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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Glosa, Glose, or Gloss

I originally became aware of this form where it was referred to by the name given it by the Mississippi Poetry Society, the last of the references quoted below, and the only one using that name which I found.

I give you links to all reference quoted here, and they essentially agree on all but the name.  'Tis a fun form to write, enjoy yourself.

Structure, Repetitive Requirement, Other Requirement
A glose starts with a texte and comments on it through expanded discussion. In other words, it takes the texte, which may be a stanza of any number of lines and then creates a stanza for each of those lines. The stanzas do not have to be the same number of lines as the texte. The sonnet redoubled is a form of glose. The text line appears as a repetition at the end of the verse that is glossing it.
See Also:

Glose (or Glosa)

The glose originated in Spain, where it is known as the glosa.
It has two parts, which are normally written by different authors. 
The first part - the texte or cabeza - consists of a few lines which set the theme for the entire poem. Typically this will be a stanza from a well-known poem or poet - although it is perfectly permissible to write your own texte.
The second part - the glose or glosa proper - is a gloss on, or explanation of, the texte. It takes the form of an ode, with one stanza per line of the texte. Each stanza in turn expands upon its corresponding line of texte, and ends with a repetition of it. 
An example will make this clearer.
Another blow for press freedom

The painful warrior famoused for fight
After a thousand victories once foiled
Is from the book of honour razèd quite
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled.

A thug, about him something of the night,
But our thug, who took up arms and stood firm,
Brave, strong and tall for what he thought was right.
A hero, though he’d blush to hear the term,
The painful warrior famoused for fight.

A realist, this craggy hunk; hard-boiled,
But never thought to find a single blot
On his once proud escutcheon.  Now it’s soiled
Beyond recall. His reputation’s shot,
After a thousand victories once foiled.

He rails against his fate, the sudden blight
That chills him. Life will never be the same.
The days drag by. He lies awake at night,
Cold, haunted by the knowledge that his name
Is from the book of honour razèd quite.

His future, once so bright, has now been spoiled;
His past’s no longer what it used to be.
Admirers he once had have all recoiled,
Wiped tapes, burnt photos, pulped biography,
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled.
The texte here comes from Shakespeare's sonnet 25. For the glose, I chose to use 5-line stanzas rhyming ababa. 4-line or 8-line stanzas are more usual, but any kind of ode stanza is acceptable.  

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 uncovered 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 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.

Here is the form explained by the Mississippi State Poetry Society, which had a contest for poems in this form in 2010:

Any subject. Form: Gloss. An expansion of a well-known poet's quatrain in iambic tetrameter or iambic pentameter. This quatrain, the text, must be given as an epigraph under the title of one's poem, along with the title of the poem it is from and the name of the poet who wrote it. Following are four sextet stanzas. 24 lines, each stanza beginning with a line from the text, with four original lines added in a rhyme scheme of one's own choosing, and closing with the same line from the text. Sponsored by the Mississippi Poetry Society, Inc.
1st Prize: $25, 2nd Prize: $20, 3rd Prize: $15.

Example Poem

Where I'm Most at Home (Glosa, Glose, or Gloss)

After  the opening stanza of
"This Place that I Call Home"  by Mvincent

" I am a lover of tall mountain peaks
when softly draped with blankets of fresh snow;
of alpine lakes and gleaming waterfalls,
slow running streams that teem with rainbow trout—"

I am a lover of tall mountain peaks
when softly draped with blankets of fresh snow;
of alpine lakes and gleaming waterfalls,
slow running streams that teem with rainbow trout—

I am a lover of tall mountain peaks
and desert flowers nestled twixt the sage
which climbs the foothills 'til it's all replaced
by pine and spruce and fir.  Much flora seeks
out places in pre-alpine meadow-- a stage
where it's a hit that is too soon displaced.

When softly draped with blankets of fresh snow
my backyard even seems a visual treat.
The mountains dress in heavy coats of white
The snow depth measured in the scores of feet.
The hearty play and ski to their delight.
The mountains save  that pack so life can grow.

Of alpine lakes and gleaming waterfalls
I dream as my begin my climb today.
When half-way there I stop and watch below
as a coyote slowly wends his way
thru grasses tall, across the green meadow.
I stay 'til he's gone, then I'll find the falls.

Slow running streams that teem with rainbow trout
is far below me now and I'm at peace
and touching heavens breath.  Soon I'll decide
to leave and fish for dinner.  I'll not cease
to wonder at the calm enjoyed beside
slow running streams that teem with rainbow trout.

 © Lawrencealot - February 27, 2013

Visual Template

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1 comment:

  1. Glossa is a fixed Latin form of lyric verse, generally used for poems of philosophic character, in which each line of the first stanza is developed in subsequent stanzas, which then finish with that line. The last stanza repeats the lines of the first in reverse order.
    It is regrettable that reaferences - including dictionaries - no longer care to research deeper!