How to Write a Quatrain Poem

Author Theresa Sneed

The quatrain poem is a group of quatrains strung together. It is quite basic and one of the simplest forms of poetry to write – it also is one of the most expressive. Here are the rules – a simple quatrain has four lines and follows a rhyming scheme or pattern usually identified by ABCD, each letter representing a particular sound found in the last word of each line. For example in my quatrain below, I am following the ABAB pattern with the last word of line one (despair) and the last word of line three (flair) rhyming (we’ll call them the “A” group) and the last word of line two (so) and the last word of line four (know) rhyming (we’ll call them the “B” group) – hence the rhyming pattern despair, so, flair, know or ABAB. A quatrain does not have to follow ABAB, it can follow any combination AABB, AAAA, AABA, ABBA, ABBB, or AAAB.

You can keep your quatrain simple with just those four lines, or you can repeat the pattern and add four more lines, and then another four, and so on, until you have finished saying exactly what you want to express in your poem. When you have put more than one quatrain together, you have created a quatrain poem.

Here are the simple steps to creating a quatrain:

Step One: Choose a Topic

Ask yourself, “What do I feel like expressing today?” If you’re a fan of facebook, that sounds a lot like what they ask you each morning – how do you feel? What are you thinking? Now, let’s put that into a quatrain poem.

I find it helpful to brainstorm first lines as topics, and today, here are the first lines that came to my mind:

What will I make of this day?

When will I stop thinking of myself first?

Who do I love?

Why am I angry?

What do I have to be grateful for?

Why can’t I overcome?

Seize the day.

Step Two: Brainstorm About Your Topic

I chose the topic, “What will I make of this day?” And as I began to brainstorm, these are some of my first thoughts:

“As the sun bathes …” but I had to stop right there, because the sun was not shining and I could see that even as the sun rose, it was hidden behind thick clouds.

“What will I choose …” Well, yes, a theme of what I would choose on a dreary day might be okay, but maybe not making it evident at first.

“Looks like another dreary day overcast and gloomy …” Now my ideas are fine-tuning, and I can see promise in going down this vein of thought. I can still keep the overriding idea of what will I choose, and what will I make of this day, but I think I will start out ‘gloomy’.

“I wish I could say as I stare out my window …” Um, too vague.

“That this is the dawning of a bright new day …” Not quite there yet.

“But the sun …” Here, I can see that I’m drawn back to the gloomy aspect of the sun not shining, so … and now that I’ve found what I want to write about, it’s time for:

Step Three: Start Writing

Here is my quatrain taken from the brainstorming session above:

oh dreary day of gloom and despair

why do you torment me so?

where is thy shining garment so fair?

where is thy light that I know?

Okay, so I can see that this quatrain has taken on a life of its own and I will continue to brainstorm in the same fashion until I have finished expressing my true thought – that my choices are not determined by how gloomy it is outside, but rather by how gloomy it is inside.

So here is my finished quatrain poem ~ written especially for you! Btw~ I took that bleak picture of a tree in my front yard 😉



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About Theresa Sneed ~ Author

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