Poems | Poetry Tips

Three Forms of Poetry; Limerick, Pantoum & Tanka

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Poetry is a genre that has a lot of variation. Some forms of poetry are extremely structured, following a certain rhyme scheme and syllable count, while others allow more creative freedom.

Some forms have more structure than others. Some follow rules that have to do with rhyming, syllables, repetition, etc. Others are an expression that are fully in the hands of the author.

A.Limerick

Basically, I also had the thought that if you’re not humourous you can’t write this form of poetry. But not always true.

A limerick is a short, humorous poem that follows a determined rhyme scheme of AABBA.

This five line poem also follows a syllable count.

  • Line 1: 7-10 syllables
  • Line 2: 7-10 syllables
  • Line 3: 5-7 syllables
  • Line 4: 5-7 syllables
  • Line 5: 7-10 syllables.

The rhyme scheme of a limerick is A-A-B-B-A and there is no set meter or syllables.

A-lines are iambic tetrameter and B-lines are iambic trimeter.

Many times, the third and fourth lines are shorter than the other three.

Examples

There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, “It is just as I feared!–

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren

Have all built their nests in my beard!

Other example:

There once was a woman from Ryde,

Who ate too many apples and died.

The apples fermented

inside the lamented,

And made cider inside her insides

So now, A limerick is a short, humorous poem that follows a determined rhyme scheme of AABBA.

This five line poem also follows a syllable count.

Line 1: 7-10 syllables

Line 2: 7-10 syllables

Line 3: 5-7 syllables

Line 4: 5-7 syllables

Line 5: 7-10 syllables

So line one in Limerick could have 7-10 syllables

Line two also 7-10 syllables

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Line three with 5-7 syllables

Line four with 5-7 syllables

Then line five again with 7-10

This is not syllables restricted like haiku.

Limerick examples

1)A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill will hold more than his belican,

He can take in his beak

Enough food for a week

But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

2) Mother

She saw through almost all of our lies

And plied us with sodas and fries

When our manners were good

And we did what we should

She was righteous and caring and wise

What do you notice?

Five line poem also follows a syllable count.

Line 1: 7-10 syllables

Line 2: 7-10 syllables

Line 3: 5-7 syllables

Line 4: 5-7 syllables

Line 5: 7-10 syllables

Iambic Pentameter I

Is a line of poetry.An iamb is a foot or beat consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, or a short syllable followed by a long syllable. For example, deLIGHT, the SUN, forLORN, one DAY, reLEASE. English is the perfect language for iambus because of the way the stressed and unstressed syllables work. Interestingly enough, the iamb sounds a little like a heartbeat.

Pentameter is simply penta, which means five meters. So a line of poetry written in pentameter has five feet, or five sets of stressed and unstressed syllables.

But that’s not that for Limerick.”Iambic” refers to the type of foot used, here the iamb, which in English indicates an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

So now, A limerick is a short, humorous poem that follows a determined rhyme scheme of AABBA.

This five line poem also follows a syllable count.

Line 1: 7-10 syllables

Line 2: 7-10 syllables

Line 3: 5-7 syllables

Line 4: 5-7 syllables

Line 5: 7-10 syllables

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This kind of rhymes

There’s a lady in each of our lives

Who endured all the lows and the highs

That her children went through

Like the mumps or the flu

Or the joy of a pleasant surprise

She strengthened our family ties

And wiped away tears from our eyes

She forgave all our flaws

And our social faux pas

And she baked really great apple pies

She saw through almost all of our lies

And plied us with sodas and fries

When our manners were good

And we did what we should

She was righteous and caring and wise

B.Pantoum form of Poetry.

This is the simplest. Because the only thing you have to write is just a 4 line stanza.

A pantoum is a poem that uses a lot of repetition. To create this poem, follow these steps.

1) Write a quatrain (4 line stanza). Writing emotional lines usually works best.

2) Take lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza and make them lines 1 and 3 of the second stanza.

3) Take lines 2 and 4 of the second stanza and make them lines 1 and 3 of the third stanza.

4)Continue your poem using this pattern.

5)For your last stanza, go back to the first stanza of the poem. Make line 3 of the first stanza line 2 of your last. Make line 1 of the first stanza line 4 in your last.

See this example;

Her smile was visible to all,

Showing a dark secret

From an inescapable memory

Because of the lie she kept telling herself.

Showing a dark secret,

The light was dimming

Because of the lie she kept telling herself.

She tried to push the pain aside.

The light was dimming

From an inescapable memory

She tried to push the pain aside.

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Her smile was visible to all.

Other rules in Pantoum form of Poetry

Example

My name is MJ

I can sing

Yes of course

I can sing operaI can sing

Oh yes

I can sing opera

That’s what I’m saying

Oh yes

Yes of course

That’s what I’m saying

My name is MJ

A pantoum has any number of quatrains.

C.Tanka

A tanka is another Japanese form of poetry that follows a syllable format.

This poem is composed of 5 lines.

Lines 1 and 3 have 5 syllables.

Lines 2, 4, and 5 contain 7 syllables each.

Line 1- 5 syllables

Line 2- 7 syllables

Line 3- 5 syllables

Line 4- 7 syllables

Line 5- 7 syllables

Examples;

One diamond dewdrop (5 syllables)

Sparkles in morning sunlight (7 syllables)

Then, slowly drips down (5 syllables)

A dandelion’s green stem (7 syllables)

Nourishing its thirsty roots. ( 7 syllables)

Another example of tanka

Gardens stand empty

Gleaned under the harvest moon

With paintbrush in hand

Autumn becomes the artist

Painting nature’s masterpiece

Following;

5 syllables

7 syllables

5 syllables

7 syllables

7 syllables

“Penta” means “five,” so you know there will be five of SOMETHING in iambic pentameter.

In other words, iambic pentameter is a term that refers to a very specific type of rhythm that you find in poetry. Iambic meter is defined as poetic verse that is made up of iambs, which are metrical “feet” with two syllables.

In poetry, a group of two or three syllables is referred to as a foot. A specific type of foot is an iamb. A foot is an iamb if it consists of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, so the word remark is an iamb.

Penta means five, so a line of iambic pentameter consists of five iambs – five sets of unstressed and stressed syllables.

By: Isaac Adedeji

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