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Dizain: Poetic Forms

Learn how to write the dizain, a French poetic form, including guidelines for this 10-liner and an example poem.

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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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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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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