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Triolet: Poetic Forms

Learn how to write the triolet, a French eight-liner with a healthy helping of rhymes and refrains. Get the guidelines for writing your own here.

Today, we're going to look at the triolet (TREE-o-LAY), which has 13th century French roots linked to the rondeau or "round" poem. For over a year now, I've been trying to find a way to use the repetitive line heard so often in airport terminals: "The moving sidewalk is about to end."

(5 ways to revise poems.)

The triolet is perfect for this kind of repetition, because the first line of the poem is used 3 times and the second line is used twice. If you do the math on this 8-line poem, you'll realize there are only 3 other lines to write: 2 of those lines rhyme with the first line, the other rhymes with the second line.

Here's a diagram of the triolet:

A (first line)
B (second line)
a (rhymes with first line)
A (repeat first line)
a (rhymes with first line)
b (rhymes with second line)
A (repeat first line)
B (repeat second line)

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The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

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So for the construction of my triolet, I already had my first line: "The moving sidewalk is about to end." So after some quick thinking I decided to make my second line: and I'm not sure where to go. Pretty good (and true), since I usually don't know where to go in airports. At this point, my poem looked like this:

A "The moving sidewalk is about to end"
B and I'm not sure where to go
a
A "The moving sidewalk is about to end"
a
b
A "The moving sidewalk is about to end"
B and I'm not sure where to go

With more than half the poem already down, it was a simple matter of brainstorming some rhymes and crafting some lines that fit the airport situation. Then, of course, I had to think of a title. 

Here is my attempt a triolet:

"Terminal Triolet," by Robert Lee Brewer

"The moving sidewalk is about to end,"
and I'm not sure where to go
to meet my long distance girlfriend.
"The moving sidewalk is about to end,"
repeats the disembodied voice again
as the conveyor conveys me slow.
"The moving sidewalk is about to end,"
and I'm not sure where to go.

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For some more on the triolet, check out the following links:

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