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simple suggestions to make writing poetry more enjoyable and less stressful
Timing the Rhyming

The academics of the writing world seem to complicate writing as much as they possibly can; I don’t know why.  I write my poetry anyway. I rarely think of iambic pentameter, dactylic tetrameter, or any other meters. I say what I want to in the way that I want.  I use rhyme a lot simply because it is easier for the reader to read, rhythm so that I can enjoy reading the damn poem to myself, and flow to keep the story’s continuity.

I do believe that every poet should attempt a rigidly structured 'form' of poetry at least four times a year. The rigidly constructed poems teach me to look at how I choose my words, the construction of individual lines of a poem, and keeping the rhythm and flow 'easy to read'. I do like to enjoy my writing, so if I fail to meet the requirements of a particular 'form' of poetry, it is not the end of the world, and I just might have written a good poem anyway.

For contests, and academic reasons, I attempt form poetry where structure is rigid and difficult. By doing this, I learn to look for exciting word choices when I am simply writing for me. The difficult forms are part of a continuous learning curve. The following “Form’ poems were written with the above in the back of my mind all the time.

Remember that Shakespeare did not have to follow any rules of form, he made his up as he went; so did many other poets of that era. If you learn to choose the right words, you can too. Writing “Form” poetry will probably result in many failures, but are they really failures? Or, have you created a new “Form” of poetry?

1: Haiku/ Senru 
The structure of these two forms is identical; the difference being that ‘Haiku’ is about nature and ‘Senyru’ is about emotions.  I find both forms hard to write and actually say something, 17 syllables isn’t much in the English language. The original Japanese had an advantage because their characters could represent a phrase. I have put a few Haiku’s in a chain so I could say something. I used the 5-7-5 form of haiku. [That is syllables per line. 3 lines only per haiku]


Warmings winds bring storms
Spring renews nature’s blessings
Life begins again
Dust laden air smothers
energy; lethargy reigns,
Activity falls.

Fluffy clouds appear
Filtering heat from sunshine
Autumn days cooling

Lawn is frosted white
Winter’s cold affects all things
The fire inside is warm.

2: Cinquain.

I can never quite figure this one out, If you use two lines to make a verse, you write couplets, three lines per verse is a tercet, four lines makes a quatrain, but a cinquain is not simply five lines to a verse, it’s a “Form” poem consisting of five lines, but has a rigid structure of syllables for each line ; Line 1 – 2 syllables, line 2 -4 syllables, line 3 – 6 syllables, line 4 has 8 syllables and line 5 goes back to 2 syllables. This form requires a lot of thought about word choices, each word has to mean something as there are not a lot to use to say what you want to say.  I have used a three verse chain to say my piece.


Shakes itself loose
From the prison of night
To frolic madly with delight
Until –

scorching sunlight
Sends wild life to shady
Shelter, there to await evening’s

Signals cloaking
Darkness wrapping the day
In the twinkling of bright starlight.

You might ask ; “Where’s the rhyming I’m supposed to be timing?” It’s coming next in the list; not all ‘Form’ poetry actually rhymes.

3: Limerick

The Irish invented the limerick and its humour. Yes, most limericks are humorous. A short form of poetry that is enjoyable to write and, often, a hoot to read.  I am not sure of the exact structure because I think it can be varied as long as the rhythm, rhyme and flow,  is appropriate for the content.

The Boy from Australia

There was a young boy from Australia
Who painted his rear like a dahlia
The colours were true
With the reds, white and blue,
But the perfume:
Dear me, what a failure.

Sneaky Snake

Sneaky snake waits by the gate
Hoping I’m not late,
He doesn’t want to bite,
He just wants to fright me,
Sneaky little snake.

To my mind both are limericks because they tell of an incident which could have happened, and probably did.  The construction of each one is quite different, yet the impact is similar. I think the first one is closest to the academic requirements. I am adding another poem here although it is probably NOT a limerick. However, I like it.

O’Reilly’s Cat

O’Reilly’s tom cat was eating some fish,
McGilligan’s dog saw him at his dish
One mighty bound the fence it was cleared
and McGilligan’s dog had the tomcats ear.
With a hiss and a spit, a growl and a bark
O’Reilly’s tom cat dissappeared  in the dark.
The conquering hero turned for his fish
To find he had won a clean empty dish.

Perhaps not a true limerick but a lot of fun anyway.

4: Acrostic.

This is where the letters from the poem’s title are used as the first letter of each line of the poem. Normally written horizontally across the page [ the title], write vertically down the page and go from there. Rhyming is not necessary, but can be used if you wish.

The Wallaby

There’s a wallaby up by the railway line,
He’s there every day when the weather’s fine.
Eyes watch me closely as I near his ground
With legs like springs, he hops and bounds.
And that long tail at the back, guides him on his beaten track
Lovely grey fur, and such graceful poise
Large ears tuned for every noise.
A kangaroo in miniature, as timid as can be
But a privilege to watch as he’s running free.
You have to love this little guy every time you pass by.
I have rhymed this acrostic: end line rhyme on lines 1,2,3,4 and 6,7,8,9 with in-line rhyme in lines 5 and 10. I rhymed like that because I felt like it at the time.

5: A Villanelle.

This is where attention to detail is essential and word choices are very important. Not every subject can be successfully written in this form but it is very interesting to try with its rigid structure and repeating lines. This ‘form’ has 19 lines, five verses with three lines each, and the last verse has four lines. In addition to that there are lines repeated. For instance line 1 of verse 1 is repeated as line 3 of verse 2, line 3 of verse 4, and line 3 in the final quatrain. I have marked those lines with an asterisk. If that wasn’t enough you are required to repeat line 3 from verse 1 as well. [Marked +] I think you are supposed to have ten syllables per line to be accurate. I like the flow I have in this poem and no doubt it could be improved with a lot of analysis and hard work. Unless you need the accuracy for a contest or something, does it matter if the mathematics is just a tad out?


I sit on white sand, lean back on my chair*
Watching  the world as it passes me by.
Idly dreaming with  much time to spare +

A high flying plane leaves trails in the air
And my attention is drawn to the sky
I sit on white sand, lean back on my chair*

Clouds quickly change with the currents of air
And many wonderful things pass me by
Idly dreaming with much time to spare +

An old man, an anvil, some damsels fair
A black stallion with head held so high
I sit on white sand, lean back in my chair*

The clouds swirl some more - I see something rare
A stone castle is just floating on by
Idly dreaming with much time to spare.+

A mermaid up there with long flowing hair
Stirs memories and I give a long sigh.
I sit on white sand, lean back in my chai r*
Idly dreaming with much time to spare. +

6: Terza Rima

This is one where you can have a ball or get your heart broken, Me – I had a ball. Again there is a strict structure to follow if you want to get it precise. Roughly you need lines to be the same length [syllables per line] about 10 or 11 syllables, and have a nice rhythm. Then comes the rhyme scheme. In this form the middle line of verse one rhymes with lines 1 & 3 in the second verse, the middle line of verse 2 rhymes with lines 1 & 3 in the third verse, and that rhyme pattern is continued to the end where the finishing couplet rhymes with the middle line of the previous verse. I have used the finishing couplet [ 2 lines ] to compare town and country;  town lost.

The Bushland is Calling

As I enter the bush to answer its call
Leaves filter the sunlight from sensitive eyes,
And on dry grass my boots softly fall.

A branch in my hand,  swishing at flies
Makes the beauty of nature pleasing to see,
Moving like pictures in front of my eyes.

Bird calls are delightful, songs from the trees,
Colours stand out on the branch where they perch,
Then I stumble and fall, down on my knees
I stumble again, then rise with a lurch,
Cursing my folly for not looking down,
And my mind thinks of Sundays in Church
Short grass in the bush is all dry and brown
Because this land is now crying in pain;
I just wish that the rains would pelt down .

A walk past some rocks shows me different terrain,
Tall straggly trees shade a deep rocky pool
And I hear sounds from the songbirds again
Wallabys drink, fish swim safe in the cool
‘Roos and bandicoots scurry on by,
And I scare them all off, like a fool

Close to the water just a few inches high
Maiden-hair fern is a soft gentle green
My hand brushes it gently, I sigh.

Always living in towns little spirit is seen
But the bushland is calling, as it always has been.

7 : Terzanelle

*The terzanelle is a modified villanelle. It uses the terza rima's interlocked rhyme pattern, but fits the villanelle form of five triplets and a quatrain. In addition, the middle line of the 1st stanza becomes the third line of the next stanza, and so on, such that the terzanelle is a huge pain, but worth the effort and determination to finish.
Because the repeated line changes and the rhyme sounds change (according to terza rima structure) the terzanelle is a less obsessive poem than the villanelle whose repetition can be overpowering. A terzanelle's repetition is more subtle and can give the poem a lush texture that a harsh repeater-poem cannot do. Terzanelle's are difficult to write, but fun to play with.*   
{ * This excerpt is from Poetry Forms and Terminology - a how-to site}

If you have got this far you must be keen. This ‘form’ is the marriage between the Terza Rima and the Villanelle. It has aspects of both and is a very interesting ‘form’ to play with.  Some subject material simply won’t co-operate with the Terzanelle, but picking fruit seems to work out OK.

Picking Fruit

This is the time we should all go together
when berries and cherries are ripe on the trees
while it's cool in this fine autumn weather.

Mid morning's the best, in a nice gentle breeze,
Getting out to the orchard's no bother,
when  berries and cherries are ripe on the trees.

Jenny and Jack have soft aprons of leather
so fruit picking in groups is good fun,
Getting out to the orchard's no bother.

There are ladders and coats for anyone
with enough baskets and bags for us all,
so fruit picking in groups is good fun.

When the fruit's in the boxes we'll get a call
To dust ourselves off before we break away
With enough baskets and bags for us all.

With fruit in our bags we're leaving today
This is the time we should all go together
To dust ourselves off before we break away,
while it's cool in this fine autumn weather.

8: Samisen.

This is a type of poem from oriental countries. Some say Japan, some say Korea, but no one is really sure. It doesn’t matter really. This ‘form’ has three verses of eight lines each. The structure of the lines does cause some consternation with new writers. Written as purely syllable count is OK, but with this poem there is a ‘refrain’ that is repeated throughout the poem.
So the syllable count for line 1 could be written as 5 & 3 = 8.  The three being the refrain. Bear that in mind and I’ll write out the syllable count of one verse and add R where the refrain is located.
Line 1 -  5 & 3R
        2-    3R
        3 -    5 & 3R
        4 -    8
        5 -    6
        6 -    6
        7 -    6
        8 -    3R

Note: I messed up here because I have a total of nine syllables where I should have eight and my refrain has four syllables, not three. Also, I continued on from the three verses to five in order to say what I wanted to in the poem. I failed to write a Samisen Poem, but I do like the one I have written.

                                  Among the Trees

              Gentle breezes waft among the trees,
              Among the trees.
              Blossom scent is strong among the trees
              Bird songs are softly ringing in
              Tree tops so very high,
              Leaves are gently sighing
              As wings pass quickly by,
              Among the trees.

              Wallabies will  hop among the trees,
              Among the trees.
              Feeding on the grass among the trees.
              Kangaroos eat underneath
              Midst the grasses and the heath;
              In truth there is a welter
              Of wildlife seeking shelter,
              Among the trees.

              Many snakes are gliding, among the trees,
              Among the trees.
              Lizards scurry by, among the trees.
              They all live on the ground
              And hardly make a sound.
              Field mice and little moles
              Disappear in secret holes,
              Among the trees.

            I dearly love to walk, among the trees,
            Among the trees.
            And listen to the talk, among the trees,
            As the wind flows thru the leaves
            And the branches of the trees
            It sends hope to the weak
            Softly brushes past my cheek,
            Among the trees.

          Most wildlife is quite shy, among the trees,
          Among the trees,
          But I can wander by, among the trees.
          I am just another creature
          With no special feature,
          For, no matter where I roam
          I'm in Mother Nature's home,
          Among the trees.

9: Alliterisen

    I am told this is a new form of poetry invented by a member of WDC. In fact there are two forms, one rhyming and one not. The rhyming version has a mere seven syllables per line including the alliteration, while the non-rhyming version has seven syllables plus the alliteration. My effort combined the two making a new form of poetry, maybe? Or simply using creative licence to do my own thing? I must say this one needs a bit of work yet to get it flowing more naturally. Line three is out of whack with the others.

Puppy’s Presents

On that shelf sits a jar of shiny stones
Roughly rescued by the puppy from his bones.
He hid them while he ran right by me,
Lis received her pretty presents happily.
Damn dog! You know I am your master.
When I’m near, why would you run faster?
You’re just a useless, fickle, faithless hound.

10: Sonnets.

The most talked about, and probably the most written of the ‘form’ types of poetry. The English sonnet, the French Sonnet and so on through the varieties,  I have never actually completed one I was content to post. Why ?  Well history reveals that a sonnet is really a little song – little songs, like big songs, have music in them, and I could never get the music in a solitary sonnet I wrote. I got the mathematics right, I got the iams right, but - - - no music, meant no sonnet.  I have been writing, on and off, since about 1970, and still no sonnet.  One day?  Maybe?

I think that is enough for anyone to digest, so I will put up three poems here. They are [of course], my own creations.  One is free verse, one is traditional, and one is dialog. Just to show what variations are available without having any particular form. I hope you enjoy them.
!. Nature’s Blessings,  2, Someday Afternoon  & 3. A quiet Conversation

Free Verse
            When I first started to write free verse I was delighted, I could write anything in short lines and it was free verse. No! It’s not. I found that it was a different way of saying what I wanted to say, but it had to have the basic requirement of poetry anyway. It had to have impact, it had to say something, and it still had to be readable. Damn!  I think this one actually worked.

Nature’s Blessings.

One day I strolled into her domain
Besotted I was.
Neither practical, nor prudent,
She was an enchantress,
Teasing me with secret perfumes
And half hidden charms;
Who was I to hold back?
Who would want to when teased
With delicate morsels so rare, so fragile,
And so beautiful?
I was enchanted by the whispered thoughts
I heard among the trees;
The tantalising reflections almost seen on the water,
And the hint of fragrances on the air.
Time has gone by, much time,
But I am blessed.

As you may have guessed by now, I am a lover of Nature, whatever it may be at the time, and wherever I may be.

This poem rhymes to no particular scheme, and was written when I lived on the bank of the river. This river is not your normal river with water and boats and all that, it is mostly a dry river bed, with trickles of water connecting ponds where there is a hole. This same river can rise more than 20 feet in 24 hours when the rainfall is right. However that particular afternoon the rains had stayed away.

Someday Afternoon

Some days I go down the river,
Take the dogs along for a run,
There’s no water close to our home
So we walk downstream just for fun.

There’s a pool down here with water,
enough for our Penny to swim,
Peter doesn’t care much for that stuff,
Water’s for drinking, says him.

Taff likes his bath in a bath-tub,
Not swimming around in a pool,
So Pete and Taff go off in the bush,
Sniffing around in the cool.

I lie back, relaxed on the bank
And the whole world passes me by,
Jus lying there, at peace with it all,
My eyes look up to the sky.

There are shapes up there in the heavens
That change as the air currents flow;
I think of things the clouds could be
And imagine the shapes that I know.

A mermaid up there has long flowing hair,
She’s fixed to the prow of a boat,
Clouds swirl around- I see something rare,
An old castle complete with its moat.

A volcano comes next- no a mushroom;
As I watch an old anvil appears,
My Dad was, at one time, a blacksmith,
He worked with an anvil for years.

Dogs bark and distract my attention
So I turn and what do I find?
There’s a Wallaby crossing the river,
Dogs running along well behind.

Pete and Taff are not hunters
But really enjoy giving chase,
If they got close to their quarry
I’m sure they’d give up the race
Two white cockatoos fly around
With their raucous cries so loud,
A flock of galahs add to the din
And I look back up to the clouds
And sure enough – away up there,
Two eagles are soaring so high;
The cockies were warning everything
That the eagles were coming by.

The shadows are now getting longer,
It’s quite cool just lying here;
So maybe it’s time to go to my home
For warmth and waiting good cheer.

Conversation poem [traditional]

I like to listen to other people talking and try to emulate some conversations in poetry. One does have to be careful though, one would not like to upset anyone at all. I lived on a farm and the nearest shop was in a little town of about 450 people; one store, one farmers supply place, one garage cum service station, two pubs and a few houses. The following conversation could have happened on the footpath outside the store. It is written using the basic of poetic principles rhyme and rhythm. I won’t say it’s perfect, but it was fun to write. Farmers in that area had cattle, sheep, and grain crops, and it was a year when the rain went elsewhere.

Quiet Conversation

“How’re ya goin Jack? Got your ploughing done?”

“It’s on the way right now mate, thank God for me older son.”

“I sacked my boy John, from ploughing late at night,
He drove the tractor in the dam, give us all a fright.
Took two days to git it out, covered in mud an shit,
I told him to get some sleep, stupid bloody twit.
He’s on the town all the time, gets home at half past one,
No wonder he falls asleep when the ploughin’s goin on.”

“Forecast ain’t real hopeful, bout us getting real good rain,
bit if rain comes you can bet, grain price’ll fall again.”

Stone the crows, that’s the truth, I doan know what I’ll do,
If my missus don’t get a break, I reckon she’ll shoot through.”

“This bloody drought has got us all where it hurts the most,
I’m getting eat out of house and home, soon I’ll be a ghost.”

“There just ain’t the money, like it used to be,
So much for people sayin this country’s bloody free.”

“Well, I better get the stuff the missus wants at home,
I better not forget or else she’ll feed me damn dog bones.”

“I had ta put me shoppin on the slate today,
I hope I get a decent quid for all that wool I sent away.”

“Ya makes nothing at the sales, what with the fees ya gotta pay,
Auctioneer’s the only one what makes a quid that way.”

“Time we had a good year, after seven years of drought,
Young Tom ain’t seen a crop since he’s been getting about.”

“One day the rain’ll come, and we get a crop to grow,
We might even make a quid, ya never bloody know.”

“Well, I s’pose I better go and get the kids from school,
Save the bus a bit of distance and elp that driver keep his cool.”

“Been nice ta have a yarn, mate, you give me hopes a boost,
Now I’m goin home to get our dinner off the roost.”

The world won't collapse if you make an occasional error in your writing.  [ Mine didn't ]
Enjoy it, whatever it brings, and enjoy the contacts you make as you write on WDC.

Regards - Bob

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