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.
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.
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!