Poetic Forms: Climbing Rhyme

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to week four of poetic forms, where every week I introduce a different type of poem and invite you to give it a go! As an added incentive to take part, the best poem every week is featured on the Writing Gooder blog on Sunday afternoon, alongside a brief analysis by myself.

To enter a poem, make sure it’s written in this week’s style and then either post a link to it in a comment below, or post the full text of the poem.

Climbing Rhyme

When choosing which poem to show to you this week, I had in the back of my mind the idea of a Triolet or a Sestina, but while browsing the internet I came across a form with I hadn’t tried before: the Climbing Rhyme.

This is a form of Burmese poetry and I was immediately enchanted by the unexpected and captivating use of internal rhymes to knit a poem together. Much of what I have researched about the form has come from a description by Larry Gross and so it seems fitting that I use his creation as my example:

Each in His Time

Larry Gross (1953-1984)

Living’s merely the stage
untutored actors age on–
nothing sage, nothing profound
happens, only drowned emotions
some uncrowned king inside
continues to hide, refuses
to stride the world
unfettered, flag unfurled against
fate’s hurled arrows, cannot
invent his plot, must
speak what is penned
for him, suspend himself,
amend, pretend until he
becomes someone free, someone
striding Galilee, crowned messiah
in a world he never meant to be.

How to do it

Traditionally the poem’s lines would be four syllables in length, but Gross, in his adoption of the form in English poetry, decides instead on four words per line.

It is Gross’ adaptation which we are covering today, but if you would like to write the poem in its traditional sense, simply replace every instance of ‘word’ with syllable instead, so the lines will be four syllables long and they will rhyme on every fourth, third and second syllable.

The poem follows an internal rhyming pattern of 4, 3, 2 where the author must rhyme on the fourth (and final) word of the first line, then again on the third word of the second line and once more on the second word of the third line. In addition to this, the fourth word of the third line then starts the pattern off again by rhyming with the third word of the fourth line and so on.

Here are the rhymes picked out in a section of Gross’ poem:


Living’s merely the stage
untutored actors age on–
nothing sage, nothing profound
happens, only drowned emotions
some uncrowned king inside
continues to hide, refuses


The final line of the poem will often be longer, though it seems the tradition is to aim for an odd number of words so 5; 7; 9 or 11 are the options.

I’m going to have a lot of fun trying out this form of poetry and I hope you all will as well.

Good Luck Everyone!

** Image owned by Enokson at Flickr.


Heather, who goes by Rydia on YWS, has long been an aspiring author. In the early days of her life she attached herself to poetry and would curl up on the playground bench to scrawl down lines of forgotten virtue. Or, more likely, little virtue at all. At the very old age of 11, she joined The Young Writers Club and progressed into the realms of roleplay. Here she constructed characters to fight off dragons or rally to their allies' aid with healing spells; a joint love of gaming heavily influenced this fondness of adventure storybooks. A few more years went by before Heather became a serious novelist and she still considers poetry to be her favourite media for getting those thoughts down on paper. Outside of writing her loves include puzzle books, strategy/ fantasy games, movies, swimming, skiing (when she actually has money), crafty things, baking, food in general, fun pranks and anything involving snow.

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8 Responses

  1. Niteowl says:

    Okay so I’m doing a fair amount of stuff this weekend so I got started right away. I might post this on YWS but I don’t think it’s fair given how big the Green Room is right now.

    Come dance to me
    across the sea. Dare
    to be my greatest
    man, this test you’ll
    pass, lest you lose
    my heart. Fuse with
    me, choose my bed
    forever. May lead pasts
    stay dead, for why
    should we cry about
    and lie for those
    we never chose. Please,
    no rose needed dear,
    just come near, and
    never fear. Shorelines are
    not that far, distance
    no bar for a dancing heart.

    The ending really sucks. I feel like these are easy to get into but hard to close.

    • Heather says:

      Oh I love this! I think the ending is actually quite pretty and the use of bar was unexpected, but has a sort of charming quality. I’m still clutching at straws with mine but maybe I’ll finish it tonight!

    • Aley says:

      I really like what you did here nite <3 I like how it flows so easy through the actual sentences and the rhymes. I love the use of 'lest' because it's just not one of those words you hear very often. Great rhyme choice. they hid well once I got into the flow of reading it. the one part that tripped me up was "may lead pasts/stay dead," but the message is so true, so important for us to get, that I like having to pause there and wonder how a past can be made of lead.

  2. Aley says:

    Lost Magic

    I salivated upon my
    bell, so high from
    expectations, I nearly lost
    my head.”Exhaust all
    the tossed ideas!” he
    said, “to be the
    best, see it through.”
    well, it’s you who
    wants to reinvent words:
    names for heard of
    silly birds. I like
    “Seagulls,” thanks. “Pike” isn’t
    a strike against fish
    either. They swish their
    fins, wish to live
    under any affective name
    we give them. Sometimes,
    reinventions are crimes against
    nature’s dimes; the death
    of yesterday’s MacBeth before
    the breath asphyxiates silent playgoers.

    -breath of fresh air-
    This has had like 12 different endings, but I like this one the best. XD

    • Heather says:

      That last line was worth the 12 attempts, definitely. Your rhymes are really subtle here and the wide vocabulary helps in hiding them. I think the only part which really felt forced was ‘crimes against nature’s dimes’ which doesn’t really make sense and dimes is such a loud word that it really draws attention to it. Other than that though, really nice!

  3. Cailey says:

    Okay, I did my best. This was really fun to write, but really hard, and I’m not entirely sure if it all makes sense. But, here goes.

    Let’s try four words,
    To send towards them-
    Gather hoards of letters,
    Ink like feathers falls
    And tethers the line.
    Twist your spine around
    Until fine becomes bad
    And you’re mad, furious,
    Maybe sad, depressed, crushed.
    Because words brushed past
    And rushed your soul.
    Your thoughts, bull crap,
    Too full, not enough.
    Life becomes rough- hard,
    Too rough. No story.
    All too gory, bloody,
    Like Dory, you forget.
    Characters you beget turn,
    You fret, they complain.
    Syllables fall, rain down.
    A train, thoughts, collision.
    Make a decision, now.
    Else, derision= only friend.
    No words bend, anymore.
    The end comes- the words left.

    • Heather says:

      Your first line is the most engaging of this week’s entries, it really pulls the reader in, but I’m not sure that ‘words’ rhymes with ‘towards’ and that threw me off a little. Only because I was expecting a rhyme I’m sure! I like how this gets difficult to read toward the end and how the words reflect the subject, especially ‘a train, thoughts, collision’. I think the only line which didn’t feel right was ‘Like Dory you forget’ because there’s no follow up – it’s not entirely clear what’s forgotten or why this is a significant comparison.

  4. Heather says:

    I ended up restarting my poem this week as I got halfway through and then wasn’t sure what I was writing anymore. Here’s my second attempt:

    Moving Home

    Take down the lamp-shade,
    fettered footsteps weighed by
    absence. Handmade sadness packed
    alongside books, stacked with
    mugs; compact cases crammed.
    Difficult to understand how
    something planned is aimless.

    Conveyed by nameless men,
    your famous possessions bared
    of any shared heritage
    are spared from knowing
    the bookshelf going today
    is owing three of its original shelves.

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