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What is a Tetractys?

The poetic form of the tetractys is a poem with only five lines. Each line adds another syllable until the last line which has ten.

What is the Stucture of a Tetractys?

A tetractys consists of 5 lines.

Each line has a set number of syllables see below:

Line 1 – 1 syllable
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables

An Example of a Tetractys Poem

I 1
Am four 2
And I go 3
To big school where 4
I learn to read and write and spell my name. 10

Double Tetractys poem

For a more complex form there is the double tetractys, which is similar but has ten lines and is structured as shown below.

Line 1 – 1 syllables
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables
Line 6 – 10 syllables
Line 7 – 4 syllables
Line 8 – 3 syllables
Line 9 – 2 syllables
Line 10 – 1 syllable

An Example of a Double Tetractys Poem

I 1
Am four 2
And I go 3
To big school where 4
I learn to read and write and spell my name. 10
It is fun and I play games with my friends 10
My best friend is 4
Called Rosie 3
She is 2
Nice. 1

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

For information on poetry types other than a tetractys 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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