10-line Poem Challenge #8: Decuain


“Just Stopping By”

The Decuain (pronounced “deck-WAN”) was created by Shelley A. Cephas.

  • It is a decastich written in one single stanza on any subject.
  • This form feels a little more traditional than some of the others we have studied because all the lines are written in iambic pentameter.
  • There are only three rhyming sounds in the decuain, but you have three set choices for rhyme scheme.
  • The rhyme scheme of the first 8 lines is always ababbcbc.
  • The rhyme for lines 9-10 may be: aa, bb, or cc.
  • Additional stanzas may be added, but of course, then it would not be a decastich, so for the purpose of my exercise, I will write only single-stanza poems.


Below are two samples for you. In both of them I tried to evoke a strong emotion. The second poem was actually prompted by my son’s request to stop and take pictures of some old cars that we found overgrown in a field alongside the road. He was fascinated by these old cars and wondered what their stories must be, so much so that he was tempted to knock on the door of the house nearby and inquire about the cars. But we did have someplace to be, so I told him that his inquiry would have to wait for another day. I was thinking, though, as I wrote the poem, that my decastich could easily become the introduction to a longer poem in the which I elaborate on some of those old stories….

Stage Fright

He sat down rather timidly at first
And placed his nervous finger on the keys;
The time had come to play what he’d rehearsed,
But fear now cause his stubborn hands to freeze.
He must begin to play—his crowd appease,
So letting out a sigh, he closed his eyes,
And soon the music flowed from him with ease.
The audience sat still with rapt surprise
And drank the music as a man athirst,
The hearers and the player all immersed.

© 2017 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved

Just Stopping By

The other day while driving down the road,
I happened on some old cars in the brush;
And as I felt no hurry, there I slowed
To view these autos fine, though no more plush,
In sympathy for which I felt a hush.
I wonder what fine stories they could tell;
To listen to them, would they make me blush?
Recalling days gone by, which they knew well:
The silent witness of each episode,
Til resting here, their bodies to erode.

© 2017 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a poem for me is putting a title on it, and these two were no exception. I was not totally happy with “Stage Fright” as a title for the first poem, but I knew I wanted something short. I may well change the title later on. As for the second poem, “Just Stopping By” is actually a takeoff from Robert Frost’s title “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” This is precisely what we did, so the title seems appropriate.

Here are a few more photos from that day….

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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 Decuain. My favorite part about writing a decuain is figuring out at the very end which rhyming sounds I’ll choose for lines 9 and 10. Although the poem has structure, there is also room for some originality. I like that very much. What about you? Do you like being told exactly how to structure a poem? Or would you rather just write it exactly as you see fit? If you are the more independent type, why don’t you invent your own form and then share it with the rest of us. After all, that is how this and many other forms came to be. But whatever you do, when you are finished with your masterpiece, I hope you will share it with us.

Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…

  1. Write your blog post.
  2. Optional: Include the tag Decastich Challenge
  3. Include a link to this post in your post so I can find you.
  4. Publish your post.

4 Replies to “10-line Poem Challenge #8: Decuain”

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