Common Examples of Quatrain comes from any source.
Many famous songs have verses with four lines in them.
These are examples of quatrains, though in song form.
(“DANNY BOY,” TRADITIONAL IRISH FOLK SONG)
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
(“I WILL” BY THE BEATLES)
Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to, I will
(“BLUE SUEDE SHOES” BY ELVIS PRESLEY)
Well, it’s one for the money
Two for the show
Three to get ready
Now go, cat, go
(“BEAUTIFUL DAY” BY U2)
The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
There’s no room
No space to rent in this town
THEN THERE IS THE CLASSIC QUATRAIN
SIGNIFICANCE OF QUATRAIN IN LITERATURE
From the prevalence of different forms of quatrains in many different literary traditions, it is clear to see that quatrains have been a building block of poetry for a large part of human history. Though it has been so popular for many millennia and in many different cultures, there is no unified theory about why the quatrain is so fundamental to poetry. It could be that its brevity makes the form easier to memorize, which was important in the early days of oral storytelling and the tradition of nomadic storytellers later on, such as troubadours. Examples of quatrains also show that they can be just long enough to get an entire sublime concept across to the reader or audience member, such as in the tradition of Shichigon-zekku poetry.
EXAMPLES OF QUATRAIN IN LITERATURE
(“THE KNIGHT IN THE PANTHER’S SKIN” BY SHOTA RUSTAVELI, TRANS. VENERA URUSHADZE)
I sing of the lion whom the use of lance, shield and sword adorns,
Of Tamar, the Queen of Queens, the ruby-cheeked and jet-haired.
How shall I dare pay tribute to her in praiseworthy verses,
Whom to look upon is to feast upon the choicest of honey?
Shota Rustaveli’s medieval epic poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin,” is perhaps the most famous contribution to Georgian literature ever written. Rustavelia wrote his poem in one hundred and ten stanzas, each one an example of quatrain. In traditional shairi, or Rustavelian quatrain, each line has sixteen syllables and there is a caesura between the eighth and ninth syllable of each line.The end of each of the four lines rhyme in the original Georgian verse. While it is difficult in translation to keep all of these components intact, the above excerpt does a good job of echoing the epic nature of the imagery and length of line.
(“MOUNT FUJI” BY ISHIKAWA JOZAN)
This great peak above the clouds, where hermit-wizards came for sport
The deep pools of whose caverns holy dragons have inhabited from old
The snow is like white silk, the rising smoke like a handle
A great white fan inverted, in the heavens above the eastern sea
This is an example of Shichigon-zekku poetry from seventeenth century Japanese poet Ishikawa Jozan. Each line plays an important role. The first lines serves as exposition and description of the scene, while the second line further illustrates the setting. The third line provides a change and a hint at the sublime essence of the poem, much like the turn or volta in the sonnet form. The final and fourth line completes the thought. This is an example of a quatrain that is itself an entire poem.
(THE RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM, TRANS. EDWARD FITZGERALD)
Awake! For morning in the bowl of night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.
Edward Fitzgerald popularized the rubaiyat form of quatrain in his translation of Persian poet Omar Khayyam’s quatrains. Just as with the Shichigon-zekku form of quatrain highlighted in the previous example, a ruba’i quatrain is an entire poem in four lines. While the original Persian quatrains could have a number of different rhyme schemes, Fitzgerald made the AABA rhyme scheme most associated with rubaiyat in English.
(“THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER” BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE)
The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May’st hear the merry din.’
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is an example of the ballad quatrain. He uses the rhyme scheme of ABCB throughout most of the poem. The key feature of the ballad meter, as shown above, is the alternation between iambic tetrameter (eight syllables split into four iamb feet) and iambic trimeter (six syllables, with alternating stressed syllables).
(“Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost)
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost is the most contemporary of all of the examples here, and it is clear that he was a scholar of poetic techniques in his poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” He uses the rhyme scheme popularized by Edward Fitzgerald’s The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Indeed, most of the quatrain examples in Frost’s poem have the AABA rhyme scheme. The final quatrain, however, is monorhymed, which was an important part of the Rustavelian quatrain..
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