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Poetry Magnum Opus

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Italian Verse

The Heroic Sestet is so named for its concluding heroic couplet and iambic pentameter lines. It is assumed to be Sicilian in origin and dates back to the Middle Ages. The word sestet technically refers to the last 6 lines that follow the octave of a sonnet and the Heroic Sestet can be found in the Heroic Sonnet and the Wordsworth Sonnet. However the Heroic Sestet, also called the Venus and Adonis Stanza, can also be found in much longer poems and in this case the word sestet becomes synonymous with the sixain, a 6 line stanza written with other six line stanzas.

The elements of the Heroic Sestet are:

  1. metered, iambic pentameter.
  2. stanzaic, written in any number of 6 line stanzas made up of a Sicilian quatrain followed by a Heroic Couplet.
  3. rhymed ababcc.

    An excerpt from 19th century Scott poet, James Thompson's epic poem, The City of Dreadful Night Part II

    Because he seemed to walk with an intent
    --- I followed him; who, shadowlike and frail,
    Unswervingly though slowly onward went,
    --- Regardless, wrapped in thought as in a veil:
    Thus step for step with lonely sounding feet
    We traveled many a long dim silent street.

  • The Short Heroic Sestet is basically a Heroic Sestet in iambic tetrameter.
    The elements of the Short Heroic Sestet are:
    1. metered, iambic tetrameter.
    2. stanzaic, written in any number of six line stanzas.
    3. rhymed ababcc dedeff etc, or sometimes abbacc deedff etc.
      Daffodils by William Wadsworth Longfellow (1770-1850)

      I wandered lonely as a cloud
      That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
      When all at once I saw a crowd,
      A host, of golden daffodils;
      Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
      Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

      Continuous as the stars that shine
      And twinkle on the milky way,
      They stretched in never-ending line
      Along the margin of a bay:
      Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
      Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

      The waves beside them danced, but they
      Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
      A poet could not be but gay,
      In such a jocund company!
      I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
      What wealth the show to me had brought:

      For oft, when on my couch I lie
      In vacant or in pensive mood,
      They flash upon that inward eye
      Which is the bliss of solitude;
      And then my heart with pleasure fills,
      And dances with the daffodils.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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