Invented Poetry Forms – The Mariannet

My dear readers, please forgive me for being so neglectful! It’s hard for me to believe, but I haven’t posted a post on invented poetry forms (a series that has always been the mainstay of this blog) here on “Paul’s Poetry Playground” since last February, so it’s certainly time for me to do another one. Today I will discuss the Mariannet, a name I coined for the previously unnamed poetic form that the poet Marianne Moore created to write her classic poem “The Fish” first published in 1918. Since the form was invented over a hundred years ago, it isn’t exactly new, but in many ways, it will be to most poets, because as far as I can tell, I may be the first to start writing them again since Moore.

The mariannet is an isosyllabic rhyming poem, consisting of one or more five-line stanzas (quintains) with one syllable in the first line, three in the second, nine in the third, six in the fourth, and eight in the fifth and final line. The first two lines rhyme with each other, and so does the third and fourth, but the fifth is nonrhyming and does not rhyme with any other lines. Thus its rhyme scheme can be expressed as aabbx for each individual quintain (with x representing the nonrhyming line). In Moore’s original formatting of the form, the third and fourth lines were indented five spaces and the fifth ten spaces. Unfortunately, such formatting would be very difficult for me to do in WordPress, so I’m treating the indentations as optional. However, if you are writing one, and you can indent, I highly recommend that you do – it will make your own mariannet more authentic and pleasing to the eye. To serve as a model for your own attempt at the form, here is the very first mariannet ever written, Marianne Moore’s The Fish (sadly, sans indentations):

The Fish

through black jade.
Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
adjusting the ash-heaps;
opening and shutting itself like

injured fan.
The barnacles which encrust the side
of the wave, cannot hide
there for the submerged shafts of the

split like spun
glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness
into the crevices—
in and out, illuminating

turquoise sea
of bodies. The water drives a wedge
of iron through the iron edge
of the cliff; whereupon the stars,

rice-grains, ink-
bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green
lilies, and submarine
toadstools, slide each on the other.

marks of abuse are present on this
defiant edifice—
all the physical features of

of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and
hatchet strokes, these things stand
out on it; the chasm-side is

evidence has proved that it can live
on what can not revive
its youth. The sea grows old in it.

—Marianne Moore

After reading such a poetic masterpiece as “The Fish”, I doubt you will need any more inspiration to try your hand at writing your own mariannets. But in case you do, here are my own humble (and obviously inferior) attempts at the form:

My Uncle Max’s Most Favorite Maxim

kids go bad.”
is what Uncle Max constantly said.
“They’ll wind up jailed or dead.”
His own son Sam seemed so damn glum.

Young Sam met
No such terribly tragic fate.
He still lives… to this date.
Never trust what your uncles say!

You Think, Therefore You Are?

thoughts may come
and go, in a flash fade from your mind.
There are others you’ll find
taking up permanent residence,

in place, mixed
thoroughly through waking life and dreams,
woven within the seams
of your being, your existence.

may be who-
ever you wish, you’re defined by thought.
Then again, maybe not.
Are you you… or just think you are?

Tick, Tick, Tick…

it’ll be noon.
This once new day at its halfway mark,
following the same arc
of each previous day before.

it will go
on this way, continue on and on
(until Mankind is gone
and the concept of Time’s erased).

day, the sun
may roast the earth in a fiery blaze,
bringing the End of Days,
but I pray, my friend, not today…

The Hermit

ing the knack
for chit-chat, he fled conversations,
social situations,
and took refuge in reading books.

reader may
(he soon found) interact and converse
with the whole universe
yet still stay apart from the world.

learns what we
don’t – how to savor being alone,
through the years having grown
accustomed to his solitude.

he keeps (his own, and of Keats, Thoreau
Socrates, and Plato) —
all the Society he craves…

So what do you think of the mariannet, my dear readers? Like with all the invented poetry forms that I have the pleasure of introducing to you on this blog, I sincerely wish you will try writing one for yourself, and if you do, please don’t hesitate to share. I hope you enjoyed this post, and thank you so much for reading!

10 thoughts on “Invented Poetry Forms – The Mariannet

    1. Thank you, Liz! Yes, for me it was a challenge to begin writing one. I think the secret is not to have a definite subject in mind, but to come up with a bunch of random first and second lines (which is only four syllables) and then proceed from there….

      Liked by 1 person

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