Recently, fellow poet Kat Appel alerted me to the existence of Tetractys poems. I was intrigued. I like to explore poetry in many forms, so this presented as an exciting poetic prospect. I went in search of deeper knowledge...
Tetractys, is a poetic form invented by Ray Stebbing. It consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 syllables (total of 20). They can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count. Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. This makes the Tetractys a most versatile form of poetry.
Double Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1
Triple Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 10
and on it goes...
Euclid, the mathematician of classical times, considered the number series 1, 2, 3, 4 to have mystical significance because its sum is 10, so he dignified it with a name of its own - Tetractys.
The challenge of a Tetractys is to express a complete thought, profound or comic, witty or wise, within the narrow compass of twenty syllables. so, here's my double Tetractys.
It's a poem that came to life observing people on Seminyak Beach in Bali recently. Hope you can find a space for a Tetractys poem in your repertoire too.
Observations On A Bali Beach
Striders and strollers, hugging the shoreline.
The tanned and freckled, the scabby and scorched.
Most are barfeoot.
Some wear hats.