Poetic Forms: Rispetto

Okay, here’s a new form. Actually, scratch that. This is a very old form (from Italy, no less). Still, new to me anyway. I found more than a few definitions, but here are the two most common variations:

Rispetto #1: Poem comprised of two quatrains written in iambic (unstress, stress) tetrameter (four feet–or, in this case, 8 syllables).

Rispetto #2: Poem (or song) comprised of 8 hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) lines–usually one stanza.

Both versions appear to follow this rhyme scheme: ababccdd (though I also found a mention of an abababcc pattern). Plus, I found more than a few sources which claim rispettos were originally written to pay “respect” to a woman.

However, over the centuries, this poem has offered itself up for other subjects and variations. So feel free to experiment.

Here’s my attempt at the rispetto (the second version):

“Forget sleeping”

When fires spark in the dark, I know you’re near
enough to hear my kisses blaze against stark
atmospheres forming and reforming like clear
antidotes to tired notes left lounging in parks
on swings twisted by teenage angst-rage affairs–
all those stares, those wild stares–and I don’t care
to let you know how much I care about life,
but it would mean less without you as my wife.


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Learn more about poetic forms…

…with The Poetry Dictionary, by John Drury, which was actually one of my sources for the rispetto. It’s crammed to the brim with poetic definitions, terms, thoughts, poems, and more.

Click here to learn more.


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27 thoughts on “Poetic Forms: Rispetto

  1. icandootoo

    Kill Screen
    a Gamer’s Rispetto

    I wish she’d seen how blue it glowed
    The screen, alight within this space
    this darkened room, this small abode
    within these walls, upon this face.

    To conquer, capture, vanguish, raze
    to kill the screen and earn Their praise.
    I wish right now she’d felt the same.
    I lost at love…still, won the game!

  2. Walt Wojtanik


    Could it be you did not see me;
    out of sight and out of your mind?
    It wasn’t easy to be me,
    let alone be drawn to your kind.

    But years later, you’ve found my words
    and think not one of them absurd,
    they soothe your mind and warm your heart.
    I guess that was the place to start.

  3. Joseph Harker

    I think this is the most honest thing I’ve ever done for a girl.


    I write her a three-page letter, to come out,
    skulk off like a coward once it’s delivered.
    She knows now what my shyness has been about,
    knows why my lips and my tongue always quivered.
    We have no stomach for venom or grudges,
    nor the friends playing my jury, my judges.
    She trades me sympathy for the truth I give:
    our love-dreams are chaste, our lives are free to live.

  4. Jane Shlensky

    Smart Adjustments

    My mother chaffed at harnessing
    her brain to make the dull feel sharp,
    but kindness led to varnishing
    mean comments, like plucking a harp
    when one has no skill for its notes.
    With love and patience, antidotes
    for bridling at stupidity,
    she learned to laugh at Dad and me.

  5. Jane Shlensky

    Grandpa’s Daydreams

    A pretty woman is sweet to think about
    When time seems long or chill, and sunlight is grayed,
    When days hang loose as pockets where men don’t doubt
    Their prowess with Beauties past had they but played
    The lover when they had the chance. Now daydreams
    Feature doting eyes above, sweet loving beams,
    And shapely breasts, legs, and moving parts below.
    An old man’s dreams can enhance a woman’s glow.

  6. Jane Shlensky

    Wow, Walt, you’re on fire, man. So many good ones here already. Robert, I tried all three configurations, but the eleven syllables really rattled me rhythmically.

    She Walks in Water

    She gets her kit to clean the mess
    created by his plumbing skills.
    To ignorance, he won’t confess
    nor part with any dollar bills

    until his very stubbornness
    is washed away or he grows gills.
    She turns the water off and calls
    A plumber for their water falls.

  7. Walt Wojtanik


    It can be said absence of heart
    can breed a fondness most sublime.
    All longing festered from the start,
    is magnified in space and time.

    Can love endure the test of will?
    Does absent love bless lovers still?
    Fate says time and distance will pass.
    But hearts growing fonder? My ass!

  8. Sara McNulty

    You Are Never Far – Rispetto 2

    When I could not listen to another word
    from him, that thin-lipped, patrician-faced liar
    I worked for, whose cutting remarks could be heard
    down the hall, I sought solace in my dire
    need from you, who could always calm me down,
    and make me smile. In my dreams, your body’s found.

  9. Sara McNulty

    Ah, Love

    With love’s beginning passion rules
    in skipping hearts and trembling hands,
    your eyes like swords lock in a duel
    of flaming orbs from distant lands.

    But time wears thin the silken cloth
    as air soon flattens foam and froth.
    If love survives when lust does fade
    then you are blessed with accolade.

  10. Candice

    Rispetto, Anyone ?

    I thought I would appear quite sage
    to try to follow Robert’s prompt,
    and so rispettos on my page
    cavort and leap and slink and stomp,

    and feigning brilliance stare at me.
    I must admit a bit of glee,
    in churning out this newfound form.
    If not, I would’ve been forlorn !

  11. Connie Peters


    Blue skies, warm sun, the brilliant leaves of autumn,
    I often wish they would always be the norm.
    Then rain taps out a rhythm, thunder a drum.
    There is something exciting about a storm.

    No deadlines, no problems, no stress, no delays,
    I crave tranquility to fill all my days.
    But goals, dreams and adventure cause me to thrive.
    Noise, problems and pressure prove I am alive.

  12. foodpoet

    Forgetting in Stages

    You forget always in every widening gaps.
    I watch you forget me day after day and
    hold you talk to you day after day, perhaps
    today you will know me for a single grand
    second. But for now I can only watch you
    decline gap by gap, I stand my life askew.
    My life on hold as I fill in the gaps, knitted
    memories two lives on hold, blanked unfitted.

  13. Walt Wojtanik


    It seems that sleep is elusive,
    a sometimes thing that fights my will.
    It’s disruptive and effusive;
    but wide awake, the room is still.

    I listen to the lack of sound,
    a gentle respite all around.
    The silence of the night soothes deep,
    I do not hear it when I sleep.

  14. taylor graham


    A street corner somewhere. Someone plays a horn
    against war. The man at the guitar strums stars
    in a sky of peace. The poet’s words are torn
    from the Book of Brothers. People pass, and cars,
    as a big bassoon begins to dig at wrong;
    he blows his message down corridors of song.
    It’s just the four of them on a hurried street.
    Cars slow, passers stop to listen. People meet.

  15. MsMelanian

    Dear Robert, Hats off to your wife!
    I know this is not the topic but I just read your Creative Challenge: Besting the Big 10. I didn’t think I could it but was surprised that I did it almost in 10 minutes! So I have to share it with you!

    I Tried to Say It – 10 Lines 10 syllables

    I tried to say it but it wouldn’t come
    I tried to do it but it would not be
    So I had to write it down on paper
    and make sure every thought was rightly said
    because it mattered to everybody
    though it did not matter to me as much
    but I am a writer, that’s what I do
    everything else is just to fool others
    and maybe to feed the body and mind
    with a little stash of cash to pay bills.

  16. taylor graham


    A walk foreshortened by the Thames
    that once would flow through field and moor –
    now stitched and patched with dirty hems,
    a city’s out-skirts of the poor.

    You used to walk here, years ago
    when May put on her blossom-show.
    But Progress is a subtle sweep
    that changes worlds while we’re asleep.

  17. Walt Wojtanik

    BELLA MIA (Second Version)

    I see you in the morning mist, a vision;
    my tired eyes welcome it. And your gown flows
    in a gentle cascade, my only mission
    is to take you up into my arms and show
    you all that my love can teach you; a lesson
    your mind will learn, but your heart already knows.
    In close silhouette, your beauty is revealed.
    My longing for you cannot be concealed.

  18. laurie kolp

    Imprisoned by the Past

    Carafed in mediocrity,
    his life confined within stark walls;
    an animal by nature free
    to roam the woods, not sterile halls

    mundane the visions overplay
    a slide show in his mind relay
    uncertainty, the future’s sold–
    imprisoned by regret’s choke hold.

  19. RJ Clarken

    A Rispetto for the Cabbage Palmetto

    It’s native to southeastern United States
    and some countries closer to the equator.
    It’s really tall, kinda wide…that’s just two traits.
    It’s the source for ‘hearts of palm.’ (Ask your waiter.)
    Brushes are made from the bristles on the sheath
    and forts have been built from its trunks (underneath.)
    This is a small sampling from my libretto
    which is an ode to the Cabbage Palmetto.

    If you’ve ever visited down Florida’s
    way, you have no doubt seen this Palmetto. Palm
    is everywhere on the streets and corridors
    (but I’m still not sure if this tree’s found on Guam.)
    Temp and moisture adaptability’s known
    but it thrives best lightly watered, it’s been shown.
    It’s a nice tree sans drama or concetto*
    and that’s my ode to the Cabbage Palmetto.


    *Affected wit or conceit, according to the 1913 Websters’s Dictionary.

  20. Walt Wojtanik


    You were the one my heart had known,
    now this emptiness is painful.
    And all compassion I had shown
    had made this task more disdainful.

    These days do pass in bitter dreams,
    my soul is tearing at the seams,
    And you still live here in my heart
    forever pierced by Cupid’s dart.


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