by Ashley Lister 

 The quatern is a sixteen line French form composed
of four quatrains (four line stanzas).

The quatern has a refrain (a repeated line) that is
in a different place in each quatrain. In other words, the first line of stanza
one is the second line of stanza two, the third line of stanza three and the fourth
line of stanza four. It’s surprising how much this affects the meaning of the
words in that refrain.

A quatern should have eight syllables per line. It
does not have to be iambic or follow a set rhyme scheme.

I don’t know why you won’t undress

Your clothes are getting in my way

I say this to you night and day

It leaves our love life in a mess

And so I tell my therapist

I don’t know why you won’t undress

It stops me trying to caress

The parts I think you needed kissed

But he tells me to give you time

He says you don’t need my duress

I don’t know why you won’t undress

I worry you’re no longer mine

I hear my therapist confess

He’s seeing you: You’re deemed a slut

He wants some advice from me but

I don’t know why you won’t undress

I have to admit, I love poems that work with refrains. All poems get us thinking about words and the way we use them in different fashions. The use of a refrain, especially with such a didactic placement as the one in the quatrain, makes us think more about our selection of choice phrases.

As always, I look forward to enjoying your quaterns
in the comments box below.