• Announcements

    • tonyv

      Registration -- to join PMO   03/14/2017

      Automatic registration has been disabled. If you would like to join the Poetry Magnum Opus online community, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page.
    • tonyv

      IMPORTANT: re Logging In to PMO ***Attention Members***   03/15/2017

      For security purposes, please use your email address when logging in to the site. This will prevent your account from being locked when malicious users try to log in to your account using your publicly visible display name. If you are unable to log in, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the page.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Tinker

Sestina, Sestine, or Sesta Rima and Double Sestina

1 post in this topic

Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
French Verse

The Sestina, Sestine or Sesta Rima (a song of sixes), is an intricate verse that includes repeating end-words in a strict pattern throughout the poem. The repetition allows the poet to shift from past to present or to create layers of meaning. Words that can have multiple uses either by way of being of different parts of speech or have different meanings can give the ensuing stanzas a different perspective. In the Sestina at its best, the end-words should relate to each other as an expressed whole.

The Sestina is generally attributed to Anault Daniel, ( - 1210) a French mathematician and poet. The troubadours of the 13th century adopted the form and it eventually became popular with the Italian poets, particularly Petrarch and Dante. This popular and well known verse form should not to be confused with the Spanish Sextilla which when written with a specific rhyme scheme is sometimes referred to as a "sestina".  The elements of the Sestina are:

  1. suited to a narrative because of its length and lack of rhyme. It gives the poet room to tell a story.
  2. in English most often iambic pentameter but sometimes iambic tetrameter. In French and Italian the Sestina is composed as syllabic verse. (whatever meter employed, the lines should be of equal length).
  3. contained in 39 lines, grouped into 6, sexains or sixains (6 line stanzas) followed by a 3 line unrhymed envoi or tornada (a salutation or sending forth) The last 3 lines gather up and deploy all 6 end-words.
  4. composed with 6 unrhymed end-words which must occur in every stanza but in a changing order that follow a set pattern. (this is known as lexical repetition) The order seems to turn the poem inside out, the first end-word eventually becomes the last. The pattern of end-words shift from stanza to stanza is a mathematical equation from which, if one were to write a 7th stanza, the pattern of the 1st stanza would be repeated in the 7th. (I read that, don't ask me to prove it.)

    The set pattern of shifting end-words from stanza to stanza is:

    1st stanza 1 2 3 4 5 6
    2nd stanza 6 1 5 2 4 3
    3rd stanza 3 6 4 1 2 5
    4th stanza 5 3 2 6 1 4
    5th stanza 4 5 1 3 6 2
    6th stanza 2 4 6 5 3 1
    L1 envoi 2-5 (even numbered end words incorporated internally into the line.)
    L2 envoi 4-3
    L3 envoi 6-1

    Tallinn sestina - an emigration of the heart by DC Martinson

    Where's Leigh? by Judi Van Gorder

    With sugar cookie tucked neatly inside
    the pocket of his blue plaid shirt, today
    is like all others now. He drives to the home
    where some of the ladies coyly watch for him
    while she sits staring mutely at her lap,
    mind grasping for an unremembered past.

    With eyes lowered he modestly walks past
    the ladies, pupils alter to the light inside,
    she sits where she always sits, hands on lap.
    There's a soft sun and a warm breeze today,
    he gruffly takes her into the garden with him,
    away from the ladies and the smell of the home.

    He fights the urge to take her back, back home,
    to whisper, yell and laugh as in the past.
    Her strange responses make no sense to him,
    he wants his bride, who has been locked inside
    the tiny aging body, to emerge today,
    to tease and play and snuggle in his lap.

    He used to juggle children on his lap,
    'was often noisy at their country home.
    Some sixty years, he still lives there today,
    the house is hushed in conflict with the past.
    At times too lonely to stay closed up inside
    he walks to town with cap pulled down, just him.

    A simple working man, most respect him,
    she was fun, the social one, the one who'd lap
    up the attention from others, yet inside
    their private world he was the hub at home,
    he led their children, then grandchildren past
    the snares of youth, to become his pride today.

    Too fast the years flowed to bring them to today.
    Though memory is gone, she calls for him,
    he hears his name from her lips and the past
    is now. He reaches for a hand in her lap,
    puts the cookie in her palm, her smile is his home.
    He checks his watch, too soon they'll call her inside.

    She won't recall today, she'll sit hands on lap,
    she asks for him, "where's Leigh?" "it's time for home"
    He steps past the ladies, tucking tears inside.

  • A Double Sestina can be composed in one of two ways.
     
    1. Sidney's Double Sestina, named for English poet, Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), simply doubles the frame of the Sestina, creating 12 sixains, followed by an envoy tercet. After the Sestina repetitive pattern of the 6 keywords has been completed in the first 6 stanzas, the same pattern and keywords are repeated in the next 6 stanzas. The envoy appears at the end of the poem not at the end of the first 6 stanzas.
      stanza 1: 1 2 3 4 5 6
      stanza 2: 6 1 5 2 4 3
      stanza 3: 3 6 4 1 2 5
      stanza 4: 5 3 2 6 1 4
      stanza 5: 4 5 1 3 6 2
      stanza 6: 2 4 6 5 3 1
      stanza 7: 1 2 3 4 5 6
      stanza 8: 6 1 5 2 4 3
      stanza 9: 3 6 4 1 2 5
      stanza 10: 5 3 2 6 1 4
      stanza 11: 4 5 1 3 6 2
      stanza 12: 2 4 6 5 3 1
      envoi: 5/2 3/4 1/6

      Ye Goatheard Gods by Sir Philip Sidney

    2. or Swinburne's Double Sestina attributed to Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909) writing 12 12-line stanzas with a 6 line envoi in the following pattern of end words.
      stanza 1: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
      stanza 2: 12 1 9 11 4 7 2 8 3 10 6 5
      stanza 3: 5 12 6 4 7 1 2 3 10 9 11 8
      stanza 4: 8 5 7 6 4 12 10 2 3 11 1 9
      stanza 5: 9 8 6 10 1 2 7 4 3 12 5 11
      stanza 6: 11 9 6 10 4 2 7 1 12 8 5 3
      stanza 7: 3 11 7 8 12 1 2 10 5 6 9 4
      stanza 8: 4 3 9 6 5 10 1 7 12 11 8 2
      stanza 9: 2 4 5 1 3 8 7 10 9 11 12 6
      stanza 10: 6 2 9 3 8 1 7 5 10 4 11 12
      stanza 11: 12 6 8 4 3 5 9 10 2 1 11 7
      stanza 12: 7 12 6 3 9 11 5 8 4 2 10 1
      envoi: 10/8 9/7 4/3 6/2 1/11 5/12
       
  • French Rhymed Sestina is a Sestina with rhyme in the 1st stanza, rhyme scheme abcbca. The rhyme scheme will change as the end words change position from stanza to stanza but they will always remain some combination of the rhyme of the 1st stanza.
     
  • Newman Sestina is an invented form of the Sestina introduced by Bob Newman at Vol Central. It is written as any standard Sestina would be written but the key or end words are anagrams, eg form/from ant/tan scared/sacred etc.
     
  • Well there really isn't an Ocarina but as suggested by Bob Newman at Vol Central, if a sestina was written with a combination of 8 key or end words, it would probably be named the Ocarina. The thought of tracking the sequential changes with the added 2 lines boggles my mind, but I am pretty sure it can be done.
     
  • Rhymed Double Sestina is attributed to Algernon Swinburne and follows the end word pattern of the Swinburne's Double Sestina and is rhymed. Stanza 1 is abcabcdefdef all other stanzas follow the end word pattern as designed unfolding a different rhyme scheme using the same 6 rhymes for each.
    Rhyme stanza 1: a b c a b c d e f d e f
    stanza 1: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    stanza 2: 12 1 9 11 4 7 2 8 3 10 6 5
    stanza 3: 5 12 6 4 7 1 2 3 10 9 11 8
    stanza 4: 8 5 7 6 4 12 10 2 3 11 1 9
    stanza 5: 9 8 6 10 1 2 7 4 3 12 5 11
    stanza 6: 11 9 6 10 4 2 7 1 12 8 5 3
    stanza 7: 3 11 7 8 12 1 2 10 5 6 9 4
    stanza 8: 4 3 9 6 5 10 1 7 12 11 8 2
    stanza 9: 2 4 5 1 3 8 7 10 9 11 12 6
    stanza 10: 6 2 9 3 8 1 7 5 10 4 11 12
    stanza 11: 12 6 8 4 3 5 9 10 2 1 11 7
    stanza 12: 7 12 6 3 9 11 5 8 4 2 10 1
    envoi: 10/8 9/7 4/3 6/2 1/11 5/12

    The Complaint of Lisa by Algernon Swinburne

  • Swinburne's Rhymed Sestina uses alternate rhyme and changes the end word patterns from the original Sestina pattern to maintain an alternate rhyme pattern. This is attributed to English poet Algernon Swinburne.

    Rhyme: a b a b a b

    End-word pattern:
    stanza 1: 1 2 3 4 5 6
    stanza 2: 6 1 4 3 2 5
    stanza 3: 5 6 1 4 3 2
    stanza 4: 2 5 6 1 4 3
    stanza 5: 3 2 1 6 5 4
    stanza 6: 4 3 2 5 6 1
    envoi: 1/4 2/3 5/6

  • The Tritrina is a very short form of the Sestina introduced by American poet Marie Ponsot. The elements of the Tritrina are:
    1. stanzaic, written in 3 tercets followed by a single line envoy.
    2. metric, iambic pentameter.
    3. written with an enfolding end word pattern of
      stanza 1: 1 2 3
      stanza 2: 3 1 2
      stanza 3: 2 3 1
      envoi: 1 2 3

      Aleluja - 1 by DC Martinson

      I talk with my God through my missal.
      I'm not friendly enough for banter.
      I can't get from liturgy to love.

      When will my heart be open to love?
      When will my head not need the missal?
      When will my lips feel free to banter?

      I envy those who with God banter.
      I despise those whose souls have met love.
      I refute those not needing missal.

      Missal, bid me banter God through love!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0