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Errantry Workshop

Definition

This poem style was created by J.R.R. Tolkien (who wrote The Hobbit). It's most often used to describe long lists of things.

When Tolkien did it, he was describing an adventure to different lands so described the ship, the journey and the adventures. It has also been used in the song ‘Major-General's Song’ to describe a person. It has a fun, bouncy style and is often used to tell cheery, light or silly stories.

Level – Difficult

Explaination

The way this works is the first line ends with the first rhyme sound (let's call it rhyme ‘A’).
The second line then has that ‘A’ rhyme in the middle and ends with a sound we will call rhyme ‘B’.
The third line ends with a new rhyme ‘C’
The fourth line has ‘C’ in the middle and ends with ‘B’ again.

If that's a bit tricky think of it like this (I find colours help).

LINE 1 ENDS A
LINE 2 MIDDLE A ENDS B
LINE 3 ENDS C
LINE 4 MIDDLE C ENDS B

Examples

Here is an example from Tolkien's poem Errantry where it was first used:

‘There was a merry passenger,
A messenger a mariner:
He built a gilded gondola
To wander in and had in her
A load of yellow oranges
And porridge for his provender;
He perfumed her with marjoram,
And cardamom and lavender.’

This style of poem can be very tricky (Tolkien only tried it once!) so it's quite a good idea to keep it short if you can but to think lots about the story you want to tell as well as the descriptions. Let's try something a little simpler.

‘There was a man with a magic spell,
He used it well, it helped him out.
He used all across the land,
To understand what beasts talked about.

He talked to animals, mainly cats,
He also talked to bats and bees.
He liked to visit them at home,
In the skies they roamed or in the trees.’

Your Turn

Finished? Why not submit your poem to Young Writers and we will enter it into one of our competitions.

Alternatively send your poem to:

Young Writers, Remus House, Coltsfoot Drive, Woodston, Peterborough, PE2 9BF or email it to info@youngwriters.co.uk

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