Feb 11, 2010

Luc Bat

I really need to start researching these forms before I commit to which one I’m doing in a given week. This one not only has specific syllable lengths for each line, but it’s also got a rather funky rhyme scheme.

The Luc Bat style predates Indochina and was introduced into Europe by the French. It’s a traditional Vietnamese verse form that is deeply tied to the soul of Vietnamese culture and people. Luc Bat is Sino-Vietnamese for "six eight", referring to the alternating lines of six and eight syllables. It will always begin with a six-syllable line and end with an eight-syllable one, however, it can be as long as you wish.

Unlike other verse forms which are traditionally enjoyed only by high class Vietnamese, Luc Bat is traditionally composed and enjoyed by people of all classes, from the lowly peasants to the noble princes. It can be regarded as a living style of Vietnamese people. The rich treasure of Vietnamese folk poems (ca dao), which consists of hundred thousands of verses that reflect on life, morality, human relationship, and nature’s beauty, are almost entirely composed in Luc Bat form.

The Luc Bat uses a kind of falling/climbing rhyme where a rhyme sound first shows up as the end of a six-syllable line, then as the sixth syllable of the next eight-syllable line. The form interlocks and can go on for any number of couplets, finally interlocking back to the beginning.

There are two types of rhyme schemes for the Luc Bat. The first type is the more common and popular one. In this rhyme scheme, 6th syllable of the six-syllable line rhymes with the 6th syllable of the eight-syllable line, then the 8th syllable of the eight-syllable line rhymes with the 6th syllable of next six-syllable line, and the pattern goes on. This rhyme scheme can be summarized in the following model:

1 2 3 4 5 A
1 2 3 4 5 A 7 B
1 2 3 4 5 B
1 2 3 4 5 B 7 C
1 2 3 4 5 C
1 2 3 4 5 C 7 D
1 2 3 4 5 D
1 2 3 4 5 D 7 A

The second type is the less common one which involves the 6th syllable of the six-syllable line rhymes with the 4th syllable of the eight-syllable line instead.

1 2 3 4 5 A
1 2 3 A 5 6 7 B
1 2 3 4 5 B
1 2 3 B 5 6 7 C
1 2 3 4 5 C
1 2 3 C 5 6 7 D
1 2 3 4 5 D
1 2 3 D 5 6 7 A

For the first time my poetry muse has failed me. I started a couple of really awful poems in the Luc Bat form, but nothing I’d care anyone to actually read. I admit I was short on time and the Luc Bat is not a poetry form that will be rushed.

So here is an example of a Luc Bat by Etain Druantia.


We've drifted beyond reach
lonely wood on a beach of tears
misshapen by life's fears,
accumulated years of pain
grounded by tides again
worn down by driving rain, fierce breeze,
relentless, tossing seas
bursting in waves do tease and play
lunge at bleached bones each day
unmoved we keep away from light
shadows hide, dim clear sight
blind to hope shining bright, dead beech.


Jamie D. said...

That is very complex (and kind of confusing to keep straight)! I like it though...love the example you posted. I completely understand why it wouldn't just be a "sit down and pen one out" sort of thing. Wow.

Very interesting...thanks! :-)

C R Ward said...

Thanks Jamie! Maybe some day I'll write a luc bat of my own, but I doubt it'll be any time soon. :-)