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Quatrain

A Quatrain is a type of poem which has its lines of verse grouped in four-line stanzas. It is one of the most common stanza forms in English verse, and can be traced back to the ancient literary traditions of Rome, Greece and China. The term quatrain may refer to a single stanza or the entire poem.

There are many forms of quatrain, each featuring variations of line length and rhyme schemes. Some recurring forms have become accepted as conventions and given names.

Quatrain Poetry

Among the most common is the ballad stanza, familiar in English verse and song through the centuries. This named form specifies alternating lines of four and three feet in each stanza, and the rhyme is usually A-B-C-B. This quatrain form also appears extensively in hymns. The elegaic, or heroic, quatrain is a structure using four lines of uniform length, the rhythmic stresses of iambic pentameter, and an A-B-A-B rhyme. Or if the rhyme is A-B-B-A, that's an Italian quatrain. 

Examples

They shut me up in Prose by Emily Dickinson

They shut me up in Prose—
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet—
Because they liked me "still"—

Still! Could themselves have peeped—
And seen my Brain—go round—
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason—in the Pound—


Jabberwocky by 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
 

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!" 

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.
 

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came! 

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


Related Information

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