The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

26 Mar 2009


The pantoum is an unusual and curious verse form. Although its origins are in Malaysia, in 15th-century, it has been translated and adapted by western poets, such as Victor Hugo or Charles Baudelaire. More recently John Ashbery, Thomas Lux (“All the Slaves”) or Peter Meinke (“Atomic Pantoum”) have cultivated this exotic kind of poetry.

In the pantoum each stanza has four lines and the poet links consecutive stanzas with a simple device: the fourth and second lines of a given stanza are used as the first and third lines of the next one.

The interlocking pattern of repeated sounds provides an echoing effect that is reinforced by the fact that in the last stanza there are no new lines at all. Here, lines first and third are the second and fourth from previous stanza and the second and fourth lines are the third and first ones of the first stanza. So the first and last lines of the poem are the same.

In this sample of pantoum verse we may see how the poet avoids monotony by employing movable punctuation and homophones:

We live in this house.
It fits right in.
Its windows face
The long afternoons.

It fits right in,
And no one would guess
The long afternoons
Mean nothing to us

And no one would guess
That the other houses
Mean nothing to us-
Except for the little boys

That the other houses
Gather in a dusk.
The little boys
Think we´re gosts

Gathering at dusk
To frequent their dreams.
They think we´re ghosts
When our night visits seem

Too frequent. Their dreams
Make them shudder-
Our night visits seem
Like shadows, wavering by persistent.

Make them shutter
Their windows, face
Their own shadows. Wavering but persistent,
We live in this house.
Marilyn Taylor


  1. Wow! How elaborate!

  2. Thank you Juan. Very interesting indeed!!