How To Write a Quatrain

A quatrain is a poem that consists of a four-line verse or stanza which has a varied rhyme scheme. This allows writers the freedom to create poems using a wide range of ideas.

Quatrains can be one verse consisting of four lines, or they can be longer. The following are the most commonly used rhyme schemes:

  1. abab or alternating rhyme scheme
  2. abba or envelope rhyme scheme
  3. aabb
  4. aaba, bbcb, ccdc, dddd which is a chain rhyme scheme

There is not a certain rhyme scheme that has to be used when writing quatrain poetry which is why many find them so much fun to write.

The best way to begin to write a quatrain poem is to first think of a subject and go from there. Many of these are written about nature but the theme can be about anything. Quatrains can be challenging to write because of the rhyming but become easier to write with practice.

After the subject has been established, begin to build on that idea by compiling a list of rhyming words. It is a good idea to start with the A rhyming words and then begin to write the B rhyming words but there is no set way to begin these lists. Once the rhyming lists have been established the writing begins.

The first line of a quatrain is important because it will be the base of the poem and will shape the poem. It should be noted that the rhyme scheme may change as the writing progresses. This is common because as the writing progresses the poem may change. A dictionary, a thesaurus, and online rhyming sites are very helpful when writing quatrain poetry.

When writing quatrains, it is important to incorporate poetic devices such as hyperbole, alliteration or onomatopoeia which is the use of words that make a sound such as rattle, buzz, thump, etc. For example: "The cat's bones rattled when he ran."  Hyperbole stresses exaggeration, as in: "Susan slept forever." Alliteration is the duplication of the same consonant or vowel sound at the beginning of subsequent words. For example:   "Carol counted coins."

When the poem is complet,e it should be read out loud so that you can listen for clarity and to make certain the poem flows well. Like all poems, a quatrain will require revision and editing.

Quatrain poetry can be made up of only four lines, like those Emily Dickerson often wrote, or they can be as long as the poet wishes. There is much freedom in writing quatrain poetry, because there are various rhyme schemes which can be used.


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