Dizain: Poetic Form

As you may have noticed, I’m making an attempt to start covering even more poetic forms than I’ve done up to this point on the blog. Instead of a new form every month or two, we’re going to start checking out a new form every week or two.

Dizain Poems

The dizain gets us back in the French form domain, which as regular readers know is a favorite of mine. This particular form was a favorite of 15th and 16th century French poets, but it has also been employed in English by the likes of Philip Sidney and John Keats.

Here are the basic rules of the dizain:

  • One 10-line stanza
  • 10 syllables per line
  • Employs the following rhyme scheme: ababbccdcd

Note: You might have noticed that the rhyme pattern in the second half of the poem sort of mirrors the pattern in the first half. While working on my own dizains, I found this to make the poem both fun and challenging to write (and read back to myself).

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Here’s my attempt at a Dizain Poem:

Bonfire, by Robert Lee Brewer

We talked briskly by the light of the fire
with our hands flying about like embers
using Shakespeare to disguise our desire
burning through the soft chill of December.
If there were others, I don’t remember–
lost in the flames flickering off your eyes,
my only passion was to memorize
every word and each quirky turn of phrase
leading me through a labyrinth of sighs–
to recall racing through a love-cast maze.

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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14 thoughts on “Dizain: Poetic Form

  1. Walter J Wojtanik

    THE LOVE OF LIFE

    Such a precious gift is this life we live!
    Yet we allow ourselves to squander it.
    With so much to offer, so much to give,
    we live as if we’re afraid to commit,
    and see ourselves as total misfits.
    But what is not to love about this life?
    Release your heart; do not submit to strife.
    Caress your joy while it’s yours to embrace.
    Fill each day with wonder, for it is rife
    with it. And love your life in any case!

    Walter J. Wojtanik

  2. riversidepoet

    Too Soon (dizain)

    The fall comes fast as time flies by too soon
    Oh my, summer it seems you were just here
    How come the days rush by I ask the moon
    He shakes his head looks down and sheds a tear
    The stars shine bright high in the sky so clear
    Do they not know that life it dreads the snow
    That eye have dimmed and yes my feet have slowed
    May fall be kind and sing out loud, sweet song
    May I be surrounded by ones I know
    And when Jesus calls I can go along

    Kent Phalen

  3. taylor graham

    STORM BIRDS

    Clouds speak their own dark language, squalling down
    to Blackbird peck-pecking at scraps from street
    to gutter. First-rain splatters on the town,
    sets tin-roof crows to flying. Drops repeat
    on ripple-sidewalk, multiplying feet
    running for shelter. Images transform
    with every shudder of ionic storm,
    and then lightning leaves split-second brilliant trace
    that shivers into clearing. Sun-rays swarm,
    Blackbird so briefly rainbow-touched with grace.

  4. taylor graham

    THE BIRD IN THE FRAME

    Flo’s house is full of birds, each in a cage:
    framed and matted, photos of swans that sail
    above a china cat whose pupils gauge
    their flight. A peace dove preening, angel-pale.
    And here’s a storm-shot, raven in a gale.
    Marshland with great blue heron lifting free
    as spirit, feathered bone. Atop a tree,
    a sharp-shin hawk and in its beak a mouse.
    Is Flo a wren or raptor wish-to-be?
    Her walls are full of wings, her heavy house.

  5. Anthony94

    Aftermath

    It happens above the Beaver Creek Road
    six herring gulls lifting from the still lake
    almost hidden in the reeds, the rolled load
    of hay destined for some town to soon make

    feed for cattle where constant drought yet takes
    the very water from stems of Big Blue,
    smooth hills gone sere, the once deep ponds cracked, too
    while in the south the deluge floods and wastes.

    Meteorologists say nothing’s new;
    gulls vanish from the sky, scallops their wake.

  6. taylor graham

    BLUE IS THE NEW GOLD

    This river has always carried gold – flakes
    and nuggets of bedrock, by storm set free
    from a land of snow and thunder, cold lakes
    so blue you’d think they’re sky, or long to be.
    And yet they pour their bounty down. Just see
    this river miners dredged and panned, and left
    for worthless when they found no gold – bereft,
    they said. But river is the farmer’s thrift
    and treasure, the traveler’s thirst. From this cleft
    it springs. Water, this great earth’s sweetest gift.

  7. taylor graham

    CAT-FRENCH

    I named her Kitty Souris (my cat Mouse
    in French) to rid the basement’s every nook
    of vermin, and afterwards clean the house.
    So keen her eye; each claw a clever hook.
    I’d tiptoe down at dawn – voilà! just look!
    under the bathmat lay a tiny form
    tucked gently to eternal sleep; still warm.
    She never shared a word with me; cat-tongue
    too busy grooming her own French. A swarm
    of purring syllables; her mouse-dirge sung.

  8. PressOn

    Robert, I thought the name, dizain, looked familiar but wasn’t sure where I’d seen it. I learned about it a couple of years ago, probably on Walt and Marie’s Poetic Bloomings site, and then as a “dialogue” dizain. In any case, here’s what I came up with:

    A CONVERSATION BETWEEN POETS

    “You ought to write in forms, you know.”

    “Free verse is form enough for me.”

    “Oh, that! A package less the bow!”

    “If that is so, how can it be
    that formlessness yields poetry?”

    “A passing fad! A silly thing,
    for meter bids the lines to sing.”

    “But freedom brings new creations
    unbound by rule and measured sling.”

    With that, they took up their stations.

  9. taylor graham

    BLESSING OF HONEY

    To the bulk-food section I come for sweets –
    clover honey. Here are bees in a box;
    the warning reads: Don’t Open! Where bee meets
    free air, sweet goes wild, I guess. Under locks,
    they’re fine. Here, honey oozes while the clocks
    tick down. Honey for my homemade bread. Bees
    humming oregano blooms; summer breeze
    of gardens. Honey sweet as Pindar’s verse
    of ancient days with hives alive as trees,
    as rosemary, thyme and sage, shepherds purse.

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