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Rated: E · Bulletin · How-To/Advice · #866936
Learn the tetractys poetry form!
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Writers' Circle Newsletter

Issue #135: July 12th, 2004

(To read back issues of the Writers’ Circle Newsletter, see "WC Newsletter Back Issues.)

TETRACTYS: The number of the universe or a new poetry form?

Well, it’s a little of both! In fact, the tetractys is found in religion, numerology, the occult, music and more.

By him (Pythagoras) who revealed the Tetractys, Fountain of Eternal Nature, I speak the truth. –Pythagorean Oath.


Teh track tiss (rhymes with practice)

BRIEF HISTORY - All is number

In 1999, a retired London lecturer and poet, Ray Stebbing, invented the form after searching through the Oxford English Dictionary. He said that Euclid - 300 BC - named the number series (1, 2, 3, 4) a tetractys, but upon further research I found that Pythagoras – 575 BC – 495 BC - (and perhaps even earlier in Babylonia) felt numbers explained the ways of the universe. For the Pythagoreans, the number ten represented the universe and was named, tetractys.


.          .

.          .          .

.          .          .          .

A Tetractys


*Five lines (or multiples of five lines) with a syllabic count of:


Subsequent stanzas invert the count before it. (Example of a double: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10. 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. Example of a triple: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10. 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, etc.)

*Using a word that has an important effect to the overall piece in the single syllable line(s).

*Line breaks that don’t break the flow of the poem.

COULD HAVES or What's The Poet's Choice In All This?!

Everything else! Rhyme, alliterate, create a metaphor or choose none of the above.

Think haiku/senryu when you try this form. Say something significant in a small amount of words. Remember, there are only twenty syllables if you do a single tetractys.

Final thoughts: Based on the source of this form (Pythagorean), I suggest we take this even further.

The number one represented: reason or unity.

Number two symbolized: opinion or diversity.

The number three stood for: harmony.

Number four symbolized: justice and retribution.

The number ten represented: the universe.

Lets take the Tetractys to the next level:
I suggest taking reason, unity, harmony, justice or retribution as theme’s for your poem and using line ten to sum up or showing how the rest fits in or affects the universe.


 Smile – A Tetractys  [E]
My first stab at the Tetractys form.
by RedWritingHood♡WDC


Next week’s newsletter will be brought to you by the letter J, several people, born under the sign of Leo, cheering and the wonderfully witty Nikola .

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Featured Poetry From Members:

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by A Guest Visitor

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by A Guest Visitor

 The Pretty Pebble  [E]
Poetry for children
by Vivian

A place for just about everything  [E]
Written for Final Round 1 of Feb. 2004 SLAM. Twisted proverbs. (prose poem)
by ElaineElaine

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by A Guest Visitor

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Featured Tetractyses From Non-Members:

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Leaves in Springtime  [E]
I am impatient for the winter to end. Open those buds and show me spring.
by Shaara voted

 Thirsty Leaves  [E]
Poetry Week... Write a tetractys poetry form of unfolding leaves.
by Cubby

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by A Guest Visitor

 Pained  [E]
A Stone "Tetractys" - An ode to Stones
by Karen Bristow

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Writing Prompt:

Try the tetractys or, if you've tried one already, try my version mentioned above.

Please feel free to submit your results to this prompt here: "Invalid Item

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Featured Quote

"Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted." -Source Unknown - submitted by Leona

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Recommended Reading, Groups and Forums:

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by A Guest Visitor

A Poet's Tool Box  [E]
Tools for the trade.
by RedWritingHood♡WDC

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by A Guest Visitor

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by A Guest Visitor

AND check this out!

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You are invited to submit suggestions to the Writers' Circle editors. To submit an item for consideration in the WC newsletter:

 WC Newsletter Feedback and Submissions  [E]
WC newsletter submission, a cheer or jeer, or just want to join the group? Find it here!
by RedWritingHood♡WDC

All comments about this and any WC newsletter are welcome!

Tell your friends about our newsletter! They can sign up through the link above. Feel free to forward this newsletter, in it's entirety, to your friends.

Issue #135
Edited by: RedWritingHood♡WDC

© Copyright 2004 RedWritingHood♡WDC (redridinghoo at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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