Sep 15, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: DECASTICH

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

decastich (DECK-uh-stitch) n. a poem containing ten lines.

A decastich can be used with or without a rhyming scheme, so long as there are ten lines per stanza. The word is derived from the Greek prefix deca- ("ten") and sti'chos ("line," "row").

If you like to rhyme and compose ten-line poems, consider developing the poem known as the décima, which is a Latin American poetry form that follows the rhyming scheme A-B-B-A-A-C-C-D-D-C .

Here is an English example of the décima that was composed by Ina Cumpiano for the website The Puerto Rican Décima:

Play me a décima, friend.
Play me a song from the island.
Play me the sea and the sand…
When cuatro and sunlight blend
I’m a sick man on the mend.
Where, in the tree branch, coquí
Sings his two notes in high C,
There where the sun’s a bright mango
And a plena more real than a tango,
Play, borinqueño, for me.


microdot said...

That was great, I read the poem and immediately felt how apt the form was for salsa lyrics...
or afro cuban...
I didn't realiize that there was a formal style for the poetry.

historymike said...

Me neither, until I spent 30 minutes learning about decastiches and décimas while ignoring my mountain of work.