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Tetractys Poetry Writing Workshop

Define
The tetractys, made famous by Pythagoras, was created into a modern-day poetic form by Ray Stebbings. A tetractys should express a complete thought, profound, witty or wise using 20 syllables. There is no limit to the number of verses. Rhyming is optional.
Explaination

A Tetractys' structure is:

 Line 1 has 1 syllable
 Line 2 has 2 syllables
 Line 3 has 3 syllables
 Line 4 has 4 syllables
 Line 5 has 10 syllables

Tip

Why not try a double tetractys, which can be written in two ways. Option one's structure is:

 Line 1 has 1 syllable
 Line 2 has 2 syllables
 Line 3 has 3 syllables
 Line 4 has 4 syllables
 Line 5 has 10 syllable
 Line 6 has 10 syllable
 Line 7 has 4 syllables
 Line 8 has 3 syllables
 Line 9 has 2 syllables
 Line 10 has 1 syllables

Alternatively, you can write your double tetractysin the following way:

 Line 1 has 10 syllables
 Line 2 has 4 syllables
 Line 3 has 3 syllables
 Line 4 has 2 syllables
 Line 5 has 1 syllable
 Line 6 has 1 syllable
 Line 7 has 2 syllables
 Line 8 has 3 syllables
 Line 9 has 4 syllables
 Line 10 has 10 syllables

Reversed Tetractys:

 Line 1 has 10 syllables
 Line 2 has 4 syllables
 Line 3 has 3 syllables
  Line 4 has 2 syllables
 Line 5 has 1 syllables

Examples

Here is an example of a Tetractys:

It's
Better
To love than
To hate and it's
Better still to agree with what she says.


Here is an example of a Double Tetractys by Ray Stebbings:

Campanile
Life
depends
on a strand
as frail as fine
as a migrating spider's silken line.
As windblown, random, as subject to chance,
our short days drift -
on thin threads
helpless
dance.


Here is another example of a Double Tetractys by Ray Stebbings:

Epitaph for Everyman
He lived a long life filled with good intent
but often found
his meanings
sadly
bent.
With misconceptions hapless lives are fraught,
what others hear
so seldom
matches
thought.


An example of a reversed Tetractys:

How Ironic
Young, free and single, was quite hard to be,
If only we
Knew then what
We know
Now.

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