Aug 21, 2009


Because I was the link in the blog chain yesterday, I moved the Passion for Poetry to today and the next installment of the serial will be tomorrow.

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Five hundred years ago, poetic forms tended to be tests of raw skill. A poet needed as many as thirty-six rhyme words for some of the more monstrous concoctions. Compounding the difficulties were the riddles, puns, and acrostics that were supposed to be imbedded in the verses.

Fortunately, most of these poetic forms are mercifully only museum pieces now, but a few of those old, French forms survived to the modern age. One of the oldest and simplest of them all is the triolet.

Going back to at least the thirteenth century, triolets are short, usually witty poems, just perfect for tucking into a box of candy or some flowers. Of the triolet's eight lines, the first line is used three times (the French “tri” meaning three, which gives the triolet its name) and the second line is repeated once. So the requirement for rhyme words is easy, and the eight lines really come down to only five different ones--easier than it seems at first.

a - Rhymes with 1st line.
A - Identical to 1st line.
a - Rhymes with 1st line.
b - Rhymes with 2nd line.
A - Identical to 1st line.
B - Identical to 2nd line.

Here’s my example:

I look into your eyes
and you show me the truth
but can this be wise?
I look into your eyes
and search for the lies
though you’ve given me proof.
I look into your eyes
and you show me the truth.

And just because I used the blog chain to duck my poetry post yesterday, I did a second triolet, which I think actually turned out better.

A love must be pure to live for forever
such as the one between you and I,
a love incorrupt that nothing can sever
a love must be pure to live for forever,
a goal to be sought, life’s greatest endeavor
a challenge to pass, the gods to defy.
A love must be pure to live for forever
such as the one between you and I.

For some other examples, click on one of these links:

How Great My Grief by Thomas Hardy

The Art In Being Ignored by Chris Baker

Valentine by Wendy Cope


Unknown said...

So when will you be ready to sell your collection of need to!

Jamie D. said...

Beautiful examples...and fun style. Good job writing *two*! :-)

C R Ward said...

Fish: I've been thinking about it . . .
Jamie: Thank you! Once I got the hang of it this was a fun style.

DniC said...

Oh wow. I don't think I've ever seen this before. And it's a good deal harder to write than I'd thought. (I tried. And failed. Miserably. I'll leave the poem-writing to the poets.) Kudos for writing two. =]

Harriet M. Welsch said...

I love triolets -- they always sound like songs waiting to happen. It's all that repetition I guess. I love yours!

C R Ward said...

DniC: Keep trying! I made about four terrible attempts before I got the first one right.

Harriet: Thanks for stopping by!