One of the most difficult and complex of the various French forms, the sestina is a poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy (ending). It makes no use of the refrain. This form is usually unrhymed, the effect of rhyme being taken over by a fixed pattern of end-words which demands that these end-words in each stanza be the same, though arranged in a different sequence each time.
If we take 1-2-3-5-6 to represent the end-words of the first stanza, then the first line of the second stanza must end with 6 (the last end-word used in the preceding stanza), the second with 1, the third with 5, the fourth with 2, the fifth with 4, the sixth with 3--and so to the next stanza. The order of the first three stanzas, for instance, would be: 1-2-3-4-5-6; 6-1-5-2-4-3; 3-6-4-1-2-5. The conclusion, or envoy, of three lines must use as end-words 5-3-1, these being the final end-words, in the same sequence, of the sixth stanza. But the poet must exercise even greater ingenuity than all this, since buried in each line of the envoy must appear the other three end-words, 2-6.
Thus so highly artificial a pattern affords a form which, for most poets, can never prove anything more than a poetic exercise. Yet it has been practiced with success in English by Swinburne, Kipling, and Auden.
in my creative writing class, my prof.. wanted us to read up on the Sestina.. I read some poems that used this format, and I just couldn't embrace them in any way.. Plus, they're hard as hell to write, and mindful doesn't like being told how to write a piece~ __________________________
8. "RE: seriously del..." In response to Reply # 7
>in my creative writing class, my >prof.. wanted us to read >up on the Sestina.. I >read some poems that used >this format, and I just >couldn't embrace them in any >way.. Plus, they're hard as >hell to write, and mindful >doesn't like being told how >to write a piece~
i can see where you're coming from, and i think that's why people generally stay away from form and prefer freestyle. but you have to keep in mind that when these forms were created, it was long ago in a much more dull world. i think our job as writers is to reinvent the form(s) and bring it(them) back to life. i think that every form is graspable if written in a perspective that a reader can relate to.