Quaternion (poetry)

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Quaternion is a poetry style in which the theme is divided into four parts. Each part explores the complementary natures of the theme or subject. The word quaternion is derived from the Latin word quaterni, meaning "four by four".[1] The poem may be in any poetic form.


Anne Bradstreet, America's first significant female poet, wrote four quaternions:

  • "Four Seasons"
  • "Four Elements" (Fire, Earth, Water and Air)
  • "Of the Four Humours of Man's Constitution" (sanguine, pragmatic, choleric and melancholic)
  • "Of the Four Ages of Man" (Childhood, Youth, Manhood and Old Age)


  1. ^ The Chambers Dictionary, Chambers Harrap Publishers, Edinburgh, 2006 ISBN 0-550-10255-8