by George J. Dance

The rubaiyat quatrain is a verse form used in English poetry dating from at least the 19th century.


A rubaiyat quatrain is a stanza consisting of four lines usually of iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme of a-a-b-a.


The quatrain was given its name due to its use by Edward FitzGerald in his famous 1859 translation, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. FitzGerald’s translation became so popular by the turn of the century that hundreds of American humorists wrote parodies using the form and, to varying degrees, the content of his stanzas, including The Rubaiyat of Ohow Dryyam, The Rubaiyat of A Persian Kitten, The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Jr.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, one of the first admirers of FitzGerald's translation of Khayyam's medieval Persian verses, was the first to imitate the stanza form.

The quatrain was subsequntly used widely, as in Robert Frost's 1922 poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

    Whose woods these are, I think I know,
    His house is in the village, though.
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

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Original Penny's Poetry Pages article, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0.
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