Non-English syllable-counters

Syllable-counting verse forms have arisen in languages other than Japanese and English. Some of those I have encountered are listed on this page. See also my links page for a site devoted to a Lithian form called the bogato.

puSlogh vagh * Wayra

puSlogh vagh

This is a Klingon verse form, which as far as I know has never been attempted in English before. A puSlogh vagh is a 5-line verse with the same number of syllables in each line. That number of syllables may be as few as 4 or as many as 10, at the discretion of the poet. Certain syllable positions with in each line are designated strongholds.  There must be at least 2 strongholds, although there can be more. Their positions within the line are also at the poet's discretion. Each line uses a different key vowel, and that key vowel must appear in every stronghold position in that line. (It is allowed to appear elsewhere as well.) Here's an example:

Man is more bad than mad -
Not that to rob is wrong!
Help yourself; get the best;
Sin like your kith and kin.
Tough guys with guns have fun!

Here there are 6 syllables per line, with the strongholds in syllables 1, 4 and 6. The key vowels for the 5 lines are A, O, E, I and U respectively. The third line happens to also have its key vowel E in syllable 3; that's fine.

The Klingon language appears to have only 5 vowel sounds. English of course has rather more, even though there are only 5 letters of the alphabet that are normally considered to be vowels. The Klingon spirit essential to this verse form is best preserved by using only the 5 short vowels of English i.e. those of the words bag/beg/big/bog/bug. The order in which the 5 key vowels appear is up to the poet. It is important to go by the sound rather than the spelling - so in the above example a fourth line of "Sin, since your women will!" would have been acceptable, the first vowel of "women" being pronounced as an I. 

For an excellent article on the puSlogh vagh and related aspects of Klingon culture, see my links page.


The wayra is a popular South American verse form, with syllable counts 5, 7, 7, 6, 8. The last 4 lines are strangely similar to a song that luc bat, though without the "climbing rhyme".

The flavour of the wayra is best conveyed by an example in the original Quechua:

Ch'uuta mana
Mihuyta atinichu;
Chayqa onqochiwanmi.
Allichu astawan
T'antaykita apumaway.

To translate would be crass in the extreme.

Back to Verse Forms home page. 

NB All verse forms appearing on other pages of this site are perfectly genuine.

Bob Newman 2005. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 10/07/2005