Saturday, July 26, 2014


       A Rubaiyat is a poem using stanzas called rubai. This is a quatrain (4-line stanza) written in iambic pentameter or tetrameter. The rhyme scheme is aaba. The Rubaiyat stanza is also called the "Omar stanza."  A well known example in modern literature is "Stopping by Woods" by Robert Frost. 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are, I think I know.
His house is in the village, though.
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow. 

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year. 

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep. 

In modern rubaiyats, the third line in each verse rhymes with the first, second and fourth line in the next verse. In the last verse, all four lines rhyme. In Frost's poem above, the meter is iambic tetrameter and the rhyme scheme is  abba bbcb ccdc dddd.  The last two lines do not have to be identical as Frost made them, but they can be if the poet wishes.

The difference in the final stanza, where no new rhyme is introduced, not only puts emphasis on the message of the stanza, but also gives a hint that the poem is ending.  Use of the Rubaiyat stanza contributes musical rhythm to this poem.  The musical effect is enhanced by the use of iambic tetrameter. 

In the past, in a multi-stanza poem employing rubia, the third lines in all the stanzas were expected to rhyme. This is no longer true. 

Below are more examples. The two stanzas below from Omar Khayyam are written in iambic pentameter. 

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
The Winter garment of Repentance fling;
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
[Stanza 7) 

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread -- and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness --
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
[Stanza 12)


At November 7, 2019 at 12:22 AM , Blogger Learn Speaking English said...

Nice post.

At September 16, 2022 at 3:07 PM , Blogger JuliePoet said...

Thanks, Florence!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home