Terza rima

I ran across Robert Peake‘s “The Silence Teacher” tonight, and was struck by how he made the terza rima work so well (as well as, of course, the rather heartbreaking subject matter). I’ve always felt terza rima sort of propels the reader forward by keeping the rhyme scheme going so you’re always in the middle of it (villanelles, too, though they feel more appropriate for subjects which spiral around a central idea, or move forward in iterations).

And while writing this post, I remembered quite a funny poem written in terza rima which I read some time ago, and, happily, Ploughshares will let you search their archives by keyword, so I could find it to share:

Let’s say God got in over his head,
Which really shouldn’t be much of a surprise

Since he couldn’t even be sure a thing was good,
Until he’d gone ahead with its creation.
You’ll remember He called us very good,

Which suggests His judgment is a bit in question

Terza Rima for a Sudden Change in Seasons by Jacqueline Osherow

5 thoughts on “Terza rima

  1. Thanks for the mention, Joanne. I revised the poem through many different forms. Originally, it was in single-stanza free verse, which does propel along, with the intent of an impactful ending–but it does so line-by-line, each line building on the last. With terza rima, I discovered that the form seemed to better support the intertwined nature of the thoughts, feelings, and events of the poem through its intertwined rhyme scheme. Of course, all of this was a discovery, not some deliberate or intentional approach. It was through writing and re-writing that form and content finally fused. I’m glad it meant something to you.

  2. Robert, I liked what you said in your entry about it, too, about the rhyme scheme. Thanks for coming by to say hello, and for writing such a fine poem. I’m so sorry that you lost your son.

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