10-line Poem Challenge #2: Quinnette

Decastich. Not your everyday word overheard in the checkout line at Walmart on a typical Tuesday afternoon. Do you know what it is? If you read my post last Friday, you may remember. It’s the technical term for a 10-line poem. Last week we began a study of 35 decastich poems, starting with the San Hsien.

Today we have another form, the Quinnette.

The Quinnette is a:

  • Decastich made of 2 quintains.
  • Created by Ethelyn Miller Hartwych as a teaching tool or writing exercise.
  • Designed for the elfin or humorous, or for nature themes.
  • Each line is in trochaic tetrameter except ll. 3 & 8, which are in trochaic trimeter.
  • Rhyme scheme: aabaa ccbcc


Below are two samples for you. The first one is rather nonsensical. I was sitting in a large room, watching people go by and paying particular attention to their shoes. Of course, everything beyond the first line is fantasy, but that was the fun of it. The second sample is on the theme of nature, less funny but just as fun to write.

Vandals’ Sandals

I have seen such lovely sandals,
Worn, of course, by thieves and vandals,
Skipping as they go;
For their purses have fine handles
And they love to stir up scandals.

Whether they be few or many,
Found in every nook and cranny,
Cares they never know.
They will never lack a penny—
Burgle when they haven’t any.

© 2017 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


All along the winding trail
Misty sunlight hangs its veil
On the boughs of trees.
Catch a startled deer turn tail;
Call her back to no avail.

Flowers cheer with colors gay;
Pause, survey their bright bouquet.
Watch the work of bees.
Linger here til sun’s last ray,
Then come again another day.

© 2017 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


“Extra Credit”

Notice in “Meander” I added an extra unstressed syllable at the beginning of line 10 (“Then”). I don’t believe it hurts the structure of the poem at all to aid the flow of thought. If you disagree, you may be more strict with your own writing. My college professor taught us that the occasional break from the meter adds interest to the poem and keeps it from sounding too sing-songy. But there is another factor to consider here. Because all my endings are masculine (ending on a stressed syllable), the addition of the unstressed syllable at the beginning of the final line makes the entire line appear to be iambic when it actually should be trochaic. If the line is interpreted as iambic, I suppose that’s okay. However, if I were writing it for a contest or a class, I would leave “then” out; but for myself, I prefer to keep it there. I hope this explanation helps.

By the way, if you would like to know more about the nuts and bolts of poetry, let me know in the comments below, and I’ll address that too. I love to teach, and I’ll be happy to help you, even if only one person cares to know more.

Dig Deeper

To find more samples and to learn from those who taught me, check out these sites. All links open in a separate tab so you can easily find your way back here.

Poet’s Collective ~ The forms on this website are not organized in alphabetical order, but he does have at least one sample poem for each form, he even has tags for rhyme scheme. He also has a visual template for every form so you can see the rhyme scheme and stress patterns, as applicable. That is extremely helpful.

Sol Magazine ~ This resource covers much more than just 10-line poems.

“Metric Forms from Pathways for the Poet” ~ This is an outline of information from Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg (1977), a book for and by educators. This resource also includes more than just 10-line poems, but it helped to fill in the gaps where my other sources were a bit scanty with their information.

Shadow Poetry ~ This is my favorite resource for learning about poetic forms (and not just the decastich), but I have discovered that there is ever so much more to learn than what I can find here. This is, however, a very good place to start.


It’s Your Turn!

Now it’s time for you to write a San Hsien. Go ahead and strum those strings! Then when you are ready, share your masterpiece with the rest of us.

Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…

  1. Write your blog post.
  2. Optional: Include the tag Quinnette Challenge or 10-line Poem Challenge
  3. Include a link to this post in your post so I can find you.
  4. Publish your post.

6 Replies to “10-line Poem Challenge #2: Quinnette”

    1. Lol. Rhythm (i.e. sing-songy) is good, but the little trip here and there makes it interesting. On the other hand, one of my own older poems (not a decastich) I’ve discovered needs to go back to the draft table because the rhythm has so much variety, I can’t tell what the dominant foot is supposed to be, or if there is one at all. Ouch!
      You asked for baby steps, and I’m happy to oblige. 🙂


    1. A trochee is a poetic foot with 2 syllables, where the first one is stressed, as in the words “O-range,” or “NA-vel.” Tetrameter and trimeter refer to the number of feet in the line. Hence, trochaic tetrameter is a line of 4 trochees, or 8 syllables; and trochaic trimeter is a line of 3 trochees, or 6 syllables. I hope this helps.


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