Kyrielle: The mercy poem

by courtvanhaaren

Or a variant of it. If you practice Christianity, especially along the lines of Lutheran or Catholic (Lutheran over here), the term kyrie is easily identifiable in this word.

For those of you who are not familiar,  a kyrie is a short liturgical prayer that always consists of the phrase “lord have mercy”. Which, you know, only makes sense because kyrie derives from the mixing of Greek and Latin in kyrie eleēson, which translates literally into Lord, have mercy. (X)

Now, if you do a quick Google search for kyrielle the definition strays away from religion, breaking the poem structure down to a few basic components:

  • consists of four stanzas
  • has a rhyming couplet scheme
  • has a repeated refrain in each stanza

Not all sites agree, but the kyrielle typically consists of a meter of eight syllables per line. (I am not fixing my finished kyrielle to make eight syllables per line. IT SAYS TYPICALLY FOR A REASON). A kyrielle may deviate from the four stanzas, but the typical kyrielle usually contains at least three. The rhyming scheme or refrain may also deviate. As far as other forms, the structure of the kyrielle is definitely relaxed when it comes to meter and consistency.

BUT the usually structure is as follows:

aabB

aabB

aabB

aabB

As far as my personal kyrielle, the structure is more along the lines of this:

aabB

aabB

aabB

aacC

The style was inspired by the hymn that is set as the kyrielle example on poetry soup (X) which has five stanzas, with the first four repeating the set refrain.

You can read my kyrielle here

~C M VanHaaren

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