Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Tetractys On War

Image Source: John Buchanan

This morning I was introduced to the concept of the tetractys poem.

The tetractys was made famous by Pythagoras and has since become a modern poetry form. The form is based on the number ten which was thought to be a number of power. The name tetractys poetry derives from the fact that the syllable count of the first four lines equals ten.

A tetractys has in total, five lines, each having a syllables count of 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 10.

This format gives the poem a triangle shape. The format can be played with to produce "reversed tetractys" and "double tetractys". The following poem is a double tetractys, I hope you enjoy it.

A Tetractys On War

clear up failed
Struggling to stay alive in muddy fields,
whilst politicians, back at home, squabble
like small children
about who
they should

John Carré Buchanan
01 May 2013


  1. Think this was one of your best, love the photo supporting the words!

  2. Thank you Bryan, I believe the purist would have liked each line to stand alone, but I was not aware of that when I wrote it. They also said something about it being pastoral, but hey ho.

  3. I really liked what you did with that photo John. A picture surely can say a thousand words.
    Really enjoyed your poem too and didn't realise that there was so much to a style of poetry, maybe it's because I have no experience in it myself. You see I just previously thought that people were making random patterns for the sake of it and didn't realise it was a 'form'. I've learned something new today, thanks mate.

    1. Rum Punch Drunk, Thank you, You have caught me in one of my lowest moments, You will never know how much your kind words meant to me.
      Poetry is pretty amazing when you start getting in to it, I have never really liked writing, I only do it because it is one of the few activities I can do nowadays. I guess the other activity I have started doing is photography and photo shopping images, hence the image I used to accompany the poem.
      One of the poets I sometimes read with introduced me to this style of writing 5 minutes before I started this poem.
      Thanks once again for your support.

    2. Thought I'd stop by here and saw your message John, and sorry I didn't come by sooner. I truly hope that things are looking a little better for you now.

      It's good that you do photography because you capture the moment as and when it happens. And sometimes when you don't want to write much, why not post a photo with a sentence or two.

    3. Rum Punch Drunk, Thank you once again. I like your idea about posting some Photos, I will have a go at putting some words together over the next few days. All the best, JB

  4. I love poetic restrictions - they give you even more freedom, in a way. Though tetractys does sound like the name of a flying dinosaur...!

    1. Giclee Gal, In a strange way you are right, the restrictions do seem to make things easier, as for the dinosaur I leave that one to your imagination. Thanks for your kind comment.


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