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Sunday Scribblings #115: Dancing is Poetry of the Feet

So the post title, changed a little from – “Dancing is the poetry of the foot.” is borrowed from a quote by John Dryden. And doesn’t it strike so true? Dance is poetry in motion, with all those rhythms within both. This week, for Poetic Sundays, I bring you a poetic form that not only encapsulates this quote but is also perfect for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15- Oct 15).

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #115: Dancing is Poetry of the Feet

Poetic Sundays: Cueca Chilena Verse

(aka Dancing is Poetry of the Feet)

Today’s poetic form is the Cueca Chilena which is a Chilean dance song. The verses are sung to the energetic Cueca Chilena, which was officially declared as the national dance of Chile on this very date (September 18th, that is) in 1979 (source). And given it is also Hispanic Heritage Month, this form is perfect for today’s Poetic Sundays episode.

So What is the Cueca Chilena (or Cueca Chileana) Poem?

As I looked online, I found various versions of this verse. One talked about it as a septet while another mentioned it as a verse of 8 lines. A few others pointed to the Cueca being 14 lines long and then a couple more. One commonality however, was the use of refrain in one line with an added yes or si at the beginning of the repeated line.

So today, I am picking one of them at random to feature here: the 14 line version as I saw it in a couple of places (check references/ht section below for sources of all the versions).

The Cueca Chilena is a 14-line verse usually written to accompany the energetic Cueca Chilena dance (the national dance of Chile, proclaimed as the same on the 18th of Septencer in 1979). It is composed of three distinct parts – a rhymed quatrain (could be a copla, redondo, or a cuarteta), a sequidilla (eight-line syllabic form), and ending with a pareado (which is a distich or couplet).

ht, Reference, and Further Reading 

The Cueca Chilena Form’s Characteristics

So the Cueca Chilena’s elements are that at its most basic, it is:

  • stanzaic: is broken into three distinct stanza types – a quartet, an eight-line sequidilla, and ending with a pareado (couplet)
  • rhymed: the rhyming for the quartet can be one of three different types (abab/ or xbxb / or abba); the sequidilla can be either abababab or xbxbxbxb (ie the pentasyllabic lines should always rhyme); and the end couplet rhymes
  • syllabic: the quartet is octosyllabic; the sequidilla is composed of alternating lines of seven and five syllables each; while the couplet can be one of a few different syllabic styles – pentasyllabic/seven and five like the sequidilla/or made up of two lines of eight and five syllables.
  • refrained: the fifth line of the sequidilla is a repeat of the fourth (with the addition of a si or yes to the words for emphasis)

Notes and Tips

  • Pick the form you wish to use to write the cueca chilena (could be the septet or the eight-line version, or the 14-line featured here).
  • Listen to a few songs for this dance
  • Watch the dance! And learn the steps.. it can help build a rhythm if you want to be able to use the poem you write eventually for dancing. (Note: I will hopefully write such a poem later but today’s attempt is just a start at keeping in line with the form)
  • You could make it a dialog between the dancers…

My Attempt at Dancing is Poetry!

Dance With My Love Today
She said, “I’ll dance with joy today
My love is on his way to me
With his arms filled with a bouquet
and yes, my favorite – coffee!

My arms hurt so already.
Love is not cheap! No,
not cheap, and me, not ready!
And I still don’t know
yes, and I still, still, don’t know
does she love cocoa?
Oh no, is it tea? Coffee?
Yay, that’s it! Bingo!!

Love is not cheap! No, it’s not!
It is worth, in fact, a lot!”
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites

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Cueca Chilena: Dancing is Poetry


On My Blog and the Homefront

While I had hoped to write more than nothing this past week, or since my last Sunday Scribblings, it didn’t happen, just didn’t. But there is always another day and week, and this week

This past week, just the one post

We were busy packing (and ordering/buying items till the very last minute) for my son’s sophomore year at college! As of yesterday, he is all unpacked in his on-campus apartment at Cal Poly SLO… We are back home, missing him already, and I keep asking my high-schooler to say hello from her room 🙂 Another couple of years, and we will be empty-nesters!

Upcoming (Hopefully More Dancing and Poetry Too)

On My Blog and On the Homefront

Well, not sure though I hope to get more posts in 🙂


Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)

  • Literary birthdays this week include: Rebecca Skloot, Penelope Mortimer, William Golding and Salil Chowdhury on the 19th of Sept; George R.R. Martin, Jude Deveraux, Upton Sinclair, and on Sept 20th; H.G. Wells, Leonard Cohen, Stephen King, and on the 21st of Sept; Ramdhari Singh Dinkar on the 23rd; F. Scott Fitzgerald on Sept 24th; Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Kristin Hannah, Shel Silverstein, Luanne Rice, and William Faulkner on the 25th of September
  • Banned Books Week – Sept 18th – 24th
  • Sept 22nd is Hobbit Day and Dear Diary Day
  • It’s , well : National Punctuation Day, on the 24th, of this month; you see, 🙂 (sorry!)
  • Sept 25th observes Math Storytelling Day and National Comic Book Day as well as National Open the Magic Day to celebrate the magic of picture books..

Foodie Celebrations

Other Celebrations and Observations

Related Reads

Wrapped Up: My Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. Will you be attempting to write the Cueca Chilena? Or dance it, for dancing is poetry, right? And, of course, do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

11 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #115: Dancing is Poetry of the Feet

  1. What a fun poetic form. Cueca Chilena sounds like a delightful poem to try. The addition of the “yes” or “si” adds a lot of interest, I think, much like additions in improv.

    Empty-nesting arrives quickly, but it has its own joys. I’m glad you are remembering to enjoy your time with your high schooler.

  2. This is interesting. I am actually not familiar with Cueca Chilena so, I am happy to stumble upon your post and learned something new today. Your poem is beautiful. How I would love to listen to a spoken version of it.

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