Poetry – The Pantoum

In my quest to learn more about poetry I have attempted the Pantoum. This particular form, apparently, has its origins in Malay. As in many types of poetry there are specific rules or traditions to follow, which make them distinct, and therefore requires a careful attention when constructing the verses.

A traditional Pantoum has the following rules.

There is no specific length to the poem, therefore it can have as many verses as the writer wants.

Each stanza or verse has four lines.

The rhyming scheme is abab, bcbc, cdcd etc.

The second line of each verse becomes the first line of the next verse.

The fourth line of each verse also becomes the third line of the next verse.

The first line of the poem is also the last line.

Usually, although not fixed, the Pantoum has eight syllables in each line.

Because of the repetition of the lines, the poem is full of haunting echoes with the ending returning to the beginning. This form of poetry suits subjects such as obsession, searching and finding or comparing the past with the present.

My attempt is ‘The Wishing Well’.

Charing Cross Glasgow

Charing Cross Glasgow

 

The Wishing Well.

While walking by to work each day

I pass a dried up wishing well

Where people drop in coins to pray

They make a wish or cast a spell

 

I pass a dried up wishing well

Where they are building new homes

They made a wish or cast a spell

When they dug out the children’s bones

 

Where they are building up new homes

There are now pipes of fresh water

Where they dug out the children’s bones

The remains from a Dickensian era

 

There are now pipes of fresh water

And a dry well built of old stones

The remains from a Dickensian era

The brass plaque telling of the bones

 

And a dry well built of old stones

Where I stop for a moment to read

The brass plaque telling of the bones

And of a history I should heed

 

Where I stop for a moment to read

I drop a coin to wish and pray

And of a history I must heed

While walking by to work each day.

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7 responses to “Poetry – The Pantoum

  1. Lovely piece that bridges the past and present so wonderfully.

    Like

  2. Very enjoyable! Thanks for telling us about these different kinds of poetry.

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  3. Great info! I know nothing about poetry ‘rules’ so it’s nice to get a little edum-acated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely atmosphere to this James – well done!

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    • We look back at the past, for instance the workhouses from the Victorian period and wider how they survived. Do you think someone in the future will look back at us and laugh at our dependence on the motor car!

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