The pantoum (or pantun) is a verse form of Malay origin, which has been adopted by European writers since the early 19th century. Each four-line stanza, or quatrain, has a pattern of alternately rhyming lines, abab. The second and fourth line of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next, until at the end of the poem the form comes full circle, with the first and third lines of the first stanza used, in reverse order, as the second and fourth lines of the last ? or, as the poet Marilyn Hacker says, "until it ends up with its tail in its mouth".

The Children's Archive

This part of the Archive is full of poems chosen specially for children. Meet old favourites and make new discoveries.

Support The Poetry Archive
The Poetry Archive depends on donations from public bodies and private individuals. Find out how you can contribute to the work of the Archive.
Search for a poem or a poet:

My Archive

Create lists of your favourite poems and poets and share them with friends.

Browse all poets by name

View all poets

Browse all poems by title

View all poems

Glossary of poetic terms

View full glossary