Pantoum – Cyclical Verse

Old Wheel 

Soft, soft, collapse, relax
Don’t want to take care of anyone
Going to crumble in a heap
Let my muscles melt and fall

Don’t want to take care of anyone
I’m not gonna hold it together
Let my muscles melt and fall
Want to write, read and dream

I’m not gonna hold it together
Walk on walls, window shop and lounge
Want to write, read and dream
It’ll be alright

Walk on walls, window shop and lounge
Going to crumble in a heap
It’ll be alright
Soft, soft, collapse, relax

Tired Mother pantoum, Roshnii Rose (2013)

Several years ago, in a writing group, I was introduced to this poetic form, the Pantoum. I have since shared it with writers young and old, many of whom have enjoyed playing with its cyclical form to yield satisfying results.

Originally from the Malay language, this ancient verse form consists of four stanzas or four lines each following a pattern of repetition as follows:

Stanza 1
A
B
C
D

Stanza 2
B
E
D
F

Stanza 3
E
G
F
H

Stanza 4
G
C
H
A

All you need to do is write 8 lines of poetry, letter them A-H and then arrange them in this order. Voila! You have a pantoum.

A simple way of creating your 8 lines, and my preferred method, is to write a stream of consciousness on a particular theme, then lift your favourite 8 phrases from it and see how they fit together when you lay them out as a pantoum. You may also like to experiment with rhyme.

Written your own pantoum? Please share it in the comments…