Contrapuntal Poem: Poetic Form

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Let's look at our first poetic form of February: the contrapuntal poem.

Contrapuntal Poems

I've had difficulty in hunting down who originated contrapuntal poems, but it does appear to be influenced by the music world. Contrapuntal music is composed of multiple melodies that are relatively independent that are sounded together. In the poetic world, contrapuntal poems are poems that intertwine two (or more) separate poems into a single composition--often by offering one line of poem A and before a corresponding line in poem B from start to finish.

In an attempt to show how this works, I'm going to share two short independent poems before sharing my attempt at a contrapuntal poem.

The Light at the End, by Robert Lee Brewer

Before leaving the house
I saw the storms approach
and thought here it comes:
the end, a bright flash
of light across my face.
Then, I heard the thunder.

The Tunnel, by Robert Lee Brewer

Wandering these empty rooms
dark and devoid of life--
lonely moments to bend.
Of every lost love letter,
I remember the desire
shaking me inside and out.


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Here’s my attempt at a Contrapuntal Poem:

The Light at the End of the Tunnel, by Robert Lee Brewer

Before leaving the house,
wandering these empty rooms,
I saw the storms approach,
dark and devoid of life,
and I thought, here it comes:
lonely moments to bend
the end. A bright flash
of every lost love letter
of light across my face,
I remember the desire...
Then, I heard the thunder
shaking me inside and out.


This form was fun to write, because it forced me to think of how to get three meanings from my words at once: the meaning of the first poem, meaning of the second poem, and, of course, the meaning of them in harmony.

By the way, there are multiple ways to contrapuntal poems. Here are a few other nice examples (in other words, better than mine) I could find online:


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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