This form of poetry dates back to the 13th century and was often accompanied by music. In its traditional form in French and German, the lay poem was written in eight-syllable couplets. If you want to write a true lay poem, keep your lines to that syllable count. If you’re just having fun don’t worry about counting syllables. The narrative aspect of the lay means that the length of the poem varies greatly. They can be hundreds or thousands of lines long, but for our purposes, we are shooting for a stanza of 6-16 lines. As always though, rules were made to be broken. Due to the length and freedom of this form, the rules we are establishing are just recommendations and not requirements.
Rules of the Lay Poem
- It is a stanza of 6-16 lines.
- It is a narrative poem
- It can be rhymed or unrhymed as you like
The Importance of Being on Time by C.W. Bryan
I walked up his creaking steps
To the world’s most cluttered front porch
Kicking aside a chair, I knock
I hear some scrambling from inside
The door whips open and my friend smiles.
“Welcome to my humble abode,
You really made it just in time.”
I walk in and take off my shoes
He points to the cat, crouched, quiet
“You really made it just in time.”
Like a crossbow bolt, the cat darts
But the moth flies up and away
The cat let out a sad yowl
Looking defeated, slinks away.
“I really made it just in time.”