Glosa: Form of the Month

Joined: May 5th, 2006, 6:47 pm

September 1st, 2015, 6:46 pm #1

Our form for the month is the glosa. Here's the link Esther provided to the strict form of the glosa: ... sa-8932612

And many thanks to Terry for providing the following explanations, links, and examples.
This first bit is from this site: ... gloss.html

The glose originated in Spain, where it is known as the glosa.

It has two parts, which are normally written by different authors.

The first part - the texte or cabeza - consists of a few lines which set the theme for the entire poem. Typically this will be a stanza from a well-known poem or poet - although it is perfectly permissible to write your own texte.

The second part - the glose or glosa proper - is a gloss on, or explanation of, the texte. It takes the form of an ode, with one stanza per line of the texte. Each stanza in turn expands upon its corresponding line of texte, and ends with a repetition of it.

An example will make this clearer.

Another blow for press freedom

The painful warrior famoused for fight

After a thousand victories once foiled

Is from the book of honour razèd quite

And all the rest forgot for which he toiled.

A thug, about him something of the night,

But our thug, who took up arms and stood firm,

Brave, strong and tall for what he thought was right.

A hero, though he’d blush to hear the term,

The painful warrior famoused for fight.

A realist, this craggy hunk; hard-boiled,

But never thought to find a single blot

On his once proud escutcheon.  Now it’s soiled

Beyond recall. His reputation’s shot,

After a thousand victories once foiled.

He rails against his fate, the sudden blight

That chills him. Life will never be the same.

The days drag by. He lies awake at night,

Cold, haunted by the knowledge that his name

Is from the book of honour razèd quite.

His future, once so bright, has now been spoiled;

His past’s no longer what it used to be.

Admirers he once had have all recoiled,

Wiped tapes, burnt photos, pulped biography,

And all the rest forgot for which he toiled.

The texte here comes from Shakespeare's sonnet 25.

For the glose, I chose to use 5-line stanzas rhyming ababa.

4-line or 8-line stanzas are more usual, but any kind of ode stanza is acceptable. 

This bit is from-- ... sa-8932612

Here is an example of a variation on the glosa:

Princess Dreams 

by Lori Jaye

It is a good thing to be rich and strong,

but it is a better thing to be loved.


To be a fair princess was my heart’s dream

living a perfect life - so it would seem

servants to do all the chores I disliked

I could live as I pleased, do as I liked

I would be revered, remembered in song

It is a good thing to be rich and strong

Until a real princess stole all news shows,

brought media focus to royal woes

I had thought a charmed life was worry free

then I saw that that dream wasn’t for me

still might be nice to live among white-gloved

but it is a better thing to be loved.

It is a good thing to be rich and strong,

but it is a better thing to be loved.
Last edited by toniclark on September 4th, 2015, 6:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: May 1st, 2010, 2:37 pm

September 3rd, 2015, 9:23 am #2

I probably posted this elsewhere in this forum a while back, but here again is my attempt at an Oulipian glosa:
The thread-fractal
I imagine this midnight moment's forest:Something else is aliveBeside the clock's lonelinessAnd this blank page where my fingers move.– From  "The Thought-Fox" by Ted Hughes
I immerse this midsummer monarchy's foretop:   
Where you perceive that noon hour's desert,Think night thick with virgin sprigsin Stygian bosque and coppice.I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Somewhat embryonic is all-embracing;nothing identical is dead  –
dog, cow, owl, crowquickening, moving, breathing.   
Something else is alive
bestriding the clodhopper's  longbow.Behind the sundial's gregaritycondor (or woodcock or glowworm?)lurks, and lazily luxuriates
beside the clock's loneliness
and this bleak pagoda where my finitudes mugthat teeming ream when your toes are still(that awkward avatar's all awashin eddies and swirls of disappearing ink)and this blank page where my fingers move.
[Oulipo: This is an attempt at an Oulipian variant of the glosa form.I was working from the example in Oulipo Compendium p 94, which I don't fully understand.The idea is that each strophe consists of a set of oulipian variations on a line of the source text (cabeza).  They recommend rotating the order of the variant lines in sestina fashion, but I thought it would be easier to follow if I didn't.  So here the order is: 1) S+7, 2) antonymic translation, 3) univocal, 4) no nouns or no verbs, 5) original line. ]