The Pantoum form in poetry

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heinzs
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The Pantoum form in poetry

Post by heinzs » Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:21 pm

The Pantoum
(plagiarized from some other website, I don't remember which one)

The pantoum was originally a 15th century Malayan form, brought to the West by Victor Hugo in 1829, taken up in England in the late 19th century. It caught on in America (mostly among the New York poets) in 1956, and on from there.

I am tempted to make a comment about America being four centuries behind the Malayans, but I think I'll forbear. At a party the other night, I mentioned that I was trying to get our writing workshop to do a renga -- a Japanese party game of writing linked haiku. Wes asked a Japanese student who was present if Japanese really played a party game of writing renga. With an amazed look, the young man said, "Sure -- two hundred years ago!" When I began joking about how American literature was just catching up to the Japanese (haiku is *very* popular over here) the young man commented that when he took creative writing in Japan, they were writing American forms -- from 200 years ago.

Back to the pantoum -- the design is simple:

Line 1
Line 2
Line 3
Line 4

Line 5 (repeat of line 2)
Line 6
Line 7 (repeat of line 4)
Line 8


and on ... The final stanza (if you want to get really fancy) then repeats the second and fourth lines of the previous stanza (as its first and third), and also repeats the third line of the first stanza, as its second line, and the first line of the first stanza as its fourth. So the first line of the poem is also the last.

Last stanza:
Line 2 of previous stanza
Line 3 of first stanza
Line 4 of previous stanza
Line 1 of first stanza

A challenging form to work so that it sounds natural, but when it does work it is hypnotic and musical in its effect. The pantoum's musical, hypnotic weaving is applicable to light, romantic themes; to lyrics about nature; or it can be used to make a strong theme more subtle and appealing. So if you want to try it, don't feel limited in theme or tone. Explore the variety of it. Have fun.
Last edited by heinzs on Sat Sep 01, 2007 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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burdick
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The Pantoum form in poetry

Post by burdick » Sun May 11, 2003 4:47 pm

Random thoughts of an old man.

Let us begin by starting here
To see and hear and feel, without fear.
Let us be like children I lively play…
Be interested in only this one day.

To see and hear and feel, without fear.
Greeting rain and sun with similar cheer.
Let us be like children in lively play
And neither past nor future will we crave.

Greeting rain and sun with similar cheer,
Let us begin by stopping here.
And neither past nor future will we crave!
Let us begin by stopping here.

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Medellia Juin

The Pantoum form in poetry

Post by Medellia Juin » Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:30 pm

Wow, that was by far more difficult than I'd imagined! I gave it a go, though it certainly isn't my best.

I knew him

I knew him
So long ago
His heart worn on his sleeve
We walked alone

So long ago
He touched my arm
We walked alone
Through London in the rain

He touched my arm
His heart worn on his sleeve
Through London in the rain
I knew him

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heinzs
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The Pantoum form in poetry

Post by heinzs » Thu Aug 07, 2003 11:14 pm

It is not among the easiest poetic forms to work with, Medellia. But it can have some amazing results!

Here is one by the poet from who I learned the form:

In Windows (a Pantoum) by Manicmuze

Old blankets clothes-pinned to curtain rods.
Shadows move.
The moon devours this house.
Mini-blinds blink at each other.

Shadows move.
I wonder if the children are crying.
Mini-blinds blink at each other.
Channels change, the recliner rocks.

I wonder if the children are crying.
Hitler has to have a world to tame.
Channels change, the recliner rocks.
A woman cleans up broken glass.

Hitler has to have a world to tame.
Someone has to lay down the law.
A woman cleans up broken glass.
No one saw anything.

Someone has to lay down the law.
The moon devoured this house.
No one saw anything.
Old blankets clothes-pinned to curtain rods.

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heinzs
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Post by heinzs » Fri May 07, 2004 8:57 am

It is a fun form, but can be frustrating to expectations. Always try something new... it keeps the mind working!

:cheers:
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