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Child Play and Cat: Two Lanterne Poems

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.


Child Play

play in
the field, friends
with no ill will


Cat, a Lanterne Poem

Sly, cool
Cat of mine
Lays on my lap.

Lanterne, the Short, Syllabic Poem

Lanterne poems can be fun to write; however, they can be aggravating, too. If you like to create images with a few words, this poetic form is for you. If you want to write something compelling, or devise a prose/narrative to it, you’re in for a challenge.

Simply put, lanterne poems use a limited amount of words and are placed in varying syllabic line counts stanzas (often one stanza).

This type of poem belongs to a sub-genre known as “syllabic poems.” It may or may not use rhymes or meters; however, most of them are dependent on the number of syllables per line and are usually short in nature. Other popular formats are haiku, tanka, sijo, ninette, and cinquain.

In many respects, it’s a pattern poem, as well. It’s similar to ninette structure and mirrors the format of a diamante to some degree. Still, the poem has some uniqueness in its format and appearance (as will be discussed later).

Ninette poems are the lanterne poem’s cousin. Almost everything about these poems are the same. However, Ninette has nine lines and uses more syllables, whereas the lanterne uses only five. Also, the ninette tends to increase syllables until it peaks on the fifth line, and then gradually reduces the count until it returns to one on the final ninth line (It follows this pattern: 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1).

Like the ninette, it starts with one syllable in line one and then peaks on the fourth line with four syllables. However, the lanterne differs on its final 5th line; it drops all the way to one syllable.

The "hill"  of a Ninette Poem

The "hill" of a Ninette Poem

The "Cliff" of a Lanterne Poem

The "Cliff" of a Lanterne Poem


Instead of the gradual rolling hill of the ninette, the lanterne seems to resemble a steep cliff between to the last two lines.

Here’s the typical structure of this poem:

Line one: one syllable

Line two: two syllables

Line three: three syllables

Line four: four syllables

Line five: one syllable

As mentioned, lanterne poems are short and tend to work better when you’re trying to elicit an image or a small scene. However, this doesn’t mean one can’t attach a theme or deeper meaning to it. Popular poems written in haiku or tanka have managed to convey complex meanings in fewer words and syllables than the typical lanterne.

Still, it can be fun and challenging poem to write

Other Examples of Syllabic Poems

© 2015 Dean Traylor