No one knows who invented the Limerick, but the name suggests it originated in the Irish city of the same name. English poet Edward Lear popularized the form in the 19th century and is largely responsible for the form’s continued popularity. Limericks are sometimes nonsensical, sometimes set up like jokes with a punchline, and should always inspire a chuckle.
Key Features of the Limerick
Content: Humorous, sometimes raunchy, sometimes aimed at a celebrity or public figure
Form: Consists of five lines
Syllables: Syllables are not usually strictly counted, but line length pattern goes: long, long, short, short, long.
The Ae Freislighe (pronounced ‘ay fresh-lee’) is a Celtic form which you’ll find somewhat adapted in English. These adaptations still strive to match the musicality of the original language by including complex patterns of rhyme and alliteration.
Key Features of the Ae Freislighe
Content: Traditionally contains internal patterns of alliteration to create a musical effect
Form: Made up of any number of quatrains
Rhyme: Features a triple-rhyme in lines 1 and 3, and a double-rhyme in lines 2 and 4 (see example)
Syllables: Seven syllables per line
Ending: Usually ends with the same word or line with which the poem begins (in Celtic poetry, this is called a dunadh)
Tennessee, by Robert Lee Brewer
Do you recall Tennessee & all that late night kissing, or is it a memory once yours that’s now gone missing?
Perhaps there’s some video for both of us to review & retire to Ohio with vows that we will renew.
An Original Poem
To find the life underneath Sometimes it takes a cutting A folding back of the sheath To see the green life budding
We learned in our explorations of the Kyrielle [Week 13], Villanelle [Week 23] and Terzanelle [Week 32] that the French love their repeating refrains. But the Pantoum is a French adaptation of a form that is Malaysian in origin.
Key Features of the Pantoum Poem
Form: composed of any number of quatrains
Refrain: The second and fourth lines of one stanza repeat as the first and third lines of the next. Some variation is allowed to add interest.
Of all the forms we’ve covered so far, the Concrete Poem is unique in its emphasis on the physical form—the actual shape of the words—along with the meaning. Poetry meets typography meets graphic design in this experimental, visually inventive form.
Jumblers and scrabblers are well-versed in the art of the anagram, a technique that uses the shuffling of a given selection of letters to find new words. Anagrams can be a lot of fun, so it’s no surprise they are used in many popular word games and puzzles.
Key Features of the Anagrammatic Poem
Content: Always titled, and only letters featured in the title can be used
Form: The anagrammatic method can be combined with existing poetic forms (such as the haiku, sonnet, etc.) or used to create new ones.
The Katauta is a short romantic poem addressed to a lover and is similar to other Japanese forms such as the haiku, somonka, and sedoka. A katauta asks a question, but since the question remains unanswered, it’s sometimes considered more of a half-poem.
Form: A short three-line poem, typically untitled Content: Addressed to a lover and asks a question Syllable Count: usually 5-7-7, but sometimes 5-7-5