Lanturne poetry form

For Margo Roby’s Tuesday Tryouts, this week, there is a new form: the lanturne—another short, syllable-count Japanese form. It has five lines with syllable-counts of one, two, three, four and one. It is written with center justification, and ideally will have the shape of a Japanese lantern when complete.

In typical Poet’s Quill fashion, I jotted down a quick attempt.

can provide the

I didn’t like it. The shape didn’t work, and although I liked what it said, it didn’t have the feel of Japanese poetry—duh. The next step was to Google “lanturne” to see if I was missing a step or two. Google did not turn up the usual explosion of authorities normally found. Most entries were written by poets (like me) trying out the form for the first time. I had to search through several pages before turning up two reasonably authoritative sources,, and, They both say the first line is supposed to be a noun, the next three lines are descriptions of the first line, and the last is a synonym for the first.

With the absolute power of questionable knowledge behind me, I tried again. I will admit, these seem to fit closer to the Eastern philosophy, but they still lack a definitive lantern shape.

Towers of strength

School’s out
Off to swim
Vacation time

Water sports

Running wild
Without a care

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15 Responses to Lanturne poetry form

  1. Mike, it looks like you had fun with this form. The last one looked like a lanturne, but I liked ALL of them. Really enjoyed the progression of this post. Sometimes it is the simple looking forms that prove to be a great challange.

  2. viv blake says:

    A really worthwhile piece of work – the research and the poems. I like the first and the last best.

  3. Teri says:

    So glad your earnest attempt brought together a few more ideas about Lanturnes. I have never even done a Haiku… well except maybe back in high school. Thank you for the informative research as well as your first step in a 2000 year process. Personally I think your mindset is fine right where it is. My favorites were the first and last… but especially the last. I love love. xo teri

  4. earlybird says:

    I love this process note : ‘With the absolute power of questionable knowledge behind me, I tried again’ – so honest!

    I think you did well. Slightly wobbly in shape I agree, but, as a collection, all the more interesting for that.

  5. Mary says:

    Mike, it was enjoyable to read your work. My favorites were the last two! I do think this is a form that can grow on a person!

  6. margo roby says:

    I found both those sites and decided not to use them because I thought them too prescriptive [especially starting with a noun and ending with something that defines that noun], but if one takes the suggestions as just that, then I can see they might be helpful. For rebels 😉 having the added suggestions might be helpful. My worry is that with the steps from the how to site, I kept ending up with list poems and I don’t think that’s what a lanturne is. Mary seems to have gotten them down cold, especially the caesura.


  7. Mike says:

    A great post Mike.
    I love finding out about new forms and it was fascinating to be a fly on the wall as you experimented with this one.
    My favourite was the last one.
    I’m off to have a go at this it looks like fun.

  8. Very interesting research and post. I enjoyed it immensely. There is a Dutch form of poetry called Elfe that does similar with words – 1,2,3,4,1, but syllables are not relevant.

    ps ..if you’re interested!

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