Terzanelle: Poetic Form | When the Villanelle and Terza Rima Join Forces - Writer's Digest

Terzanelle: Poetic Form

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What do you get when you mix two super popular Italian poetic forms, specifically the terza rima and villanelle? The terzanelle, of course!

It combines the lyricism of the terza rima with the repetition of the villanelle to make a powerful one-two punch in only 19 lines. The traditional stance on the terzanelle is that the lines should be written in a consistent iambic meter, but there are plenty of contemporary terzanelles that just aspire to keep the lines a consistent length throughout.

Here's the rhyme and refrain order for the Terzanelle:








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Here's my attempt at a Terzanelle:

"Big A"

The hardest thing to do is remember
what I just did and what I want to do.
I can still recall that one December

when both the moon and snow surrounded you
like a whisper. Am I losing my mind?
What I just did and what I want to do

vanish completely as soon as I find
the answer. The question a question mark
like a whisper, "Am I losing my mind?"

I've never felt comforted by the dark,
but I still remember that winter night
the answer, the question, and question mark

unraveled beneath the frozen moon's light
like there was something worthwhile to forget,
but I still remember that winter night

in the park in the dark when we first met.
The hardest thing to do is remember
as if there's something worthwhile to forget.
I can still recall that one December.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.


Ever since college, he's loved learning and fumbling around with new (to him) poetic forms, whether it's the shadorma, paradelle, or triolet. When he's not messing up another sestina or other traditional form, he's bound to be making up forms to fit the poems he writes.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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