One more sestina for the road, please

One of the things I do in my strange little world of creative crop rotation is to write poems. Unlike music and photography I don’t have any wish to let what I write out to a bigger audience. In fact, most of the appeal of writing poetry, for me, is the challenge of working within certain poetic structures. Currently I’ve been working on the sestina.

A sestina features six, six line stanzas and a three line stanza at the end. The complexity comes from having to use the six words featured at the end of each line in the first stanza again, at the ends of the next five stanzas. This is made more interesting by having the order different every time so that each word ends a different line in each stanza. In the three line verse all six words need to appear again; two in each line.

The pattern goes like this.


And in the three line stanza at the end the first line uses words 6 & 2, the second 1 & 4 and the third 5 & 3.

So, if you used the words Bob, size, sandwich, tree, again and truth as the words that ended you first six lines, they would appear in the next stanza as truth, Bob, again, size, tree and sandwich at the end of the second stanza’s lines.


It helps if you chose you end words carefully, so they have some flexibility.

Writing a sestina that obeys these rules is hard. Writing a sestina that obeys these rules and is any good… well, maybe that’s where the subjective element of poetry comes in. In the years I’ve been working at them I think I’ve written one good sestina. Feel free to try out the form and post it in the comments section.

Now, back to bass playing.


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