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Terza Rima Sonnet: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the terza rima sonnet, a 14-line Italian form.

If the terza rima sonnet sounds familiar to Poetic Form Friday regulars, there's a reason for that. We've previously covered the terza rima and also the terzanelle. While these Italian forms are related to the terza rima sonnet, it's definitely its own Italian form.

Here are the guidelines for the terza rima sonnet:

  • 14-line poem comprised of four tercets (or three-line stanzas) followed by a couplet (or two-line stanza)
  • Rhyme scheme (capitals are refrains): aba/bcb/cdc/ded/ee
  • Iambic pentameter (or 10-syllable lines for those who aren't comfortable with meter)

Note: Lewis Turco's authoritative The New Book of Forms refers to the terza rima sonnet as a quatorzain (or a 14-line poem that is not a sonnet). However, it's a little too weird for me to say that "terza rima sonnet" is not actually a "sonnet." So I'll just share that aside and let the philosophers and traditionalists duke that one out. Either way, this is a fun poem to pen.

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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 terza rima sonnet:

"down memory lane," by Robert Lee Brewer

beyond the pond and all the evening sounds
there's a spot that's made for a summer swoon
beneath the moon in june that we once found

while we both wandered through that afternoon
of saying one thing and then another
while we both wondered if it were too soon

to say the things said only by lovers
falling so fast we felt that we might fly
where balloons and helicopters hover

because down became up and low fell high
our empty thoughts were so saturated
with the big ideas that make all dreamers cry

out in the night that all love is fated
for better or worse i'm still elated

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