Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Writing Exercise - English Sestet

By Ashley Lister

Happy New Year.  We’re at the beginning of another year and, as always, I’m hoping to share some writing exercises in the manner of poetic forms.  I thought I’d start this year with something relatively simple: the English Sestet. 

Forerunners of the English Sestet can be found as the final six lines of a typical sonnet.  A giveaway detail to this relationship between the sestet and the sonnet is the distinctive rhyme scheme of a, b, a, b, c, c.  Again, because of its associations with the sonnet, the English Sestet is most commonly written in iambic pentameter (that is, five two-syllable ‘feet’ following a pattern of unstressed/stressed).

Here’s an example:

I have only three rules you should follow,
To give us harmony when we’re alone.
Firstly you can’t spit: you have to swallow.
Second: you must be faithful to my bone.
The third rule is the easiest for you:
Enjoy each kinky thing that we both do.

This one isn’t technically iambic.  It has ten syllables per line (which is close enough to the rhythm for my pronunciation) but the stressed and unstressed patterns aren’t iambic. However this does follow the a, b, a, b, c, c, rhyme scheme. 

The poem below also follows that same pattern:

You wouldn’t let me put it in your ass
You wouldn’t let me put it in your mouth
You say that my suggestions shows no class
You say that my charisma’s heading south
You’re making this small task a giant chore:
So how else could I take your temperature?

And it’s as simple as that. As always, if you care to share your poetry in the comments box below, it would be great to see how others approach this particular form.


  1. New Love

    Her tears were jewels in the setting sun
    her breasts the gnomon of a fading dial
    a husband lost became a lover won
    the coldest sob behoves the warmer smile.
    Custody of children looms, a battle
    still while marriage sings a final rattle.

    1. How often does one get to use the word "gnomon"?

      Lovely, Rachel!

    2. Rachel - love it. The rhythm flows and the narrative is compelling. Not bad for six lines.

    3. Thank you kindly. It was a little depressing, perhaps.

  2. Hi, Ash,

    I don't know if the "gotcha" in your second sestet is really kosher!

    I'll see if I can come up with one of my one.

  3. Suggestible
    By Lisabet Sarai

    You mention taking me across your knee;
    My mind supplies the heat of skin on skin.
    Of whips and wax you speak, so casually;
    You sketch perverted outlines I fill in,
    Elaborate, embroider and refine
    Are these ideas of yours, or are they mine?

    (Not much of a poem - very few concrete, sensual words - but it does scan and rhyme correctly!)

    1. I think this works well. The sensuality of your concrete words is there for those of us who find sensuality in phrases such as knee, mind, skin on skin and whips and wax. It think that covers a fair few of us here at ERWA.

  4. Such different poems, yet both equally effective.


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