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Bogato – Verse Form of the Ancient Lithians

Bogato is a verse form which originated in Lithia. It is one of the most compact expressions of thought. However, despite its brevity a Bogato poem can convey bold imagery, tell a story, or set a mood.

The Bogato form is thought to be very old. Evidence from cave paintings and stelae suggest that Bogato was in use long before the Lithians had an alphabet. Even expressed in glyphs, Bogato communicates ideas and feelings very effectively.


General Structure

A Bogato verse contains three lines, in the form ABC. It does not rhyme, although an author will sometimes make an exception for humorous or dramatic effect. The rhyming includes AAA, AAB, and ABB. ABA rhyming is almost never seen. Punctuation and capitalization are optional, used as needed to convey the idea.

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Bogato Forms

Bogato has four forms, each successively more difficult to master. The form names are based upon the number of syllables in a complete poem. Each form also has a popular name. The forms are:

Bogato 9 -- Children's Bogato
Bogato 7 -- Popular Bogato
Bogato 5 -- Masters' Bogato
Bogato 3 -- Philosopher's Bogato

The term "Bogato form" may be shortened to "Bogato." A Bogato verse may be referred to simply as "a Bogato."

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The form of Bogato 9 -- Children's Bogato

In Bogato 9, the first and second lines each contain two feet of iambic or trochaic (iambic dimeter or trochaic dimeter). The third line is a single syllable.

Iambic structure of Bogato 9 
x / x /
x / x /
/
This far I came. 
This much I did. 
Good. 
Trochaic structure of Bogato 9 
/ x / x 
/ x / x 
Eat your peas and 
Eat your pasta. 
Now. 

 
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The form of Bogato 7 -- Popular Bogato

In Bogato 7, the first and second lines each contain one foot of anapestic or dactylic (anapestic monometer or dactylic monometer). The third line is a single syllable.

Anapestic structure of Bogato 7  
x x /
x x /
/
Here I laughed.
Here I cried
More.
Dactylic structure of Bogato 7  
/ x x 
/ x x 
This is the 
Whole of my 
Life. 

 
It is rare to see a Bogato 7 offering which attempts to accent the second syllable (x / x). It may be used for humor or dramatic effect.

x / x
x / x
/

Linguini!
Porcini!
Yum!

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The form of Bogato 5 -- Master's Bogato

In Bogato 5, the first and second lines each contain one foot of iambic or trochaic (iambic monometer or trochaic monometer). The third line is a single syllable.

Iambic structure of Bogato 5  
x / 
x /
/
 
The land 
And sea 
Meet. 
Trochaic structure of Bogato 5  
/ x 
/ x 
 
Eat it. 
Beat it. 
Now. 

 
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The form of Bogato 3 -- Philosopher's Bogato

In Bogato 3, the first and second lines each contain one foot of monoic (monoic monometer). The third line is a single syllable (also monoic monometer).

Monoic structure of Bogato 3
/
/
/

Land
Sea
Air

 
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Cultural Aspects

Bogato is easy to use, but often difficult to understand. Indeed, the old expression "twenty minutes to learn, a lifetime to master" certainly applies to Bogato. It may be useful to explain the cultural context of Bogato.

It must be understood that for the most part Bogato is not a crafted art form. Rather, it has sprung naturally from the cultural disposition of the Lithians. It is used abundantly in everyday life, not as replacement for common speech, but to teach, express wonder, and make serious points.

Of course, over the centuries the form has become more stylized. Anthropologists and literary paleontologists agree generally that while the Bogato 9 form evolved into the Bogato 7 form quite naturally, Bogato 5 and Bogato 3 were very likely crafted or contrived on purpose, probably by Lithia's earliest priest classes. Please refer to the discussion below.

Cultural aspects of Bogato 9 -- Children's Bogato

Bogato 9, Children's Bogato, is the easiest form to use, and children learn it naturally as part of growing up. However, as they grow toward puberty they abandon the form and move to Bogato 7. Many families consider it rite of passage when their child no longer uses the childish form.

Bogato 9 is also the form of children's aphorisms. It is used to teach the child short lessons in wisdom or morality. Whether the lesson cautions the child to wash behind the ears, not fight with others, or to finish a meal, retention of the idea by the child is remarkably effective.

An interesting cultural sidelight is that adult Lithians will often return to the Bogato 9 form under three circumstances: 1) harsh discipline for a child who has passed to the Bogato 7 level; 2) in derisive speech to another adult; and 3) when under extreme stress.

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Cultural aspects of Bogato 7 -- Popular Bogato

Bogato 7, Popular Bogato, is widely used by adults in all walks of life. Along with Bogato 9, it is viewed as the "real" Bogato. As mentioned earlier, Bogato 7 is not a replacement for common speech, but is used when compact, powerful expression of ideas or images is essential. Lithians consider it indispensable.

While Bogato is obviously not the only literary form of the Lithians, it is a cultural oddity that Bogato verses are used in everyday Lithian life in surprising ways. Bogatos are used as love poems, in brief weather reports, as curses, and in technical communication. Even in popular action films, Lithians do not find it unreasonable for heroes and villains to recite a Bogato before dispatching each other.

Many a Lithian will compose a personal Bogato for the day while preparing for work. In addition, there are many local Bogato contests, usually held in pubs or school auditoriums.

There have been experiments with setting Bogatos to music. Generally, Bogatos work well when read with "music under," but because they do not admit readily to a multi-stanza form, they do not work well as song. An exception is when a compelling national or romantic sentiment, expressed in Bogato form, is adapted to serve as the chorus in a non-Bogato song.

There have been other experiments with painting Bogatos on canvas, representing them on the World Wide Web, etc., but Bogato is "written to be read," and most poets caution the reader against silently scanning the words.

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Cultural aspects of Bogato 5 -- Master's Bogato

Bogato 5, Master's Bogato, is respected but not popular. The reason may be simply that it is harder to use than Bogato 7, or perhaps it is because it does not resonate in the ears of the people. However, it represents a refinement over the commoner Bogato forms and should be mentioned here.

Bogato 5 very likely had its roots in the brief ascendancy of a priest class in ancient Lithia. Cultural historians suggest that it was an attempt by the powerful priests to distance themselves from the "common" people, to add mystery, and to project elite wisdom or power.

Ironically, the priests were brought down by three factors, all related to their use of Bogato forms: 1) if they used Bogato 9, there were treating the people as children; 2) if they used Bogato 7, they could not project distance; 3) if they used Bogato 5, the messages were alien to the people.

There is a fourth factor. A common expression in Lithia is "Bogato doesn't lie." Bogato is a great leveler. It betrays the proud, the vain, the insincere. The Bogatos of the priests could not mask their desire to dominate the people, and it was Bogato that prevailed, not the priests.

Bogato 5 was rediscovered in the last century. Scholars reintroduced it, and it has become clear to all that it is a powerful, and frankly very difficult, form of Bogato. As mentioned, although the people do not love the form as they do Bogato 7, they recognize that Bogato 5 is indeed the Master's Bogato. It is studied by a few dedicated artist/scholars and those who master it are widely respected.

There is a popular expression: "One person's Bogato is as good as another," but this is simply a democratic sentiment. The Bogato Prize, given by the Bogato Institute, has always been awarded to a Bogato Master. Although a Bogato 7 poem may win, it is still submitted by a Master, and it is far more likely that the poem will be written in Bogato 5.

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Cultural aspects of Bogato 3 -- Philosopher's Bogato

Bogato 3, Philosopher's Bogato, is the rarest and least understood form. Its origins are completely unknown, although it is obviously related to Bogato 9, Bogato 7, and Bogato 5. It is presumed to have evolved from Bogato 5, but no one can say for sure.

Bogato 3 is highly contradictory. It is used only by Lithia's philosophers. Even Bogato Masters find it unwieldy. While the people generally consider Bogato 3 to be obscure and incomprehensible, the great thinkers contend exactly the opposite. They claim that messages in Bogato 3 are common and simple, in the same sense that hydrogen is the commonest and simplest element in the universe.

The philosophers suggest that Bogato 3 was more discovered than invented. They claim that if one were to listen closely to people (especially young children) one would hear Bogato 3. They also point out that the third line of every Bogato is in reality a line of Bogato 3.

All Lithians are philosophers, but they are also one of those rare peoples who elevate their greatest thinkers. They demonstrate affection and respect for those who study the nature of existence. So the people are content in general to leave Bogato 3 to the philosophers.

Is Bogato 3 a deception or manipulation? Lithians don't seem to think so. And the philosophers have no quarrel with its complex simplicity. They point out, cryptically, "Bogato 3 doesn't lie, but neither does it tell the truth. You tell it the truth."

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Crafting Bogato

Bogato can convey both the abstract and concrete.

For communicating emotion or wonder, Bogato uses few words buts leaves much for the mind and spirit. A great Bogato turns the listener's theatre of the mind into a huge amphitheater.

Example (from William Saroyan):

In the time
Of your life,
Live.

Alternately and contradictorally, Bogato is very pungent. It says much and leaves nothing remaining for the mind or spirit to ponder.

Example (from an action film):

Get your things.
Come with me.
Now.

The commonest content structure for Bogato is as follows:

Line 1 -- Introduction
Line 2 -- Illumination
Line 3 -- Conclusion

Example:

To see the light
And not the dark.
Blind.

Experimentation is possible. Successful Bogatos have been written which begin with a conclusion and end with an introductory concept.

Example:

Ecstasy?
Eating a
Prune.

In addition, Bogato 3 stanzas often contain three symmetrical concepts. All may be viewed as conclusions, or as introductions, for that matter.

Example:

Blood
Sweat
Tears

Multiple stanzas are possible, but rare. The best Bogatos contain only one stanza. As of this writing, there have been no discoveries of epic poems written using the Bogato form.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Bogato the same as Bagoto?

No. Bagoto is a singsong form, one line of dactylic hexameter, terminating with a monoic "punch." It is derisively called the "yabada" form, because a line goes:

      Yabada yabada yabada yabada yabada yabada ya

    It is considered equally irritating whether you accent the first, second, or third syllable. In various truncated and transmogrified forms, the actual syllables above have manifested themselves in 1) Porky Pig's windup to Warner Brothers' cartoons, 2) Fred Flinstone's expression of enthusiasm, and 3) a popular term on Seinfeld.

What is the origin of the term "Bogato?"

The origin of the term "Bogato" has been frequently debated.  There is no fully sustained theory. Contending theories are:

1) It is derived from an early Lithian word whose meaning has been lost.
2) It is borrowed from an early non-Lithian culture.
3) It is named after an ancient practitioner.
4) It is a pleasant nonsense word suggesting the rhythm of poetry.

Is there bad Bogato?

There are few objective standards when a verse form is so widely used in a culture. When a mother hears her child's first Bogato, can she find it bad? If a Bogato 3 stanza is incomprehensible, is it bad?

    The truth is that the spectrum of Bogato runs from the stellar to the truly dismaying. Fortunately, it seems that only the better Bogato works are published in permanent form. The poorer works are ephemeral. They last only for a day, such as the following newspaper weather report:

    Rainy now.
    Tomorrow
    Fog.

    This is terrible Bogato, but since it will be replaced by another equally poor one tomorrow, no one cares too much.

What is good Bogato?

    It is as difficult to describe good Bogato as it is to describe bad Bogato. Who can say? A Lithian aphorism for any imponderable is:

    Who can say?
    Who can say?
    Who?

    This is nicely done, because it works when recited in either anapestic and dactylic meters.

    In general, good Bogato:

    - Has firm meter
    - Has the exact syllable count
    - Does not seem stilted
    - Expresses the idea completely

    That leaves a lot of latitude. The subtleties of good Bogato may include:

    - A clever rhyme
    - A clever juxtaposition of ideas
    - A surprise ending

    Tradition need not always be followed, but tradition suggests that:

    - Bogato 9 be used for communication with children
    - Bogato 7 be used for most of the concerns of life
    - Bogato 5 be used for study, Institute competition, or to show mastery
    - Bogato 3 be used for the most formal answers to questions of existence

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Other Links

For those interesting in expanding the knowledge of and facility with Bogato, the links below will soon be a reality.

Great Bogato Poets
Selected Bogatos
American Bogato Society
Bogato competition winners
More about Lithians

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