This is week 3 in our study of sonnetinas, or “little songs.” Previously we have tried our hands at the Sonnetina Cinque and Sonnetina Quattro. Both of these forms have quite a bit of flexibility within the general framework, and you will find the same to be true for the Sonnetina Tre.
As you might guess from the title, this form is created from three stanzas: 2 quatrains and 1 couplet. It is usually written in iambic tetrameter (8-syllable lines) or pentameter (10-syllable lines). The normal structure concludes with the couplet, making it just one quatrain short of a Shakespearean sonnet. But it is possible to have the couplet in the middle or even at the beginning. Regardless of the order in which the stanzas appear, they are written together, as a 10-line form, with no space in between.
In addition to the placement of the couplet, there is also flexibility in the format of the quatrains. As defined by their rhyme, they can be:
• a series of couplets (aabb)
• alternate line rhyme (abab)
• envelope rhyme (abba)
• partial rhyme (xaxa)
• free verse (no rhyme)
The couplet itself is also flexible. In other words, it may rhyme or not. According to my sources, it can also rhyme with the adjoining quatrain (though to me that contradicts the definition of the stanza). The key is that the couplet contains the theme of the poem. In prose terms, the couplet is like the topic sentence in a paragraph.
If you want to know more about couplets, go to my article on the Sonnetina Cinque.
You may have noticed that the Sonnetina Tre is very similar to the Miniature, another form we have studied. It too is made from two quatrains followed by a rhyming couplet. The difference is that the Miniature has varying line lengths, as specified in the form, whereas all the lines of the Sonnetina Tre are of a uniform length (isosyllabic). The line length is up to you, the writer, but once established, you must use the same meter / syllabic count for every line.
In summary, the Sonnetina Tre is:
- A decastich (10-line poem) written in three stanzas, two quatrains and a couplet, with no spaces between.
- Usually iambic tetrameter (8 syllables per line) or pentameter (10 syllables per line).
- Rhyme scheme options: abab cdcd ee, abba cc deed, xaxa xbxb ab, etc.
Below are two samples for you, each slightly different in their construction and theme.
The first one, “First Day in Braces,” is written in iambic pentameter and has a heroic couplet in between the two quatrains. By way of review, a heroic couplet is a rhyming couplet in iambic pentameter. A closed couplet could stand alone and still make sense. Heroic couplets may be open or closed. This one is closed.
In “The Art of Poetry” the couplet appears at the end. Although it is also a closed rhyming couplet, it is not a heroic couplet because it’s in tetrameter instead of pentameter. If these details mean nothing to you, that’s okay. You can write a good Sonnetina Tre without knowing all the technical terms.
In both poems below I underlined the couplets so you can see them more clearly. Notice how they encapsulate the theme.
First Day in Braces
For years I’ve longed to have a perfect smile;
At last the long-awaited day has come.
I didn’t know they’d be so worrisome—
Will my mouth be this tender all the while?
They say there is no profit without pain;
I only hope it will not be in vain.
My daughter never did so carry on;
She’s laughing now to see her mom complain.
From further loud laments I shall refrain,
Envisioning my smile when these are gone.
Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
The Art of Poetry
Brush of the artist, pen of the scribe—
Tools that she handles with equal finesse.
Able the eye and the ear to impress—
What she has tasted, gives us to imbibe.
Painting a picture using her words—
Paper, the canvas; life is the scene.
And on the easel, color ungirds,
Telling a story with writing unseen.
Poetry springs not from a technique;
The artist makes the art unique.
Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
It’s Your Turn!
Now it’s time for you to write a Sonnetina Tre. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Choose a topic. It can be anything. If you’re struggling for an idea, you might consider the Daily Prompts from The Daily Post
- May I suggest you write on a piece of paper or in a notebook.
- If you are using the syllabic-count method, then down the left column write the numbers representing the syllables required for each line (typically 8 or 10). Regardless of how long you want your lines to be, they should all be the same length.
- If counting feet, write the number of feet you plan to incorporate (4 for tetrameter, 5 for pentameter, etc.).
- Across from the numbers, in the right column, write the letter for your rhyme scheme, whatever you have chosen (i.e. ababccdeed).
- Now, inside this framework, write your poem.
- Try to avoid filler words. Instead, use a thesaurus to find precise words that give you the right syllable count for each line.
- And of course, when you are finished, share your poem with the rest of us.
Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…
- Write your blog post.
- Include the tag Decastich Challenge or 10LPC
- Publish your post on your blog.
- Come back here and click the blue button below to add your link to the others.
To find more samples and to learn from those who taught me, check out these sites. All links open in a separate tab so you can easily find your way back here.
Poet’s Garret ~ My source of information on the Sonnetina Tre.
Poet’s Collective ~ The forms on this website are not organized in alphabetical order, but he does have at least one sample poem for each form, he even has tags for rhyme scheme. He also has a visual template for every form so you can see the rhyme scheme and stress patterns, as applicable. That is extremely helpful.
Sol Magazine ~ This resource covers much more than just 10-line poems.
“Metric Forms from Pathways for the Poet” ~ This is an outline of information from Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg (1977), a book for and by educators. This resource also includes more than just 10-line poems, but it helped to fill in the gaps where my other sources were a bit scanty with their information.
Shadow Poetry ~ This is my favorite resource for learning about poetic forms (and not just the decastich), but I have discovered that there is ever so much more to learn than what I can find here. This is, however, a very good place to start.