Over the next few weeks I’ll be trying my hand at fixed poetry forms such as the Chant Royal, Pantoum, Sonnet and the Villanelle. In this post, I’m going to attempt a Sestina.
What is a Sestina you might ask? Well it’s a fixed form dating back to the 12th century containing six six-line stanzas and a three-line concluding stanza known as a tercet or envoi. The kicker is that the ending words of the first stanza are repeated throughout each of the following stanzas in a set pattern. For the finale, the same six words appear in the concluding three-line stanza, two in each line.
Here is how the pattern looks with a letter representing the placement of one of the six ending words:
Stanza 1: A, B, C, D, E, F
Stanza 2: F, A, E, B, D, C
Stanza 3: C, F, D, A, B, E
Stanza 4: E, C, B, F, A, D
Stanza 5: D, E, A, C, F, B
Stanza 6: B, D, F, E, C, A
Ending: AB CD EF
So to recap:
A Sestina is a poem that contains six six-line stanzas and a three-line ending stanza utilizing the same six ending words in all of the stanzas.
Looks intimidating right?
A couple of my poetry friends who’ve tried this gave me some tips on how to get started. One way is to pick six related words first, making sure you have a verb or two in the mix. Another way is to write the stanzas first then go back and fashion them to fit six words you choose after writing the poem.
But what’s the challenge in that? So I chose the first option…here goes…I call this piece…
The Plague of Fate
To step up and bare the soul
unafraid of enormous hurt
that can crush a normal heart
causing memories to bleed
because our eventual fate
forces time to be cruel.
Sadistic satisfaction is cruel
that one should touch the soul
putting everything in the hands of fate
not worrying about hurt
1,000 daily deaths to bleed
just to once hold another’s heart.
But coldness seizes this heart
for reality is relentlessly cruel
coercing one to empty out and bleed
from the very pit of the soul
seems to be our fate.
Oh, to be strong enough to fight fate
with the strength of a lion’s heart
coiling off hurt
the very thought cruel
as I fight to reach your soul
your name I will bleed.
Love, a dye that will never bleed
untainted or faded by fate
cleansing the soul
and reviving this heart
for kindness trumps an existence that’s cruel
erasing all traces of hurt.
Longing to touch you may hurt
causing worn abrasions to bleed
but compassion crushes time that is cruel
bringing us closer to fate
conjoining pieces of a heart
pacifying a once lost soul.
No more hurt because finally fate
dies as joy commences to bleed from the heart
time ceasing to be cruel, allowing unification into one soul.
© 2010 dasuntoucha
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