Skip to main content
Publish date:

Ovillejo: Poetic Form

The story behind me selecting today's poetic form is maybe as complicated as the form itself, which is pretty complicated. Poetic Asides regular De Jackson credited me with sharing this form on the blog when she wrote a post on the ovillejo over at dVerse Poets Pub, though I'm not certain if I did or not.

Unfortunately, whole swaths of previous posts were permanently deleted from the site during one of our server moves a few years back. So maybe I shared the form, but it's also possible the form was shared in the comments of another post--or even in a thread on Facebook. Regardless, here we are now: getting ready for the ovillejo.

Ovillejo Poems

The ovillejo is an old Spanish form popularized by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). This 10-line poem is comprised of 3 rhyming couplets (or 2-line stanzas) and a quatrain (or 4-line stanza).

The first line of each couplet is 8 syllables long and presents a question to which the second line responds in 3 to 4 syllables--either as an answer or an echo.

The quatrain is also referred to as a redondilla (which is usually a quatrain written in trochaic tetrameter) with an abba rhyme pattern. The final line of the quatrain also combines lines 2, 4, and 6 together.

As such, here's how the whole poem comes together (line-by-line):

Line 1: a rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 2: a rhyme in 3-4 syllables

Line 3: b rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 4: b rhyme in 3-4 syllables

Line 5: c rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 6: c rhyme in 3-4 syllables

Line 7: c rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 8: d rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 9: d rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 10: (Line 2) (Line 4) (Line 6)

*****

Re-create Your Poetry!

Recreating_Poetry_Revise_Poems

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.

*****

Confused? Here's my attempt at an Ovillejo poem:

Into the World, by Robert Lee Brewer

Where do you place a captured fish?
On a dish.

How do you expect to be heard?
With a word.

Into what are all people hurled?
The world.

And if the meaning seems unfurled
like odd pieces to a puzzle,
don't delay haiku or ghazal
on a dish with a word--the world!

*****

A couple more notes on the Ovillejo:

  1. I don't believe lines 1, 3, and 5 have to be formatted as questions. It's just how I did it for my example.
  2. As with many modernized forms, I've also seen a range of syllables used. (As if poets prefer to bend the rules, right?

*****

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.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

Save

Save

Agent Advice

Agent Advice: Analieze Cervantes of The Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

Agent Advice (this installment featuring Analieze Cervantes of The Harvey Klinger Literary Agency) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 4 WDU Courses, an Upcoming Webinar, Submission Deadline for Your Favorite Writing Websites, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 4 WDU courses, an upcoming webinar on creating an author website, and more!

How To Find the Right Professional Editor for Your Writing

How To Find the Right Professional Editor for Your Writing

It's not enough to know when your manuscript is ready for a professional edit—it's knowing who is the right fit to do the editing. Here, Tiffany Yates Martin discusses how to find the right professional editor for your writing.

From Script

Understanding the Writer and Agent Relationship (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read an intimate interview with Verve Literary Agent and Partner David Boxerbaum about the state of the spec market, the relationship between a writer and agent, and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ending Your Story Too Soon

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Ending Your Story Too Soon

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is ending your story too soon.

FightWrite™: Fight Scenes with Magic

FightWrite™: Fight Scenes With Magic

In this post, trained fighter and author Carla Hoch explores the process of writing fight scenes with magic—how to make the unbelievable believable, how limitations bring us closer to our characters, and more.

Invoice Template for Freelance Writers

Invoice Template for Freelance Writers

If you're a freelance writer who is able to secure assignments, an essential tool you'll need is an invoice. In this post, Writer's Digest Senior Editor Robert Lee Brewer shares a very basic and easy invoice template for freelance writers to get the job done (and get paid).

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

3 Things Being a Broadway Wig Master Taught Me About Storytelling

A career behind the curtain helped Amy Neswald in creating her own stories. Here, the author shares 3 things being a broadway wig master taught her about storytelling.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Out of Control

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let things get a little out of control.