poem is a little more methodical than a triolet or rondeau.

Here’s my attempt at a chant poem:

“Santa Carla”

He can see all the birds lift from the grass;
there’s another missing child on the radio.

The trees appear to be covered in glass;
there’s another missing child on the radio.

He knows the many shades of wrong and right;
there’s another missing child on the radio.

If there’s a city waiting in the night,
there’s another missing child on the radio.

*****

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

23 Responses to Chant Poems: Poetic Forms

  1. Marie Elena says:

    MAKING A MESS OF THINGS

    He chases superficial gain
    A new graffiti dawns

    Spray-painted tenets leach his soul
    A new graffiti dawns

    Fidelity repulses him
    A new graffiti dawns

    Her mousy brown bleeds into brash
    A new graffiti dawns

  2. Earl Parsons says:

    The Tunnel

    So far away, just a point of light
    The light at the end of the tunnel

    Ever so slowly, increasingly bright
    The light at the end of the tunnel

    Brighter and bigger, closer than before
    The light at the end of the tunnel

    Then all of a sudden, it was no more
    The light at the end of the tunnel

    Who turned off the light
    At the end of the tunnel

    Did day turn to night
    At the end of the tunnel

    Will the light reappear
    At the end of the tunnel

    Will we stand in fear
    At the end of the tunnel

    What’s the deal
    This tunnel

    Is it real
    This tunnel

    What’s the hap
    This tunnel

    It’s a trap
    This tunnel

  3. Kit Cooley says:

    A little different; but there is a chant that runs through this one. (I was actually writing this before I saw the prompt/challenge–very synchronous!)

    Turn of the Year

    This is the way that the hunter came
    with the bones, with the bones of the deer,
    a white jawbone points to red morels,
    yellow violets glint in the space that is clear,

    Between the pines the carcass was dragged,
    oh, those bones, oh, those bones of the deer,
    here is a leg joint by the lush bear grass,
    in the shade shimmers an orchid in fear,

    Pond-side willow whispers the name
    of the bones, of the bones of the deer,
    creek runs fast with a gurgle and plop,
    and streaks old stones with tears,

    Just a short way from the wooded path
    and the bones, and the bones of the deer,
    ants have eaten the flesh of the grouse,
    left feathers and bone; Death is near.

  4. julie e. says:

    i don’t know if anybody comes back to see comments left days after the fact, but i’m quite enchanted by this poem form and my mouth overfloweth!!

  5. Mike Bayles says:

    Sleepy Town

    I drive the streets
    in the glow of overhead lights.

    I drive the streets,
    and the roadside is in shadows.

    I drive the streets
    changing stations on the radio.

    I drive the streets
    and look for the right song to end the day.

    I drive the streets
    and look at the stream of cars going home.

    I drive the streets
    and fight off desires to sleep.

    I drive the streets
    to find a place to sing.

    I drive the streets
    with a song in my heart.

    I drive the streets
    while the rest of the town sleeps.

  6. RJ Clarken says:

    Just Desserts

    Life’s a crispy, crunchy, chocolate chip mess.
    That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    It’s what I’m used to now, I must confess.
    That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    I don’t mind a milk-mustachioed receipt.
    That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    My personal viewpoint? Dunk. Bite. Chew. Repeat.
    That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    ###

  7. RJ Clarken says:

    Crossing

    “You can’t cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

    I opened the door before I even heard the doorbell ring.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    I stood in the archway. I said, “You. What forecast do you bring?”
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    I waited for a word, ‘though I knew none would be forthcoming.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    Fat raindrops began to fall; to their beat, I started humming.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    To stay in the archway was a decision. So was moving.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    I went outside, in the rain. But were my prospects improving?
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    Standing still is always safe. But it covers little distance.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    And even straight lines stir more than the path of least resistance.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    So in that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do.
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    I had to dance in the asphalt-tinted puddles. Wouldn’t you?
    I knew there was something for me to do.

    ###

  8. JWLaviguer says:

    The Memory Remains

    The wind through the trees
    The memory remains

    The sun breaking through the clouds
    The memory remains

    Skipping stones on the still waters
    The memory remains

    Our first kiss in the boat house
    The memory remains

    You said “yes”
    The memory remains

    For better or for worse
    The memory remains

    The pain on her face
    The memory remains

    Feeling helpless
    The memory remains

    ‘Til death do you part
    The memory remains

    “You have to let her go”
    The memory remains

  9. Hannah says:

    Great work here guys…thank you for the form and challenge, Robert. :)

  10. Ber says:

    Craven Calms

    In a forest of wonder
    a heart broken

    His emotion did ponder
    a heart broken

    Glass casket deep inside
    a heart broken

    Kissing him slowly it untied
    a heart broken

  11. PKP says:

    Robert -terrific poem – I can see the power of the ancient origins of this form..in your case repetition chilling! Walt , in yours the repetition underscores the pulsing urgency. Nice.

  12. TIME AND TIDE

    The wind whips up across the lake,
    time and tide waits for no man.

    Churning waters in its wake,
    time and tide waits for no man.

    I stand at shore side gazing out,
    time and tide waits for no man.

    Questioning this life of doubt,
    time and tide waits for no man.

    Sunset settles long past rising,
    time and tide waits for no man.

    Hopes and dreams on new horizons,
    time and tide waits for no man.

  13. Note: Chant poems do not have to rhyme or maintain a certain meter or syllable count. They just need to incorporate a chant.

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