Strambotto: Poetic Forms

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Time for another Poetic Form Friday. After last week's echo verse, let's try out strambotto.

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Strambotto Poems

Some of these forms are older than others, and the strambotto traces back to the 13th century. This Italian form known as ottava siciliana (Sicilian octave) or strambotto popolare was the preferred form in Southern Italy, while strambotto toscano was more popular in Tuscany [hat tip to Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary]. Today strambotto toscano is known as ottava rima.

Here are the basic rules for strambotto:

  • Octave (8-line) poems or stanzas
  • Hendecasyllabic (or 11-syllable) lines
  • Rhyme scheme: abababab

Alternate version: There's also a six-line variant form (still called strambotto) with hendecasyllabic lines and an ababab rhyme scheme.


Master Poetic Forms!

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Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

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Here’s my attempt at Strambotto:

All's Fair, by Robert Lee Brewer

When you run out of reasons to dance or sing,
remember tomorrow is a brand new day
and that past regrets should not mean anything
if you wish to keep living in joyful ways.
For the past is the past, and the future brings
new chances to love and to even betray
a smile or a kiss as the wedding bells ring
and all of the children continue to play.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He is thankful that life goes on. Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.