Tuesday, January 6, 2015
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.