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Tinker

The Triversen

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Explore the Craft of Writing
American Verse

The Triversen, (triple verse sentence), is a sentence broken into three lines. It has also been referred to as a "verset", a surge of language in one breath.

The Triversen was originated by William Carlos Williams as a "native American" poetic form of the 20th century. According to Lewis Turco in his Book of Forms, it is "one of the most innovative things done to modern free-verse." It introduced the "variable foot" to free verse. As best as I can understand, the "variable foot" is a phrase or portion of a sentence contained within a line.

The elements of the Triversen are:

  1. accentual. The rhythm of normal speech, employing 1 to 4 strong stresses per line.
  2. stanzaic, written in any number of tercets. Each tercet is a sentence broken into 3 uneven lines, each an independant clause.
  3. grammatical. The sentence is broken by line phrasing or lineating or sense units. There should be 3 units. L1 is a statement of fact or observation, L2 and L3 should set the tone, imply a condition or associated idea, or carry a metaphor for the original statement.
  4. unrhymed.
  5. alliterated. Alliteration accentuates stress.

     

    Eventide by Judi Van Gorder 8-20-05                                           

    Sunset silence is interrupted
    by a cursory
    "rib-it".

    Diminishing
    sun slides
    behind the horizon.

    Twilight arrives
    with a hic-up
    and a wink.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    On Gay Wallpaper by William Carlos Williams

    The green-blue ground
    is ruled with silver lines
    to say the sun is shining.

    And on this moral sea
    of grass or dreams like flowers
    or baskets of desires

    Heaven knows what they are
    between cerulean shapes"
    laid regularly round.

    Mat roses and tridentate
    leaves of gold
    threes, threes, and threes.

    Three roses and three stems
    the basket floating
    standing in the horns of blue.

    Repeated to the ceiling
    to the windows
    where the day

    Blow in
    the scalloped curtains to
    the sound of rain.

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