This week I am celebrating ten years since we arrived in Zambia, so I have planned a week of ‘Ten’ words. Today’s words all have a literary basis.
A poem of ten lines
from Greek deka ten and stitchos a row or verse
I love the sound of this word, not least because I would assume it had something to do with sewing rather than poetry. I found this website that gives you far more information about the various forms that a decastich can take: www.thepoetsgarret.com/decastich.html
In the meantime, here is an example taken from my favourite children’s poetry book: Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls (you’ll see why…)
It must go-
Guess I know!
I wound it tight,
And greased it nice
(c) Mary Mapes Dodge
There is also decasyllable: a verse-line or a word of ten syllables. I fear a decastich of decasyllables might be impossible, but it was an interesting challenge to my children at breakfast this morning to come up with a word of ten syllables.
“Supercallifragilisticexpi-” said my son, coming to an abrupt halt.
I proposed antidisestablishmentarian. My daughter can’t say that (my son didn’t try).
The decalogue is more commonly known as The Ten Commandments, as given to Moses by God in the bible – set out in Exodus 20. 1-17. It’s derivation logos is the Greek for a discourse, per the dictionary, although I’ve always understood it as ‘word’… so decalogue would be Ten Words.
Ten syllables, ten words and ten lines. I think I should invent decastanza for a poem of ten verses; or decachapitre for a book of ten chapters?
My final offering for today is Decameron. This was Boccaccio’s book of 100 tales written by ten young people and supposed to be told in ten days (from Greek hemera a day). It was written around 1350 and is a frame story. If you wish to read it you can buy it as a Penguin classic here.
On Thursday: tens in a mathematical context