Whittled Words – Skeltonic Verse



Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:




If you feel the absolute urge to rhyme, then Skeltonic Verse is the way to go.

Skeltonic Verse, which today is sometimes also referred to as Tumbling Verse, is from the 15th century when English poet John Skelton (1460-1529) created short lines which resemble the hemistich of the Tumbling Verse of King James. It is a subgenre of Georgic, didactic verse, the verse usually being instructional in nature. The lines are of irregular dipodic meter with a tumbling rhyme.

Skelton pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise known as “dipodic” or “two-footed” verse). The lines rhyme, but there’s not a rhyme scheme per se. The poet simply rhymes against one word until he or she gets bored and moves on to another.


Skeltonic Verse form:


  • written in any number of dipodic* lines without stanza break
    • *dipodic which is a line with 2 heavy stresses and any number of unstressed syllables
  • rhymed, tumbling rhyme is any number of mono-rhymed lines until the rhyme runs out of energy then the lines switch to a new mono-rhyme series
  • line lengths should be between three and six words



Examples of Skeltonic Verse Poems:



by Unknown


Dipodic Verse

will be Terse.

Stress used just twice

to keep it nice,

short or long

a lilting song

or sounding gong

that won’t go wrong

if you adhere

to the rule here,

Now is that clear

My dear?




by Brad Osborne

Seek not more

Saved to store

No need for

Having more

Bounty pure

So, I implore

Let go these things

These diamond rings

No joy wealth brings

Such finer things

When one springs

Their angel wings




I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Skeltonic Verse poem. Thanks for reading!




14 Responses to “Whittled Words – Skeltonic Verse”
  1. yassy says:

    This is really nice , Brad.

  2. Jim Borden says:

    I like this style; reminds me of some of Bob Dylan’s lyrics. Your poem is quite timely as well, with all the stockpiling/hoarding that is going on. There’s not need for such behavior.

  3. WildHeart says:

    Trying out new poem styles is always fun. Here’s my attempt.

    Corona, corona, corona

    The world is in trauma.

    Everyone everywhere

    Is now living in fear. 

    Don’t come near

    Keep a distance dear. 

    Wash your hands

    Use disinfectants. 

    People dying

    And panic buying. 

    But just hold on tight

    It’ll be alright. 

    Thank you so much Brad for introducing this fun format. Also, I’m open to constructive criticism. ❣️

  4. SRIKANTH says:

    This is a new kind of poem writing!! Short & sweet 👍

  5. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed it Brad. These are very informative posts, thank you for sharing the knowledge. All the best to you!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Note:It’s hard time. But don’t be scared, it’ll be alright. Stay safe. Loads of love to you! This poem is inspired by Brad Osborne‘s post Whittled Words- Skeltonic Verse. […]

  2. […] This is a Skeltonic Verse Poem. I learned this in Brad Osborne’s post, Whittled Words- Skeltonic Verse. […]

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