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Poetic Form: Paradelle

Learn how to write the paradelle, a 24-line faux French form founded by poet Billy Collins. Though it started as a joke, the form has attracted many attempts from poets over the years. Find an example poem and the guidelines for this poetic form here.

Well, well. Who's tried writing a paradelle? It's a poetic form that Billy Collins originally introduced as "one of the more demanding French forms," though eventually Collins fessed up that he created it as a joke.

Collins was not kidding about the demanding rules of the paradelle. Here they are:

  • The paradelle is a 4-stanza poem.
  • Each stanza consists of 6 lines.
  • For the first 3 stanzas, the 1st and 2nd lines should be the same; the 3rd and 4th lines should also be the same; and the 5th and 6th lines should be composed of all the words from the 1st and 3rd lines and only the words from the 1st and 3rd lines.
  • The final stanza should be composed of all the words in the 5th and 6th lines of the first three stanzas and only the words from the 5th and 6th lines of the first three 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 attempt at a paradelle:

"Paradelle with the stars"

Meet me on the darkest sea of dead stars.
Meet me on the darkest sea of dead stars.
When the waves burn my skin, I'll remember.
When the waves burn my skin, I'll remember.
I'll remember the burn on the darkest
sea of dead waves. When my skin, meet me stars.

Fall into this faulty trap of myself.
Fall into this faulty trap of myself.
Explain me without understanding why.
Explain me without understanding why.
Explain this faulty trap of myself. Fall
into understanding why without me.

Buries your sadness in my abstraction.
Buries your sadness in my abstraction.
Because time worries us eternally.
Because time worries us eternally.
Eternally in my abstraction, your
sadness buries us, because time worries.

On the darkest sea of dead abstraction,
explain your understanding. Without me,
when the waves burn my skin, I'll remember
this faulty trap of myself, because my
sadness buries us. In time, worries meet
me. Stars fall into why eternally.

*****

To read Billy Collins' original paradelle, click here.

Click here to check out the Wikipedia entry on the paradelle.

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