Quatrains


Quatrains are a form of Irish poetry, written with four verses to a line.  They combine a fixed line length with a polysyllabic rhyming scheme.  I have recently finished my first quatrain, and I don’t mind telling you that it has taken me two months to write.

I chose to write a quatrain as part of a ritual to bind a tree to my tribe.  It was the goddess Sianon who told me to do this and guided me to our tree, which is an ash tree.

I had downloaded an article from the net a while back on writing quatrains and since Sianon is an Irish deity I thought it would be appropriate to write a quatrain.

My quatrain is only one verse (more would have taken far too long and if you’re new to a thing it’s best to keep it simple) but it is the most powerful thing I have written to date.

The Irish poets and druids could curse people with poetry; making satires against people they did not like.  There is a form in the texts called “Glám Diceann” and this form would probably have used quatrains. The Glám Diceann is a curse declaimed by a poet when standing on one leg, closing one eye and extending one arm.  This form of poetry was a potent curse which could blister an opponent’s face or lose him his life.  In addition, a victim of Glám Diceann would be shunned by the community.

I’ve used a form of quatrain called “Ae Freslighe” in which all the lines have seven syllables.  The first and the third verses must rhyme and have at the end of their lines a word which is the length of three syllables.  The second and fourth lines must also rhyme and have at the end of their lines a word which is the length of two syllables.  On top of this the first word in the poem must also be the last word of the poem.

This is why it took me two months to write four lines of poetry.  I’ve had experience writing haikus and my non-ritualistic and non-magic poetry is better when it’s in a constrained form, so that did not give me much trouble.  It was the rhymes that I found very difficult to write as I’m not used to rhymes.

I was introduced to rhyming when I started writing spells and now I’m pretty comfortable rhyming with monosyllabic words, but if it’s more than one syllable I find it difficult.  But just because something’s difficult doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done.  Sometimes the rewards are well worth the trouble gone to to do it.

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