Quatrain Poems

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—

by Emily Dickinson

‘Twas the old — road — through pain—’ by Emily Dickinson describes a woman’s path from life to death and her entrance into Heaven. 

The poet uses perfect quatrains, or stanzas of four lines each, in this poem.

In Chambers bright —

Too out of sight — though —

For our hoarse Good Night —

To touch her Head!

Explore more Quatrain poems

Because I could not stop for Death

by Emily Dickinson

‘Because I could not stop for death,’ Dickinson’s best-known poem, is a depiction of one speaker’s journey into the afterlife with personified “Death” leading the way.

This poem is divided into individual quatrains and is a good example of this stanza form.

Indian Weavers

by Sarojini Naidu

‘Indian Weavers’ explores the inevitability of death while celebrating the cycles of human existence and experience.

The three quatrains evoke a sense of inevitability and permanence.


by Jean Bleakney

‘Spring’ is an unsettling poem that explores the dangers of devotion and deferring happiness instead of living in the present.

The use of quatrains could evoke the four seasons as each stanza has four lines.

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

by Emily Dickinson

‘Hope is the Thing with Feathers’ by Emily Dickinson is a poem about hope. It is depicted through the famous metaphor of a bird.

This poem is divided into quatrains and is a good example of the form.

The Heart asks Pleasure – first

by Emily Dickinson

‘The heart asks pleasure first’ by Emily Dickinson depicts the needs of the heart. They are highly changeable and include pleasure and excuse from pain.

This poem is divided into two easy to read quatrains.

The Victor Dog

by James Merrill

‘The Victor Dog’ by James Merrill is a humorous, yet deep poem that puts the listener in the position of a dog listening to music, hearing but not understanding the complexity of its art.

'The Victor Dog' is a quatrain poem that follows some unconventional rules. Instead of using an abab rhyme pattern, it employs an abba rhyme pattern, helping the poet create the image of a record spinning around one time for every stanza. This pattern is called an envelope or enclosed rhyme scheme.

an afternoon nap

by Arthur Yap

‘an afternoon nap’ by Arthur Yap explores the lacunae in the modern education system and how it results in anxiety and stress in students.

The text of Yap's poem 'an afternoon nap' consists of quatrains without a regular rhyme scheme.

I died for beauty but was scarce

by Emily Dickinson

‘I died for beauty but was scarce’ by Emily Dickinson reflects her fascination for death and the possible life to follow.

This poem is composed of the same quatrains that Dickinson uses in most of her poems.

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died

by Emily Dickinson

‘I heard a Fly Buzz – when I died’ by Emily Dickinson is an unforgettable depiction of the moments before death. The speaker emphasizes the stillness of the room and the movements of a single fly.

Like most Emily Dickinson poems, this piece is written in four-line stanzas, or quatrains.

Gathering Leaves

by Robert Frost

‘Gathering Leaves’ is a profound poem that delves into the themes of man versus nature, productivity, and change.

The use of quatrains could evoke the four seasons, which further imbues the poem with a sense of passing time.

The Hand That Signed the Paper

by Dylan Thomas

‘The Hands that Signed the Paper’ is a war protest poem that derides the appalling apathy and ruthlessness of the rulers toward ordinary citizens.

This poem uses four quatrains to send across a very powerful emotion of disgust for the heads of states who have fallen beyond words due to their self-centered demeanor. The non-lyrical form and structure used is very effective in showcasing the apathy of the rulers.

A Bird, came down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson

‘A Bird, came down the Walk’ by Emily Dickinson is a beautiful nature poem. It focuses on the actions of a bird going about its everyday life.

This poem is divided into four-line stanzas, or quatrains.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

by Emily Dickinson

‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’ by Emily Dickinson is a popular poem. In it, she depicts a very unusual idea of life after death.

The poet uses four-line stanzas, or quatrains, throughout this poem.

The Captive Dove

by Anne Brontë

‘The Captive Dove’ by Anne Brontë is a powerful example of her verse that reminds readers that all living things desire freedom.

This poem is a good example of a quatrain poem. A quatrain is a type of poem that consists of four lines with a specific rhyme scheme, as this poem does.

The Hermit

by Alan Paton

‘The Hermit’ by Alan Paton suggests that it is impossible to find peace by locking out the pain, hunger, and emotions of others. Justice and peace are only possible through human connection and compromise.

'The Hermit' has eight quatrains that use the rhyme scheme abcb to create an eerie feeling of dissolution within the poem. This rhyme scheme breaks in the seventh stanza as the speaker repeats himself, which is a unique innovation. However, that aberration from the traditional form makes this poem not a great example of the quatrain.

A Nation’s Strength

by William Ralph Emerson

‘A Nation’s Strength’ by William Ralph Emerson asks readers to consider what it is that makes a country great and why countries fail.

This poem uses four-line stanzas that remain consistent throughout the text.

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun

by Emily Dickinson

‘My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun’ by Emily Dickinson is a complex, metaphorical poem. The poet depicts a woman who is under a man’s control and sleeps like a load gun.

The poem is divided into quatrains, as are most of Emily Dickinson poems.

God Save the Flag

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

‘God Save the Flag’ by Oliver Wendell Holmes is a simple, optimistic, and passionate poem in which the speaker emphatically delivers his opinion on the United States. 

This poem is divided into quatrains, or sets of four lines, that follow a simple ABAB rhyme scheme, making them very easy to follow. This is a good example of the poetic form.

The Suicide’s Soliloquy

by Abraham Lincoln

‘The Suicide’s Soliloquy’ is a dark poem about sorrow and suicide which some believe was written by the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

'The Suicide's Soliloquy' is a great example of the quatrain form, with four-line stanzas that provide a sense of structure and rhythm to the poem. The use of this form also helps to reinforce the speaker's internal struggle, as each stanza offers new insight into their thoughts and emotions.

[love is more thicker than forget]

by E.E. Cummings

‘[love is more thicker than forget]’ by E.E. Cummings conveys the idea that love can be a source of hope, comfort, and joy in times of darkness.

This poem is divided into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. This is maintained throughout the entire poem with the individual lines remaining around the same length.

Bloody Men

by Wendy Cope

‘Bloody Men’ by Wendy Cope is a short, contemporary poem by a British award-winning author. It uses a metaphor to compare men to buses.

This poem is composed in four-line stanzas, known as quatrains.

I Saw From the Beach

by Thomas Moore

‘I Saw From the Beach’ by Thomas Moore is a thoughtful poem. It considers the soul and passion and how the two things change over time as one ages. 

This poem is divided into four-line stanzas known as quatrains. The quatrains are consistent and easy to read, giving the poem a unified feeling.

Please Mrs. Butler

by Allan Ahlberg

‘Please Mrs. Butler’ by Allan Ahlberg is a children’s poem that conveys a frustrating and purposeless conversation between a student and their teacher. 

This poem is divided into sets of four lines, making it a quatrain.

Suicide in the Trenches

by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Suicide in the Trenches’ is an incredibly tragic poem. Siegfried Sassoon explores the mental deterioration of a young soldier in the trenches of WW1 and his suicide.

The poem 'Suicide in the Trenches' by Siegfried Sassoon is written in quatrains, which are four-line stanzas that follow a specific rhyme scheme. The poem consists of three quatrains, each with a rhyming pattern of AABB.

Beach Burial

by Kenneth Slessor

‘Beach Burial’ by Kenneth Slessor is a deeply emotional poem about the cost of war. It uses hard-to-forget images of bodies washing up on a beach to highlight this fact.

This poem is divided into quatrains or sets of four lines. These lines are nearly all the same length and convey Slessor's themes and intentions quite clearly.


by Felicia Hemans

‘Casabianca’ by Felicia Hemans describes a boy’s refusal to leave his father’s ship, despite the fact that it’s being consumed by flames and is soon to sink. He waits for an order from his father, unaware that he has passed away. 

This poem is divided into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. This is a good example of the form as it remains entirely consistent throughout.

Cottage Street, 1953

by Richard Wilbur

‘Cottage Street, 1953’ by Richard Wilbur is a powerful poem based on the poet’s own experience. It depicts a simple social meeting between his family and the Plaths.

This unique poem is written in quatrains, one of the most common poetic forms in the history of English-language writing. The stanzas are four lines long, something that remains consistent throughout the entire text.

Far over the misty mountains cold

by J.R.R. Tolkien

‘Far over the misty mountains cold’ by J.R.R. Tolkien depicts the destruction of Thorin Oakenshield’s home and his desire to win it back from Smaug. 

This poem is divided into even quatrains or sets of four lines. These lines use a few different examples of rhyme, but all of them are very musical feeling.


by Josiah Gilbert Holland

‘Gradatim’ by Josiah Gilbert Holland is a poem about the lifetime of work it takes to climb the ladder to Heaven. One needs to dedicate themselves to a life of good deeds to reach God. 

This poem is made up of four-line stanzas, known as quatrains. Quatrains are incredibly common, seen in innumerable poems throughout history, including this one.

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