Reverse, Inverted,  mirror, butterfly, double, triples and crowns are all variations which can be done with any syllabic form.  Many of them will not appear on this site because I have made brevity a theme and do not plan at this point to exceed five lines, maximum.

However, just for fun, and to get the creative juices flowing, I would like to spend a moment on some of the more common ways to alter a predefined syllabic form.


Begin with the ending syllable count for the first line and work your way backwards.  Although keep in mind it is not possible to reverse a form which ascends and descends numerically the same way. One can not write a reverse haiku, by my definition. The reverse is the same as the original.


An inverted version of a syllabic form would be like turning a piece of clothing inside out. The inside numerical values move outward sequentially. This one can really spin your brain unless you are equally mathematician and poet.  But a simple example is easy. If you took a Robert Kelly lune and inverted it the count would be 3-5-3. That’s the concept anyway. Others have already noted this count as an abbreviated haiku, but call it whatever you wish.


A mirror is created by first following the syllable count of a form and then immediately reversing it. Although I have seen mirrors done where there is a stanza break before reversing the syllable count.


The butterfly copies the mirror except after the syllable count is followed, for the beginning of the second half, the first line syllable count is dropped. This was probably developed originally for the cinquain as the way the structure rises and falls it usually gives the shape of a butterfly. For me it is simply the name of a technique and I don;t care if it looks like a butterfly or not to label it that way.

double, triple, more, more, more!

Two stanzas of a syllabic form separated is called a double and so on. Doubles and triples are common, but not much past that unless you get into garlands and crowns.

crowns and garlands:

I have only seen crowns written for cinquains and sonnets. The only two examples, given together produce a certain amount of confusion. A crown of sonnets is seven sonnets. But a crown of cinquains is five cinquains. A cinquain has five lines. A sonnet has fourteen. So to make a crown out of another form the poet must decide whether to half the number of lines or not. Also in a crown of sonnets the first line is used at the end of the sequence for closure. That is not mentioned in a crown cinquain, but probably occurs.

There is also the sonnet redouble or heroic crown which has fifteen sonnets. But this variation has a bizarre name. Normally when a poetic forms variation bears the label heroic, it refers to the meter. But in this case it follows a procedure similar to what is called a garland cinquain. In a garland cinquain, five cinquains are written and then one final one is taken from the lines of the preceding stanzas. The first line of the first for the first, the second line of the second for the second, and so forth. I have found no references to call doing this with a sonnet a garland sonnet instead of a heroic, so I am at a loss on translating those titles to other forms. My guess is it is best to stick with the sequence and label of the cinquain since it is syllabic.

Sequential and others:

Techniques can be mixed with form. Many techniques are listed on form page three. So for a combination example there can be an abecardian cinquain easily. Serial poetry forms offer a wide range of imaginative alterations in terms of counting letters, omitting letters and order. I feel alliteration is a sorely neglected technique. Consonance and assonance are often used in many forms of Germanic and Celtic poetry. I have labeled poetry which does not fall in this genre and demand it, where I have added the feature, as alliterative verse.


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