Virelai Post-Moderne

This is a silly name for a really quite sensible form I invented myself. The idea is simple: to have a poem's rhyming scheme out of phase with its metrical pattern. Clear as mud? Try an example:

The Platypus (from "An Australian Bestiary")
A mammal with a duck-like beak!
At first the scientists all thought
It was a fraud.
But yes, itís real. It swims, it crawls,
It thrives, despite the cries of ďFreak!Ē
Good on yer, sport!
Itís those who mock it that are flawed. 
To me, their attitude appals.
I think itís chic.
Why donít they love it as they ought?
The platypus we should applaud.
Long live oddballs!

Here the metrical pattern repeats every 3 lines, and the rhymes repeat every 4 lines. The poem therefore needs 3x4=12 lines for everything to come out even.

Many variations on this are possible. I have written VPMs with 4x5=20 lines, and a metrical pattern similar to the above (mutatis mutandis). It is essential to the form that not all lines should be the same length; this ensures that the metrical pattern is clear, and enables the rhyming to be blatantly out of phase with it. It is also desirable for the two cycle lengths to be co-prime i.e. not to have any common factors e.g. a 6-line metrical pattern with a 4-line rhyming cycle would come out even after only 12 lines, which would surely be less satisfying.

A somewhat similar form - though lacking the appealing skewness of the VPM - is rimas dissolutas.

Mike Reeves-McMillan has developed a form he calls the virelai postmoderne ni tanka terza rima stanza schema, or Christozoic ballade for short. See my links page.

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© Bob Newman 2004, 2005. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 31/07/2005