Quaternion (poetry)

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Quaternion is a poetry style in which the theme is divided into four parts.


Each part of a quaternion 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 and 'offers poets the chance to experiment with varied rhetorical structures'.[2]


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)
  • Elizabeth Daryush known for her Syllabic verse used the quaternion form in her poem 'Accentedal' [3]


  1. ^ The Chambers Dictionary, Chambers Harrap Publishers, Edinburgh, 2006 ISBN 0-550-10255-8
  2. ^ Eberwein, Jane Donahue, ' Early American Literature' vol 9 no 1 University of North Carolina Press Spring 1974
  3. ^ 'Biography of Elizabeth Daryush' MyPoeticSide.com

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