Nick Gordon

Love needs its hour in the sun
Or like a flower it will fade.
But happiness depends upon
The proper mix of light and shade.

Or like a flower it will fade
Into the wall of unpicked dreams.
The proper mix of light and shade
Takes more courage than it seems.

Into the wall of unpicked dreams
Love fades, afraid to speak. This poem
Takes more courage than it seems.
You’re fading, too, when you come home.

Love fades, afraid to speak this poem.
But happiness depends upon
Your fading, too. When you come home,
Love needs its hour in the sun.

What is this called ? what are the rules?
Hello Anita

This is a 'pantoum'. The 2nd and 4th lines of each stanza become the 1st and 3rd lines of the next. Then in the last stanza, you repeat the 1st and 3rd lines of the first stanza. So every line appears twice (you're allowed to vary the meaning a little, as Nick Gordon does here), i.e.

A1
B1
A2
B2

B1
C1
B2
C2

C1
D1
C2
D2

D1
A2
D2
A1

I can't think of any good examples in English; but this poem by Charles Baudelaire is quite a famous French pantoum:


Harmonie du Soir
Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s'évapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!

Chaque fleur s'évapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu'on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.

Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu'on afflige,
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige.

Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige...
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!



MrP
Does the words have to rhyme too? or can it be free verse?
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Mr.P do u think 'by the park ' is written by this rule? Though, I have added more lines... is that permissible or should it be only four stanzas?
can 'when tears came by' be considered a pantoum?
Hello Anita

Yes, I think they could be considered pantoums! I don't think it matters if it's longer than 4 stanzas – it's meant to be a 'difficult' form, and making it longer certainly doesn't make it easier.

It has an interesting effect, doesn't it? I think I read somewhere that the pantoum is based on a Malaysian form, but I may have misremembered.

(To answer your first question: it's usual for the poem to rhyme (ABAB, BCBC, etc), but I don't see why an unrhymed version shouldn't be called a pantoum. I would just call it an 'unrhymed pantoum'.)

The difficult part is to make the lines fit grammatically in each appearance. So ambiguity ('you're/your') is useful. The structure does mean that the grammar tends to be quite simple, though – declarative statements, etc.

How do you like it, as a form?

MrP
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I liked it very much and so have been trying to write some in this style , tho like u said, its a little difficult and an effort has to be made.
MrPedanticIt has an interesting effect, doesn't it? I think I read somewhere that the pantoum is based on a Malaysian form, but I may have misremembered. (To answer your first question: it's usual for the poem to rhyme (ABAB, BCBC, etc), but I don't see why an unrhymed version shouldn't be called a pantoum. I would just call it an 'unrhymed pantoum'.)

Well, in Indonesia (which shares the same roots as Malaysia, anyway), we have "pantun", a poem with 4 lines and must have the ABAB rhyme.