Kyrielle: a French poetic form

The kyrielle is a French four-line stanza form that has a refrain in the fourth line. Often, there is a rhyme scheme in the poem consisting of the following possibilities:

  • aabb

  • abab

  • aaab

  • abcb

The poem can be as long as you wish and as short as two stanzas (otherwise, the refrain is not really a refrain, is it?), and, as with many French forms, it is very nice for stretching your poetic muscles.

Also, tres importante! Your lines must contain 8 syllables. I’ve written an example below to show how this poem works (on a technical level).

“She’s not a Pretty Singer”

Evening cell phone conversation–
he rakes his hair with long fingers
that were once filled with devotion,
though she’s not a pretty singer.

He never was a man to say,
“baby,” or let his eyes linger,
and she only likes boys who stay,
but she’s not a pretty singer.

So he offered his warm coat to
another to start a fling her
aging looks could never undo,
and she’s not a pretty singer.

Some say she moved to another
state and made her name selling or
buying something, though why bother
when she’s not a pretty singer?


Here are some other resources on the kyrielle form:


Check out other Poetic Forms.


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