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Understanding Poetry: The Pantoum

Understanding Poetry: The Pantoum

Originated from Malaysia as typical rhyming couplets, the pantoum has developed into a concrete form with a series of quatrains (four lined stanzas) and specific rhyme scheme for that quatrain. The number of lines can be of any length, but each series has the 2nd and 4th lines of each stanza serve as the 1st and 3rd line of the next stanza. This creates continuous refrains throughout the entire poem. Rhyme scheme of ABAB BCBC CDCD DEDE EFEF FGFG and so on are used, ending with ZAZA. The pantoum flourished in the 19th century with both French and British writers.

First Stanza
Line One (A)
Line Two (B) first refrain
Line Three (A)
Line Four (B) second refrain

Second Stanza
Line 5 (B) repeat the first refrain here.
Line 6 (C)
Line 7 (B) repeat second refrain here.
Line 8

A perfect example of a pantoum can be found at Carolyn Kizer "A Parents Pantoum"

- brr


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