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Italian Octave: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Italian octave, also known as the first eight lines of Petrarchan sonnet.

While it's not as popular, the Italian octave has similar origins to haiku. Haiku were originally smaller opening pieces of the much longer renga; likewise, the Italian octave was the original eight lines of the 14-line Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnet and were followed by a six-line sestet.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Eight-line poem or stanza
  • Iambic pentameter (or 10 syllables per line)
  • Rhyme scheme: abbaabba

There are no restrictions on subject matter for this form.

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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 an Italian Octave:

Beta, by Robert Lee Brewer

The rain fell hard on the Georgian plateau,
though we found nobody who seemed to mind
after the summer had been so unkind
evaporating the lake to new lows
and disappearing as far as that goes
to leave the lake businesses in a bind
with customers--like quarters--hard to find
unlike that hot summer wind that still blows.

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