Reena’s Exploration Challenge #130 – Once upon a lifestyle


So once upon a lifestyle
Every decade or so it comes
It wriggles in, it comes, it drums

Out of nowhere and it is vile
Out of our seat, up on our feet
As the air, water, land defile

What we’ve done, this is the outcome
So once upon a lifestyle*

(c) ladyleemanila 2020


* The Octain, full name Octain Refrain, is a form of poetry developed by English poet Luke Prater in December 2010.

It comprises eight lines as two tercets and a couplet, either as octosyllables (counting eight syllables per line), or as iambic tetrameter, whichever is preferable. Trochaic tetrameter also acceptable. The latter yields a more propulsive rhythm, as opposed to iambs, which lilt.

As the name suggests, the first line is a refrain, repeated as the last (some variation of refrain acceptable). Rhyme-scheme as follows –


A = refrain line. c/c refers to line five having midline (internal) rhyme (e.g. here/sneer), which is different to the a- and b-rhymes. The midline rhyme does not have to fall exactly in the middle of the line, in fact it can be more effective and subtle, depending on context, to have it fall earlier or later.

Alternative layout/stanza-structure:

Refrain lines out on their own, with the middle six as two tercets –


The High Octain is simply a double Octain, but as one poem – the refrains are the same, a- and b- rhymes are the same, but actual words are different, and the c/c line with the internal rhyme can optionally be rhymed in the second instance. There is no restriction on the level of repetition, but in most cases the stipulated refrain A is enough; this may even feel too repetitive and need varying. As a general guideline, changing up to four syllables of the eight still retains enough to feel like the refrain. The end word must remain the same.

The structure of the High Octain is one single after another with a break in between; alternatively, it can be written as two blocks of eight lines:

A-b-b-a-c/c-a-b-A [or d/d instead of c/c]

It is also possible to write a piece consisting of a string of single Octains (the rhymes of which would not usually correspond).

For: Reena’s Exploration Challenge #130,  Oldie but goodie (#AtoZChallenge) ,  Day 17 of Na/GloPoWriMo

11 responses

  1. msjadeli

    The form works well for the subject and I really like those first 4 lines. Great flow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ladyleemanila

      glad you like those 4 lines 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. msjadeli


        Liked by 1 person

  2. moondustwriter

    I have always appreciated Luke’s ability to create new poetry forms. A gifted poet.
    I like the emphasis of the refrain in a poem.
    Nicely done.
    The letter O

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ladyleemanila

      thank you dearly 🙂


  3. Frédérique

    Your poems are always so beautiful. Love this one too of course. This Octain form ring a bell, I think I knew it… maybe from your last year’s posts?
    O is for Oya

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ladyleemanila

      I love octain form, so probably I use it a lot! thank you, Frédérique 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reena’s Exploration Challenge #131 – Reena Saxena

    […] Nobody Lady Lee at… […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reena Saxena

    Reblogged this on Reena Saxena and commented:
    Once upon a lifestyle ….. by Lady Lee

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reena Saxena

    It is always good to learn of new formats.”Out of nowhere, and it is vile”…. sounds so true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ladyleemanila

      glad you agree, Reena 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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