10-line Poem Challenge #15: Decannelle

Please take a minute to read this wonderful Brady’s Touch by Word Florilegium….

When you have finished reading the poem linked above, be sure to come back here to learn about a new decastich, the Decannelle.

The Decannelle is a decastich (10-line poem) created by Joseph Nutter. It was made popular in 1949 when published in a poetry magazine.

In order to write a Decannelle, you must understand a few technical poetic terms.

  1. A trochee (trochaic foot) has a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed (i.e. BUB-bles).
  2. Tetrameter is the term for four rhythmic feet in a line of poetry—in this case, four trochees, called trochaic tetrameter.
  3. A feminine ending is a line of poetry that ends on an unstressed syllable. To achieve a feminine ending in trochaic tetrameter, you simply write four complete trochees.
  4. A masculine ending is a line of poetry that ends on a stressed syllable. To achieve a masculine ending in trochaic tetrameter, you write 3½ trochees. In other words, you cut the last one short by one syllable, so that you end up with 7 syllables total instead of 8 in that line.

NOTE: When it comes to masculine and feminine endings, one way to remember which is which is that the feminine ending is softer (unstressed) while the masculine ending is stronger (stressed). If that explanation sounds too sexist for you, then perhaps you’ll like this one better: The woman always has to have the last word. 😉

Now on to writing a Decannelle…

  • It is written in a single 10-line stanza in trochaic tetrameter, alternating between feminine and masculine endings.
  • Odd-numbered lines have unrhymed feminine endings (8 syllables each)
  • Even-numbered lines have rhymed masculine endings (7 syllables each)
  • Rhyme scheme: xaxaxaxbxb
  • The Decannelle may be written on any topic.
  • This was not specified by the creator, but I have found this structure to be easily conducive to a turn of thought at line 7, particularly since the rhyming sound changes at this part (from xaxaxa to xbxb). This is not a rule, since I made it up myself, but feel free to do as I do, if you so choose.


Below are two samples for you. The first one is rather serious (and fictional), but the second is playful (and true). I do love ending on a positive note. Notice how in each poem, the line of thought changes direction starting in line 7.

Prisoner by Choice

Safe from those who used to hurt her,
Locked inside and shut up tight,
Now her life has formed a pattern:
Watching movies every night.
Substitutes the made-up drama,
Her sad story to rewrite….
Living solo isn’t lonely—
Least, it doesn’t have to be;
But one must let go of phantoms
To be really, truly free.

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


Cat at Play

Kitty found a little treasure:
Christmas globe to call his own.
Bats it down the empty hallway—
He is in his playful zone.
To the clatter on the baseboards
I have now accustomed grown.
Yet if only he would fancy
To be playful during day,
I would not feel so inclined to
Take his Christmas ball away!

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


It’s Your Turn!

Now it’s time for you to write a Decannelle. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Think of a topic that you can approach from two different angles.
  2. Be silly, sad, sappy, or serious, your choice. There is no restriction on theme or mood.
  3. And of course, when you are finished, please share it with us.

Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…

  1. Write your blog post.
  2. Include the tag Decastich Challenge or 10LPC
  3. Include a pingback/link to this post in your post so I can find you.
  4. Publish your post.

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.


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