Quatrain (pronounced “KWOT-rain”) poems are made up of four lines of verse that tell a story--sometimes sad, sometimes funny. Rhyme plays a vital role in this format. After you have learned to write the basic couplet (two lines of verse with end words that rhyme), the quatrain is a logical next step in poetry study. Students of all ages enjoy writing and reading these rhythmic lines. They also serve as a creative way to write a story or retell one in a new and different fashion. These steps will help break down the quatrain style of poetry and invite poets of all ages to begin crafting verse.
Understand that there are four different rhyming patterns associated with quatrain poems. Each line is named with a capital letter, starting with A. If the next line has a rhyming end word, it is also an A. If it doesn’t rhyme with A, it is named B. Whenever a line rhymes with a previous line, it takes that same letter in naming. Find and study examples of poems written in the patterns AABB, ABAB, ABBA or ABCB.
To write an AABB quatrain, write the first two lines so that they end in words that rhyme. Write the third and fourth lines so that the end words rhyme with each other. This resembles two couplets put together into one poetic paragraph called a stanza. The pattern is referred to as an AABB rhyme scheme.
To write an ABAB quatrain, write four lines of verse with the first and third lines having end rhyme and the second and fourth line having end rhyme.
To write an ABBA quatrain, write four lines of verse, with the first and last lines rhyming and the second and third lines rhyming.
To write an ABCB quatrain, write lines of verse with lines two and four sharing end rhyme. The first and third lines will have unique end words that don’t rhyme with other lines.