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Queen of the Quatrain

July 13, 2019

ThosRussellSchool_Y4_L's class

I was recently described as ‘queen of the quatrain’ in appreciation of my little four-line poems. When I visit schools I like to make sure every child can take home a poem or two – not in their hands, but in their heads – and quatrains are quick and easy to learn. This poem proved so popular that it was picked, in the year 2000, to be cast in metal and appear (on a fire station wall) as part of a poetry trail. If ever you visit the Hampshire town of Stockbridge, you might spot it. It’s called Ten:Nil.

ThosRussellSchool_Ten Nil part 1

ThosRussellSchool_Ten Nil part 2


These Year 4 children from the Thomas Russell Junior School in Staffordshire had no trouble learning this poem and were soon joining in with gusto.

Ten:Nil and another of my favourite quatrains, Mr Snail, both appear in my Collins Big Cat collection Star-gazing. Recently some young fans sent me a recording of their performance of this little snail poem. You may need to log on to Facebook to see it, but I am sure you will enjoy it.

Why not have a go at writing your own quatrain? You can rhyme each pair of lines, or alternate lines. Or you might, as I have done with these two verses, make just the second and fourth lines rhyme. Have fun!


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