Cuaderna Vía

The cuaderna vía is a strict Castillian verse form. The name comes from the Latin quadrivium (four ways), referring to the four sciences that constituted the basis of medieval studies. It consists of any number of stanzas that are monorhymed quatrains. Each line contains 14 syllables that are divided into hemistiches of 7 syllables each, often broken by caesura. (The syllable count, which is complicated in Spanish, allows no wiggle room.) In the classic form, the accent falls on the second, sixth, ninth, and thirteenth syllables, but other measures are known. The rhyme scheme is aaaa, bbbb, cccc, and so forth. The rhyme must be true rhyme; no slant rhyme, assonance, or consonance is admitted.

This rigid form dominated most of the serious Spanish poetry in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is also known as alejandrino. The name comes from a seminal poem written in the 12th century called Roman d'Alexandre. Gonzalo de Berceo, considered to be the first Spanish poet known by name, pioneered the form, which is part of the genre known as mester de clerecía.

A Cauderna Vía

The name of it is Spanish; the form of it isn't new.
The lines of it are fourfold, and they rhyme the whole way through.
Each line has fourteen accents; a pause breaks each into two.
Though meter is a factor, the choice is left up to you.

Syllable count in Spanish is tricky to say the least,
So stress can be deceiving in trying to tame the beast.
Caesura breaks are present, two hemistitches are pieced,
And all of it together means the verse can now be ceased.

Gonzalo de Berceo has rightful claim to the first
Alejandrino in Spain, the scene upon which it burst.
Mester de clerecía thus developed and was nursed.
The erudite of the time showed just how well they were versed.

Classical Cuaderna Vía

A Saturnalian Cuaderna Vía

a
a
a
a

b
b
b
b

c
c
c
c

Aelia: a Cuaderna Vía

Poor Aelia's teeth, we're told, numbered just four at the most.
She lost them all two by two, a fact that Martial would post.
Her coughing fits took their toll... Her mouth no longer plays host.
She hacks at will all the day, the fear of loss now a ghost.








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