Glossary of Poetic Terms
- The dominant metrical system in Classical Greek and Italian poetry, in which the rhythm depends not on the number of stresses, but on the length of time it takes to utter a line. That duration depends on whether a syllable is long or short—a distinction that is harder to hear in English pronunciation. Edmund Spenser attempted to adapt quantitative meter to English in his poem “Iambicum Trimetrum.”
A four-line stanza, rhyming
-ABAC or ABCB (known as unbounded or ballad quatrain), as in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
-AABB (a double couplet); see A.E. Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young.”
-ABAB (known as interlaced, alternate, or heroic), as in Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” or “Sadie and Maud” by Gwendolyn Brooks.
-ABBA (known as envelope or enclosed), as in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” or John Ciardi’s “Most Like an Arch This Marriage.”
-AABA, the stanza of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
Browse poems with quatrains.