Equilateral Proverbs: A Poetry Challenge

by James A. Tweedie

Construct a rhyming, rhythmic intelligible proverb or saying where the first and last words in each line rhyme. Twin couplets are preferred but not required. My examples alternate trochaic tetrameters and pentameters, but any form is acceptable so long as it is consistent. And if you can’t think up a proverb, then any poem on any subject will be fine, so long as each line begins and ends with the same rhyme. Post and share your inspired “Equilaterals” in the comments section.


White the day and black the night.
Light reveals and darkness veils from sight.


Died to sin? Or sin denied?
Pride denied may lead to deicide.


Bury what is dead or scary.
Marry what is extraordinary.


Thirst is rare when one’s submersed.
First and last determines best and worst.


Yin and Yang are kith and kin.
In the end is not where we begin.


Glitz and glitter—opposites.
It’s the pits to be in the obits.


Post yours in the comments below.



NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments.

CODEC Stories:

56 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    Note: This doesn’t mean the entire poem has to use the same beginning/end rhyme all the way through. Just so long as it has a rhyme pattern like some regular poetic form.

    Good luck. (Personally I find these “gimmicks” help make me become better at creating regular poetic forms).

    It’s sort of like the old vaudeville joke where someone new to New York asks a passerby “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” And the other person says, “Practice, practice, practice.”

    • James A. Tweedie

      Nice couplet/proverb, Paul. You caught the spirit of the thing perfectly!

  2. Stephen Dickey

    Seek your greener pastures, out on other slopes or where you will,
    But the grass is always greener on the same side of the hill.

  3. Roy Eugene Peterson

    God said not to spare the rod.
    Claude went fishing for some cod.

    Plowman plowed behind a plow.
    How dirty is plowman now?

    Vance was searching for romance.
    Chance overtook him at the dance.

    Burns was a poet with longing and yearns.
    Turns out he was a farmer who learns.

    James went up in fiery flames.
    Blames his loss on stupid games.

    Queen of Corona made a scene.
    Queen was fat while he was lean.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Roy, that first couplet had me rolf! I had an 18th century Scottish ancestor who was brought before the Elders of his kirk and rebuked for having skipped worship to go fishing on the Sabbath. In any case, this is a nice twisty play on the word, “rod!”

      The rest and the whole is quite impressive. Good go!

      • Roy Eugene Peterson

        I just knew you would “catch” the one about the rod! Thank you, James, for your story.

  4. Mia

    Meetings of minds, warm greetings,
    Fleeting worlds, time bewitching.

    Stay, stand your ground and slay,
    Pray to keep the fool at bay.

    Intentions create dimensions
    Foundations of rock or rocky subversions.

    Blind to the grind,
    Mind in tune with the sublime.

    Blame does shame,
    Lame is the fool that plays that game.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Mia, my favorite line in the lot, “Pray to keep the fool at bay.,” proves that sometimes truth can be funny and serious at the same time!

      • Mia

        Thank you James and SCP for another fun challenge.
        I would also like to say how much I have enjoyed reading all the proverbs on here.

        friends not seen but yet are met
        devise poems of sage advice

  5. Mark F. Stone

    Practice Makes Perfect

    How do you make it to Carnegie Hall?
    Vow not to turn down a gig, big or small.
    Take enough time to make practice habitual.
    Make mock recitals an every night ritual.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Mark, Your wit is as quick as ever. Funnee! I see the potential for another challenge hidden in your poetic riposte to a prose comment!

  6. Warren Bonham

    When men live full of fear, wondering why they were made, they will dwell on how quickly their own star will fade.

    Men who dwell on how each has God’s image displayed, will all know they were fearfully, wonderfully made.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Warren, This has a nice reversal of thought and a good theological twist with more than a plate-ful of truth in it. Thanks.

  7. Carl Kinsky

    Tired of working but still hardwired,
    Mired in chores, so glad I’m retired.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Carl, yours is the first to which my immediate response was to say, “Ament!”

  8. Carol C.

    A child that’s taught no moral restraint
    will fall far short from being a saint.

    The chip you carry upon your shoulder,
    if nursed will grow into a boulder.

    Words have a way of flying south
    when one inserts foot into mouth.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Ha ha ha ha, Carol! What a great set of truthful mirth! Proverbs to ponder!

  9. Paul Buchheit

    Denied their A’s, my students, wild with pride,
    complied with calls for my tyrannicide.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Paul, I remember during my undergraduate years receiving all “A”s on class assignments but a “B” final grade. After inquiring I found that the instructor was up for tenure and was told she was giving too many “A” grades. So she chose several students at random and arbitrarily lowered their grade. I was well aware of the politics and game-playing associated with tenure so, out of respect for the teacher’s dilemma, dropped my plan for an appeal. Even so, as a university Prof, my wife had to deal with student anger and threats over grades every term. So your proverbial couplet is both well-done and, unfortunately, an all-too accurate description of the way things are these days.

  10. Carl Kinsky

    Ever so proud at appearing clever,
    Never admitting that his endeavor
    Loses readers with the words he uses,
    Chooses coarse slang that appalls the Muses.
    Pity the boor that thinks cussing’s witty –
    Pretty some rhymes while others are sh-tty.

    • Jan

      Where is the ‘laughed ’til I cried’ emoji when you need it? Love this. Thanks for the rofl level humor–needed it this morning.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Even better is this one: rotflmao. It stands for “Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.”

    • James A. Tweedie

      Witty and sh-tty! Lol. Fortunately there are far more of the former than the latter here at SCP! Nice extended flow of thought as you met the challenge head-on and did it well.

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Love it, Mo!
      Why don’t you this contract man, while you’re a little plastered?
      I wrote the small print and I can assure you I’m a b*st*rd.

  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Good fences, Frost said, make good neighbors.
    At least they aren’t at drawn sabers.

  12. Morrison Handley-Schachler

    When the false promise of first love has set your hormones surgin’,
    Then recollect a man can be, but not become, a virgin.

    • Jan

      Brilliant. Sad. Wish we all were as wise and thoughtful in foresight as it is possible to be in hindsight.

  13. Jan

    What love that truly never fails, though troubles come to all
    The one whose perfect love prevails, to raise you when you fall

    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Always good to be reminded. Very neatly written and comforting in troubled times.

      • Jan

        Morrison, thank you for your kind words; I’m so glad to hear that you found them comforting.

  14. Joshua C. Frank

    All those who will not heed God’s call
    Fall hard and fast, so warns St. Paul.

    In a life that’s filled with sin,
    Begin to learn: sin cannot win.

    Obey your parents all the way.
    They want you to do well someday.

    Mary never was contrary.
    Nary a sin—extraordinary!

  15. C.B. Anderson

    Always walk down the selfsame hallways,
    Today, as in a very new way
    You showed your prince to be a true toad.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Ha! You doubled up on that last one! To which you might add, “Two-toed sloth composed a shrewd ode.”

      I didn’t think there would be so much creative fun from so many people.

      Mute musicals are moot.
      Cute cuticles? A hoot!

      That’s it.

      No more from me.

      CD, I can’t see you, can you see me?

      Amen, I did it again . . .


  16. Norma Pain

    You are all so clever, I failed in each endeavor… no, that’s not right!
    First word must rhyme with last word cursed… is that correct?
    Casanova drove her to Dover…. huh!?
    Left her there, sad and bereft. How am I doing now?

    • James A. Tweedie


      You are funny and clever in each endeavor yourself! I particularly like #3 which works in some locales but not others, depending on local accents!

      I’m glad you took the time.

  17. Austin Martin

    We are living in the age of madness,
    Just ask the woman who they say has a penis.

  18. Evan Mantyk

    Jim, I was shaking my head at how many people weren’t following the rules and then I wrote one and realized I didn’t quite follow them either…

    Though promising a precious thing,
    Equality tastes emptily,
    Communism comes as prison,
    Evolution’s no solution…
    Tradition holds our lives’ true mission.

  19. Alexis

    Face a failure’s rough embrace
    Misplace your pride to win the race.
    Efface the mark mistakes debase.


  20. David Watt

    Woke’s a leftist masterstroke-
    Smoke to shield a socialistic yoke.

  21. Mike Bryant

    A label lies so I’ll decide which fable’s wise.
    I’ll table guys and gals who fly unstable skies.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.