by George J. Dance

Poet P.K

Poet P.K. Page reads from Planet Earth-0

A glosa (sometimes called a glose or a gloss in English) is a 15th-century Spanish poetic form popularized in the 21st century by Canadian poet P.K. Page.


The glosa was originally a verse form, but now is written in free verse as well.

The glosa has two parts. The first part, called the text, texte, or cabeza, consists of lines (usually four) or a stanza (usually a quatrain) from a well-known poem.[1] The poet does not write these lines, and is not free to alter them: he adds them, similarly to an epigraph, but as part of the poem's text. Also unlike an epigraph, (since it is purportedly well-known), the original poem and its author do not need to be credited.

The second part of the poem is the gloss, or glosa proper. "The formal rule describes the glosa as consisting of four ten-line stanzas, with the consecutive lines of the texte being used as the tenth line (called the glossing) of each stanza. Furthermore, lines six and nine must rhyme with the borrowed tenth."[1]

Poets have varied the form considerably over the years. A reader of glosas "will find 4-, 5- and 8-line [stanzas]. They will be found written in free verse, with meter, and with rhyme."[1]

Variations include the placing of the lines of the text. "It can be the first line, the last line, or one inserted into the body of the stanza."

One interesting variation is to use the lines of the text as both the first and last lines of each stanza in the gloss. "When the first line is repeated as the refrain at the end of a poem the stanza form is referred to as an Envelope."[1]


The glosa dates back to the late 14th or early 15th centuries, when it was composed at the Spanish court.[1] The original Spanish glosa consisted of 44 lines (as above, a 4-line texte followed by 4 10-line stanzas), written in syllabic verse, with lines 6, 9 and 10 rhyming. Popular at the Spanish court in those centuries, the form has but it has been little used since.[2]

The best-known contemporary glosa is P.K. Page's "Planet Earth," which in 2001 by special resolution of the United Nations was read simultaneously in New York, the Antarctic, and the South Pacific to celebrate the International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. Page's collection of poetry that included "Planet Earth" as its title poem was nominated for the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize.[3] Page's poem uses "In Praise of Ironing" by Pablo Neruda as its texte.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Robert W. Birch, "Not to the Letter of the Law: Poetry in the spirit of the glosa,", Web, July 9, 2011.
  2. Search result for Glosa, Ben Jonson blog. Web, Dec. 28, 2015.
  3. Peter Scowen, P.K. Page dies at age 93. The Globe and Mail, January 14, 2010. Web, Jan. 15, 2010.
  4. "Planet Earth by P.K. Page," Nexus blog, Web, July 9, 2011.

External linksEdit

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