A quatorzain (from French quatorze, fourteen) is a poem of fourteen lines. Historically the term has often been used interchangeably with the term 'sonnet'. Various writers have tried to draw distinctions between 'true' sonnets, and quatorzains. Nowadays the term is seldom used, and when it is, it usually is used to distinguish fourteen line poems that do not follow the various rules that describe the sonnet.
A Quatorzain is a type of poem which has a total of fourteen lines and has a similar look to that of a sonnet but lacks that structure that that poem has. This poem can have an irregular meter to it. This allows for some freedom with the rhyme scheme of the poet. The poem originated in France and translated to fourteen in English. The poem can be written on many different topics, and it is often up to the poet. Usually, the closing lines of this poem are in rhymed iambic and can even end with a couplet. When writing this poem keep in mind that the Quatorzain is often divided into two tercets or two quatrains. Shakespeare has a number of Quatorzains due to their length and alternative rhyme as well as closing with the couplet. While the term Quarorzains is not commonly used anymore, it still is a popular type poem used today.
Quatorzain Poem Example
MOST men know love but as a part of life;
They hide it in some corner of the breast,
Even from themselves; and only when they rest
In the brief pauses of that daily strife,
Wherewith the world might else be not so rife,
They draw it forth (as one draws forth a toy
To soothe some ardent, kiss-exacting boy)
And hold it up to sister, child, or wife.
Ah me! why may not love and life be one?
Why walk we thus alone, when by our side,
Love, like a visible god, might be our guide?
How would the marts grow noble! and the street,
Worn like a dungeon-floor by weary feet,
Seem then a golden court-way of the Sun!