Types of Poetry Forms: Quatern

Today, I tried my hand at a new (to me) French poetic form that incorporates a refrain like in the villanelle and eight-syllable lines like in the kyrielle. Since I’m a big fan of refrains, I think this poetic form rocks.

Quatern Poetic Form Rules

  1. This poem has 16 lines broken up into 4 quatrains (or 4-line stanzas).
  2. Each line is comprised of eight syllables.
  3. The first line is the refrain. In the second stanza, the refrain appears in the second line; in the third stanza, the third line; in the fourth stanza, the fourth (and final) line.
  4. There are no rules for rhyming or iambics.

My Attempt at a Quatern

as the sun set in the forest, by Robert Lee Brewer

as the sun set in the forest,
she slipped out of her slip. she left
it on a branch and then asked me
to follow. her bells became stars.

when the boomerang moon melted,
as the sun set in the forest,
her trail went cold. i tried to find
which way but only the raven

knows. the moon caught a glimpse of sun
but shadow clouds surrounded her
as the sun set in the forest.
there was nothing i could explain.

she was naked and i was scared
of not having her promises,
not that i could ever keep them,
as the sun set in the forest.

Want to Try Your Hand at the Types of Poems on This Blog?

It’s as easy as pasting your poem in the comments below. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many take part and the kind of encouragement you’ll likely receive.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer and check out my personal blog, My Name Is Not Bob.


Learn more about poetic forms…

…with the assistance of The Poetry Dictionary, by John Drury. This essential desk reference for poets shares poetic forms, poetic terms, history of poetry, schools of poetry, and more.

Click to continue.


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68 thoughts on “Types of Poetry Forms: Quatern

  1. NatMat283

    So I thought this would be easy for a beginner like me. It’s not really tough but that 8 syllable per line thing is getting me. I read some of the user examples and notice they don’t always conform to the syllable rule but they are good regardless. But I read Mr. Brewer’s example and notice the gait from the 8 syllables gives it a more pleasing feel when read out loud. This is challenging for me but I’m enjoying it. Thank you.

  2. Terry Jordan

    The Scent of Regret

    I have never been without it
    The scent of regret surrounds me
    Every mistake I ever made
    Is the stench that so confounds me

    Soaring heights of anxiety
    I have never been without it
    Not your garden variety
    Plaguing much of society

    How I long to be free of it
    Unrelenting regret believed
    I have never been without it
    Dry heaving nightmares unrelieved

    Trichinosis, lockjaw strangles
    My regret knows all about it
    Like Joe Btfsplk’s* cloud dangles
    I have never been without it

    *Al Capp character has no vowels, so just guessing the # of syllables in Joe’s name

  3. teckmerc

    Pillow talk with Alice

    Two voices play at the game,
    Both listen, both speak, the words with no shame.
    And on and on and on they go,
    The endless banter just seems to flow.

    Their words their jokes, so selfsame,
    Two voices play at the game.
    His subtle joke, the softest poke,
    She returns the volley to the bloke.

    Playful and gentle, yet passionate,
    Feelings through words they do forfeit.
    Two voices play at the game,
    He strokes her hair and whispers her name.

    They tease and play and carry on,
    Not wanting to stop, but night goes on,
    He pulls her close and both inflame,
    Two voices play at the game.


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