EIF Poetry Challenge #6: Quatrain

For today’s Poetry Challenge, we are going to take a look at Quatrains, which simply put are 4-line stanzas. They normally follow a strict rhyming scheme, e.g.: ABAB:

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

From William Blake, The Garden of Love, 1794.

or ABCB:

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face,
Terror, the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy, the Human Dress.

From William Blake, A Divine Image, 1790-91.


Quatrains also tend to have a regular metre, for which you can also refer to the above examples. Those with alternating lines of tetrameter and trimeter are referred to as ballad stanza, e.g.:

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

From William Blake, The Divine Image, 1789.

Note that I have taken all of the above examples from Blake. If you want to know how to write metrical poetry without sounding stilted and monotonous, you need look no further than Blake, who often writes in regular metre but plays with unusual metric forms so that the reader never knows quite what to expect.

Another type of quatrain stanza, is the heroic quatrain: five-stress iambic verse rhymed abab. A poem we have visited previously, Grey’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, is formed of heroic quatrains. Here is the opening stanza as an example:

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

The Challenge

Write a poem made up of quatrain stanzas. You can use any of the forms detailed above, but try to stick to a regular metre and rhyming scheme. Poems comprising one single quatrain are also acceptable, but if they are short they should certainly pack a creative punch! As for subject matter, this is entirely up to you. You can take a lighthearted approach, as we did with The Limerick, or tackle more serious subject matter.

This week’s challenge will be judged by last week’s winner, Lou Faber of An Old Writer and his Words. Many thanks to Lou for agreeing to be our judge. Do pay his website a visit for many fine examples of his masterfully crafted poetry.

How to enter

There are several ways to enter this competition:

  • Write a blog post with your entry, tag ‘EIF Poetry Challenge,’ link back to this post and link to your post in the comment section below.
  • Post your entry directly into the comment section below.
  • Tweet your entry tagging @Experimentsinfc.
  • Post your entry on Instagram tagging @experimentsinfiction

The deadline for entries is Midnight CET on Tuesday 6th October 2020. Results will be announced on Wednesday 7th October 2020. The winner will be offered the chance to judge the next EIF Poetry Challenge. Good luck and may you rise to the challenge!

25 thoughts on “EIF Poetry Challenge #6: Quatrain

Add yours

  1. I love quatrains


    Sorry for this pile-up

    In your email box

    Gotta clear my head out

    Give it a detox

    Trouble is my mind is

    On overdrive it seems

    So ’till I somehow can gear down

    Continue they will stream

    (Don Matthews July 20017)

    Poet in Training

    1. The day that Covid caught Trump

      Covid was incredibly scared

      The unprecedented became Presidented

      And nobody really cared

  2. Here is one I wrote earlier. I’ll do a fresh one for next week. Promise
    ‘Smoking kills,’ Sally read on the packet
    As she bent down to pick up her litter
    So engrossed, she did not hear the racket
    Of the thirty ton lorry that hit her.

  3. This is my poem
    The visit
    I lay alone in bed one night
    And deemed of times gone by
    I saw a vision burning bright
    A light that shone on high

    I heard a voice that spoke so soft
    And ended in a sigh
    A Whisper came alone aloft
    And told me I must die

    I cried out loud in mortal fear
    And asked her to explain
    The answer came out loud and clear
    I want to end my pain

    Come join me in Eternal Sleep
    We’ve been apart too long
    The love I feel for you is deep
    The bond I feel is strong

    But I said No ! Not now I cried !
    My journey is not done
    I cannot join you by your side
    You must remain as one

    And so at last the dawn did break
    The sun shone bright and clear
    And there I stood confused awake
    To linger on in fear

    Some years have passed since that sad night
    But still it haunts my brain
    A brief return a blinding light
    And then a restless pain

    And so I say farewell my love
    And leave you to your rest
    I would not join you up above
    But hope that you are blessed

    The end must come to all I know
    To each when time is right
    As I walk on so sad and slow
    Towards Eternal Night

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