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What is a Pantoum?

A pantoum is a type of poem with a verse form consisting of three stanzas. It has a set pattern within the poem of repetitive lines.

The pattern in each stanza is where the second and fourth line of each verse is repeated as the first and third of the next. The pattern changes though for the last stanza to the first and third line are the second and fourth of the stanza above (penultimate). The last line is a repeat of the first starting line of the poem and the third line of the first is the second of the last. Confused? Look below and there is an example.

 

An example of a Pantoum

Riverside

1 As I walk by the riverside
2 Ripples disturb the water
3 Fish dart upstream
4 Fighting against the flow
   
2 Ripples disturb the water
5 Struggling to their destination
4 Fighting against the flow
6 In their underwater world
   
5 Struggling to their destination
3 Fish dart upstream
6 In their underwater world
1 As I walk by the riverside



Why don't you try writing a pantoum poem and enter it into one of our poetry competitions.

For information on poetry types other than a pantoum poem visit our poetry glossary – poetry types.

Poetry Types

Acrostic Epigram Lyric Shakespearean Sonnet
Ballad Free verse Ottava rima Sonnet
Ballade Haiku Pantoum Tanka Poem
Blank verse Horatian Ode Pindaric Ode Terza rima
Cinquain Irregular Ode Riddle Tetractys
Diamante Kennings Rondeau Triolet
Echo Verse Kyrielle Senryu Tyburn
Epic Limerick Shape Poem  
 
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