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Ottava Rima: Poetic Forms

Learn how to write the ottava rima, a poetic form used by Lord Byron and Don Juan, including guidelines for the form and an example poem.

For the first poetic form of 2017, let's take a look at ottava rima.

Ottava Rima Poems

With an Italian origin, the earliest known ottava rima were written by Giovanni Boccaccio. In English, Lord Byron used the form to write Don Juan. More contemporary English poets to use the form include William Butler Yeats and Kenneth Koch.

Ottava rima are 8 lines with an abababcc rhyme scheme, most commonly written in iambic pentameter (or 10-syllable lines). The form can work as a stand alone poem, or be used as connecting stanzas.

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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 comic books inspired attempt at an Ottava Rima:

Baton Passing, by Robert Lee Brewer

Once upon a time, or so it is said,
there was a comic hero named The Flash,
and on every cover he appeared dead
or on the cusp of dying as a rash
of crimes broke loose with no one in his stead
until they finally unveiled Kid Flash
who appealed to younger generations
with his bright colors and observations.

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