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10.3 Quatrain  
 
    Quatrain is the most commonly used stanza form consisting of four lines. For tradtionaal quatrains there are  fixed rhyme patterns with varied ways of  arrangements, such as abab, abcb, abba, aabb, aaba and aaab.
 For the metrical pattern, there can be quatrains of pentameter (e.g. Gray's Elegy Written in the Country-yard, rhyming 
abab), of tetrameter (e.g. Tennyson's In Memoriam, rhyming abba), and of alternating tetrameter and 
trimeter (e.g. Wordsworth's Strange Fits of Passion Have I know, rhyming abab), etc. Quatrains can be neat and 
economical. There is pleasure in finding an argument, or a story, or a portrayal of passions or scenery, neatly framed 
in four lines and held harmoniously together by special rhyme schemes. Consider the opening stanza of Herrick's To the 
Virgins, to Make Much of Time:
 
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,     a
Old Time is still a-flying:      b
And this same flower that smiles today  a
Tomorrow will be dying.       b
   
    The rhyme scheme of this stanza is abab, and the metrical pattern is alternating tetrameter and trimeter. 
The order of the argument is neat, and it is pleasing to find its four stages of life given in four lines. Pleasing, too, 
is the contrast between the masculine rhymes (may—today) which deal with what might happen, and the 
feminine rhymes (a-flying—dying) which express the quick passing of time. Like all successful quatrains, 
this one creates the feeling that needs just four lines to say what needs to be said. 
More examples of quatrains whith  various arrangements of rhyme schemes :
 
(1) Quatrain with a rhyming scheme of abab:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,           a
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;   b
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,    a
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.       b
(L53-56)
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
                     (L73-76)
(From Elegy, Written in the Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray) 
 
(2) Quatrain with a rhyming scheme of abcb
     Among the quatrains there is a famous one called ballad stanza. It is traditionally used to narrate some popular 
folk stories either supernatural, religious, pagan, historical or semi-historical events. Such form is usually in alternate 
four foot (tetrameter) in the first and third lines and three foot (trimeter) in the second and fourth lines, with a definite 
rhyme scheme abcb. e.g. Coleridge's The Ancient Mariner and Keats' La Bella Dame san Merci. Following are some 
more examples of quadrains:
1)
The king sits in Dumferling town, a
Drinking the blude-reid wine:        b
“O whar will I get a guid sailor,  c
To sail this ship of mine?”            b
 
Up and spak an eldern knicht,
Sat at the king’s richt knee:
“Sir Patric Spens is the best sailor,
That sails upon the sea.
      (From Sir Patrick Spens)
 
2)
O what can ail thee, knight at arms?     a
Alone and palely loitering?                   b
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,  c
And no birds sing.                              b
     (From La Bella Dame san Merci by John Keats)
In the second example above we have to point out that in the last line, though there are regularly three stresses, yet the 
stresses fall on the second, third, and fourth words: “And nó bírds síng.”
 
 (3) Quatrain with a rhyming scheme of aabb:
 Reflection
David Black
As I sit in pensive thought,      a
I realize what an awful lot       a
Of other people there must be,  b
In this world apart from me.    b
 
Each and every one a force,
Is born to live and run their course,
The world is not just my life, true
But each adds to their own,
And others too.
 
The reason foe life is beyond you and I,
And just as elusive, is why we must die,
But live our live, and die we must,
Return to the immortal dust.
 
The chances are here for all to attain,
If only we knew, it won’t come again,
Foe once we are dead, we cannot say,
I could’ve, I should’ve, I will – one day.
(4) Quatrain with a rhyming scheme of abba:
1) Memoriam A. H. H (27)
 
I envy not in any moods               a
The captive void of noble rage,      b
The linnet born within the cage,     b
That never knew the summer woods.  a
 
I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfettered by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
 
Nor what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest
 
I hold it true, whate’er befall,
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
 (From In Memoriam A. H. H.27, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
 
2) [Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord]
 
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend            a
With thee; but sir, so what I plead is just.         b
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must  b
Disappointment all I endeavour end?                 a
 
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,                 a
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder,than thou dost   b
Defeat, thwart me? O the sots and thralls of lust       b
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,      a
 
Sir, life upon the cause. See, banks and brakes     c
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again,       d
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes    c
 
Them; birds build—but not I build; no but strain,       d
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.   c
Mine,O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.              d
                         ( Gerard Manley Hopkind 1844-1889)
Note: Example 2) is an Italian sonnet,with a rhyme scheme abba abba cdc dcd
 (5) Quatrain with a rhyming scheme of aaab:
Requiem
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
 
Under the wide and starry sky,  a
Dig the grave and let me lie.      a
Glad did I live and gladly die,     a
And I laid me down with a will.  b
 
This be the verse you grave for me:     
Here he lies where he belonged to be;   
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.