Thursday, June 9, 2016

Poetic Form - Interlocking Rubaiyat

A centuries-old poetic form, the interlocking rubaiyat is a fairly straightforward form used by Robert Frost and others.


A number of poetic forms exist. Probably the most popular forms - at least seen frequently in the work of poets and in songs (including hymns) are pairs of rhyming lines, presented as ABAB or AABB.

Joyce Kilmer's "Trees" poem (first two stanzas)
I think that I shall never see (A)
A poem lovely as a tree. (A)
A tree whose hungry mouth is press (B)
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; (B)

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound (A)
That saved a wretch like me (B)
I once was lost, but now I'm found (A)
Was blind but now I see. (B).

The Rubaiyat

I subscribe to Writer's Digest magazine. A recurring column is "Poetic Asides," written by Robert Lee Brewer. The poetic form featured in the May/June 2016 issue was the interlocking rubaiyat.

The general rules are:
  • Quatrains (4-lines) following an AABA rhyming pattern
  • Each successive stanza uses the unrhymed (e.g., B) for the rhyme in that stanza. The flow of a three stanza poem would be AABA, BBCB, CCDC or CCCC. In the last stanza, the third line can remain unrhymed or rhyme with the other lines.
  • The meter is usually tetrameter or pentameter.

Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" follows the interlocking rubaiyat structure.

Whose woods these are I think I know. (A)
His house is in the village though; (A)
He will not see me stopping here (B)
To watch his woods fill up with snow. (A)  

My little horse must think it queer (B)
To stop without a farmhouse near (B)
Between the woods and frozen lake (C)
The darkest evening of the year. (B)

He gives his harness bells a shake (C)
To ask if there is some mistake. (C)
The only other sound’s the sweep (D)
Of easy wind and downy flake. (C)

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, (D)  
But I have promises to keep, (D)
And miles to go before I sleep, (D)
And miles to go before I sleep. (D)

Write your own poem

I encourage you to take a few minutes and write an interlocking rubaiyat. If you do, copy it into the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment