Poetic Form: Glosa
WHAT IS A GLOSA POEM?
The Glosa was used by poets of the Spanish court
and dates back to the late 14th and early 15th century.
For some reason, it has not been particularly popular in English.
A search of the Internet search will uncover a meager
number of brief references to the form.
From the limited information it is learned that the traditional structure
has two parts. The first part is called the texte or cabeza.
It consists of the first few lines (usually four) or the
first stanza (usually a quatrain) from a well-known poem or poet.
It has become permissible to use lines from a less
well-known poet, or even from ones own verse.
The second part is the glose or glosa proper.
This is a “gloss on,” an expansion, interpretation or explanation of the texte.
The formal rule describes the glosa as consisting of four ten-line stanzas,
with the consecutive lines of the texte/cabeza being used as the tenth line
(called the glossing) of each stanza. Furthermore, lines six and nine
must rhyme with the borrowed tenth. Internal features such as
length of lines, meter and rhyme are at the discretion of the poet.
Examples of this will be found in this chapbook collection.
As with most poetic forms, unless dictated by strict contest requirements,
poets have taken the liberty to vary the format. In addition to the glosa’s
traditional ten-line stanzas, one will find 4-, 5- and 8-liners.
They will be found written in free verse, with meter, and with rhyme.
In the shorter variations. You will find variations in which the first line
of each stanza (taken from the original texte) repeated again
as the last line – added as a refrain. When the first line is repeated
as the refrain at the end of a poem the stanza form is referred to
as an Envelope. Another variation of a short glosa poem has to do with
the location of the borrowed line. It can be the first line, the last line,
or one inserted into the body of the stanza. Yet another variation
is the use of the first four lines of a prose piece as the texte.
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