A poetic form that closely resembles the sonnet is the terza rima. Italian poet Dante is said to have originated this form and he used it in his epic work, The Divine Comedy.
The terza rima form was later used by Chaucer and eventually, English romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley found the form workable for their poetry. Probably one of the most familiar English poems to employ the form is Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind. This ode offers five stanzas of fourteen lines each, with each stanza comprised of four tercets (3 lines grouped together) and a concluding couplet.
Since the foundation for terza rima is its fourteen-line format, it may be easily mistaken for a sonnet. However, the rhyme scheme (a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-e) distinguishes it from the sonnet. (For a sonnet celebrating the sonnet form, see my post here.)
As a much younger poet, I decided to play with this form after studying Shelley’s ode. The interlocking rhyme pattern intrigued me. I have also read that Dante used the three-line design in subtle homage of the Father/Son/Holy Spirit trinitarian union.
Today’s featured poem is an early experiment (for me) with the terza rima form. Like several of my poems from that era, this one is an example of how I internalized my feelings while watching my friends suffer through gut-wrenching divorces. I’ve explained this inclination before in several posts. Here’s one post in which I expressed this angst. Likewise, the terza rima below explores what I imagined my emotions might be if I were in such a situation.
Though terza rima offers an interesting poetic form built around the tercet (or triplet), three is problematic for marriage. I recall Princess Diana (in a Martin Bashir interview) when she said: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Indeed.
I think it’s safe to say (based on the above poem) that my poetry is a blessing, allowing me to purge – with my pen – whatever murderous instincts might surface (from time to time), posing possible permanent solutions to vexing human problems! … Only in poetry.
2 thoughts on “Three’s a Crowd”
That was quite fun! I think terza rima may now be one of my favorite forms. Dante and Chaucer are also my favorites. Perhaps it’s the melodrama and the humor that I find appealing 🙂
Thanks! Doing the post, I realized how much I enjoyed the form … and plan on writing more. I too love both Dante & Chaucer.