The traditional Russian folk poem called a chastushka (частушка) is a quatrain of trochaic tetrameter that can rhyme several ways: abab, abcb, or even aabb. The last foot of a chastushka line is often a single stressed syllable rather than a full trochee. (Think "Lizzie Borden took an ax...") Usually humorous, satirical, or ironic in nature, the chastushka is often put to music, usually with the accompaniment of a balalaika or an accordion.

Sometimes several chastushki occur in sequence to form a song. Chastuski cover a very wide spectrum of topics, from lewd jokes to political satire, including such diverse themes as love songs and Communist propaganda. After each chastuska, there is a full musical refrain without lyrics to give the listeners a chance to laugh without missing the next one.


Russians write a kind of ditty,
Often rude and always witty.
Trenchant wit that shows no pity
Makes us laugh at nitty-gritty.

Strung together in a series,
Sung by folks who like to hear these,
Verse to song occurs with near ease.
Like the form? Feel free to cheer, please!


Disagree? Feel free to sneer, please!

Classical Chastushka

A Saturnalian Chastushka

Saturn's feast days hit the spot;
Celebrate with all you've got.
Revels do not last for long,
Shout "hurrah!" and join the throng.

Saturn's ship approaches shore...
Wager walnuts, coins, or more.
Slaves and masters switch around;
Pranks and merriment abound.

Chill December's days are dark...
Lighted tapers add a spark,
Gladden hearts, and gloom dispel.
Bid the "best of days" farewell.

Put Charon on Speed Dial

Currently the president
Wants to drain the DC swamp;
Anyone can see he's hell-bent...
Quick! Let's call a "pyscho"pomp.

What a Piece of Work

Kellyanne's a voice that's shrill,
Promulgating lies as fact;
Always seeking to detract,
She's a noxious party shill.

How Low Can You Go?

Pseudo-POTUS' sidekick Pence
Hitched his wagon to a "star;"
From that time and ever since,
Shares a lowered standard bar.

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