What is a Quatrain Poem?

What is a Quatrain Poem?

There are many types of poems, one of which is the quatrain. This Penlighten article will tell you more about this style of poetry writing.
Penlighten Staff
The word quatrain has its roots in the French word quatre and Latin word quattuor, both meaning four.

Quatrain is probably the most widely used form of poetry. You might have been enjoying quatrains without your knowledge. These poems include ballad, double couplet, heroic, rhyme enclosure, triple, and unrhymed poems.
Writers and poets like William Shakespeare, William Blake, and Robert Frost have used this technique of writing poetry. Heroic or elegiac stanzas often use iambic pentameter with an ABBA or ABAB rhyme scheme. Elegy written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray and Khayyám's, very popular Ruba'i, are among those literary works which made this form of poetry even more popular.
Read on to know more about quatrain poems, and also how to write them.
Definition and Structure
A quatrain is a four-lined stanza, with a rhyme scheme.
Many believe that quatrains use rhyming words in the 2nd and 4th lines, but not in the 1st and/or 3rd line. There are exceptions though. And this kind of poetry need not be written in the iambic pentameter.
The main rule of a quatrain is that it should have four lines.
Examples and Explanation
Let's take a closer look at an example of a quatrain to understand the structure better.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (A)
Thou art more lovely and more temperate: (B)
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, (A)
And summer's lease hath all too short a date (B)
Here, Shakespeare has used the ABAB rhyme scheme, with an Iambic Pentameter.
Each line goes like this: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM.
For example: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Some other examples are Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson (has three quatrain stanzas), Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (has four quatrains), and Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (heroic quatrain).
How to Write a Quatrain
Choose a subject

If you have chosen to write a poem, you probably have chosen a topic as well. In case you haven't, draw inspiration from nature, relationships, or life around you. Decide what you want to write on.
Begin writing

Using a pencil will help you correct any spelling mistakes that you make along your way. Begin with writing the first line of the poem. It might be hard to start. But once you get the first line right, coming up with the other three might be a little less difficult. See that the other lines support the idea in the first one, and follow the rhyme scheme you have chosen for the poem.
Tip: Never delete or erase anything you have written. Just write the new word or phrase above what you have initially written. These words will give you more options to finalize the poem.

Choose a rhyme scheme

If a rhyme scheme is used, a poem reads better. Use rhyme schemes such as AABB, ABAB, AAAA, ABBA, ABBB, AAAB, ABCD. If this is your first poem, use simpler patterns like AAAA, AABB, or ABAB.
Have a Dictionary

You might struggle with words, especially when finding rhyming ones. A dictionary can help you in times such.
You can stop at just one stanza or increase the number and write a longer poem. Just remember that every stanza should be 4-line long. To better understand what a quatrain is, go through different poems that use this form. It will also help you write this type of stanza with greater ease.