Poetry Pep Up Day Three: Count On It! (Tetractys)

The tetractys is a 5-lined syllable poem. It looks short and simple, but each word must earn its place – it’s the crafting that goes into the tetractys that makes it so good!

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

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

That’s the challenge! Write a tetractys.

A double tetractys is when you turn a second, related poem on its end, to make a diamond shape.

Weigh your words and construct your poem. It’s not just about getting your syllable counts right on each line. Line breaks are important too – so make them work for you.

From draft to polished non-rhymed non-fiction tetractys.

Ramp up the challenge with a homophone, homograph or homonym double tetractys.


  1. Kat, I hope you don’t mind, but my poem expresses my anger. I will not be posting this one on social media.

    came to
    my church home
    hold sacred words
    like a torch for your insensitive head.

    Liked by 2 people

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