Writing Prompt: Tetractys Poems

The tetractys is a 5-lined syllable poem. Starting with one syllable for Line 1, each line then adds a syllable until the fifth line – which has 10 syllables.To rhyme, or not to rhyme –  you can choose!

Line 1 – 1 syllable
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables


as teacher
flees in terror,
huntsman spider ignorant of error.

© Kathryn Apel


Reach. Pain.
Lunge again.
Grit teeth, strike pose.
Bent double, in trouble. Can’t touch my toes!

© Kathryn Apel

A double tetractys is when you turn a second, related poem on its end, to make a diamond shape. For an extra challenge, I created the homonym tetractys and homophone tetractys, where the first and last word of a double tetractys is a homonym, or homophone, enhancing the mirrored effect of the poem. I’ve also since added the homograph tetractys.

(iii) homonym tetractys

heads for
scrubby hills
dodging muster
as defeated men blast horns and bluster.
Stockman wheels horse to thunder in pursuit
where man’s beaut ute
blunders and

© Kathryn Apel

(iv) homophone tetractys

pastel frocks
hats, pearls and gloves;
disconsolate girls clutching dashing loves.
Khaki clad men wave proudly to sweethearts
as train departs
puffing to

© Kathryn Apel

(v) homograph tetractys

the way;
do and say.
Exemplify –
let actions be the words you speak in truth.
Empty gongs  brashly proclaim  hollow truth;
                  ears closed, mouths wide –
                              clanging words
                                   sink like
               © Kathryn Apel  


A tetractys poem is a fun way to be creative and disciplined, while playing with poetry.

All poetry on this page is © Kathryn Apel. All rights reserved. I’d love to hear from you, if you find this how-to helpful.


  1. Pingback: Homograph Tetractys | Kathryn Apel

  2. Pingback: Autumn Shindig Invitation | Friendly Fairy Tales

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