So basically, what I want to say is something along the lines of, "He begins his story with a rhyme" or, "He tells a poem and begins his story". What's the word for "tell" here? Is there a verb phrase for this in Japanese?

(By "rhyme" or "poem", I mean something like a "言い習わし" (short Japanese saying), but in the form of a poem. The closest word I could find to it was "散文" and that's why I am using it, but I am open to any suggestions.)

Edit: Can I use,



  • 6
    散文 is "prose," so, normal sentences that don't have rhymes or rhythmic patterns. Is that what you were imagining?
    – Leebo
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 22:10
  • @Leebo Oh, in that case no, that's not what I had on mind. It's like a long proverb but in the form of a poem, so it does have a rhyme. The problem is that I am translating from Turkish, and the word for it is "tekerleme" there, but it directly translates to "nursery rhyme" and that's not really what I am looking for.
    – pamuk
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 6:37
  • 1
    @pamuk Unfortunately Japanese doesn't have much proverbs in rhyme. I think you should first explain what it is like, then look for the verb. Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 8:25
  • @broccoliforest That's understandable. Thank you!
    – pamuk
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


In your case, simple verbs like 語る and 話す should work because the poem is just a part of his story. Or you can avoid any verb corresponding to "tell" and say something like 彼の話は詩から始まりました. (詩で物語を始める is a little puzzling.)

You may not need them, but verbs commonly used with verse/poetry include:

  • 語る (this can refer to dramatic storytelling like that of a documentary film)
  • 朗読する ("to recite")
  • 暗唱する ("to recite (from memory)")
  • 歌う/唄う (with melody, like a bard)
  • 詠む (usually for Japanese haiku/waka)

For example, you can say 彼の話はトルコに伝わる詩の暗唱から始まった.

  • Thank you very much for your detailed answer, this was very helpful!
    – pamuk
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 11:43

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