History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Poetry Forms: Cascade

Today, I’m talking about cascade poems. This is a relatively easy form by the “rules.” You write one stanza. Then the remaining stanzas have the same number of lines as your first stanza, and each one ends with a sequential line from the first stanza. There’s no rhyme scheme to worry about (unless you choose to). And technically speaking, there’s no meter scheme either, though some poets I’ve discussed this form with suggest that it works best when there is a consistent meter throughout. The end result is some repetition that flows downward, like a waterfall.

When I write cascades, I generally write a four-line stanza to begin, which results in a twenty-line poem. But I’ve also done some with a three-line stanza, for a twelve-line poem. You CAN go bigger … an eight-line opening stanza would result in a seventy-two-line poem, but that might be more than I can handle! I’ve written three or four of the smaller cascades, and it’s one of my go-to forms when I have a poem with lines that can be more effective when they’re repeated–especially when their meaning can be taken different ways based on the rest of the stanza around them.

For more examples of cascade poems, check out this post or this one!

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