Exercise #11 (page 190)

This exercise was to use stanza forms to describe themselves.

Terza Rima
The terza rima form is a surprise
Because you think the second line will rhyme
But no, it won’t – you must believe your eyes.

The next line will be just about the time
Your brain decides it knows what’s going on
But it will think the next two lines a crime.

Because the rhyming scheme will be all gone:
Stop-couplet will complete the final con.

The Quatrain
An age ago, some ancient poet thought
His thoughts too broad to fit a two-fold frame.
His friends all scoffed and said the poet ought
To simply squeeze his thoughts and make them tame.

Refusing this, he thought of what to do:
He found that if he made his rhymes to cross
Then he could use four lines instead of two
And write all of his thoughts without a loss.

The Rubai
Persian poetry has got a twist
Once you start to read, you can’t desist.
Four lines – three rhymes give you a surprise
It’s like drinking milk that gets you pissed.

Probably you want to know its name:
Rubai – gave to Omar Khayyam fame
Though people tend to skip the Ruba’iyat
Almost all of them do know the name.

Rhyme Royal
Rhyme Royal isn’t quite the royal rhyme
You’d think it is, considering the name.
It seems a silly legend, over time,
From Geoffrey Chaucer stole a little fame,
Since Henry number four is not to blame
For this: a scheme of a b a bb
That’s ended with a couplet of cc.

Ottava Rima
Would anyone who’s in their right mind choose
The older form – Rhyme Royal – at the cost
Of missing out the full three couplets’ use
Ottava Rima gives, which Royal’s lost?
Perhaps some think one line’s not much to lose
But it’s not just a line – a couplet’s tossed.
The competition fades out near the end,
Since both forms say the last two lines must blend.

Spenserian Stanza
Of course, the guy who wrote The Fairy Queen,
Has many other points on which to boast
But one (though minor, true) that’s to be seen:
Of all poems, it is his that scares me most.
And now, it seems, I’ll also blame his ghost
For this, a complex form which he devised
Which was, no doubt, in his time quite the toast.
Like Russian dolls, its inset form disguised.
Then sudden, hexametrically, it ends.  Surprised?


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