Welcome to week 4 in our study of sonnetinas, or “little songs.” We are counting down from the Sonnetina Cinque, Sonnetina Quattro, and Sonnetina Tre. All of these forms have quite a bit of flexibility within the general framework, and you will find that the Sonnetina Due is no different in that regard.The Sonnetina Due is a bit mysterious to me, for I’ve found some conflicting information regarding this form. All sources agree that the Sonnetina Due is formed from five couplets, but the conflict comes with the rhyme scheme. Some say it has a rhyme scheme of aabbccddee, while other sources say that rhyming is optional, and that any couplet form may be used. For the sake of my tutorial, I am going to side with those who allow any form of couplet, and that your choices for rhyme are either the rhyme scheme above or no rhyme at all. After all, as I worked with the following the couplets, such was the pattern that developed.
Since the couplet is the foundation for the Sonnetina Due, let’s look at some couplets. The couplet may be classified by its type and by its form. You will also see the words iambic and trochaic used below. If you don’t remember what they are, you may refer back to my earlier article, The Nuts and Bolts of Poetry.
- Closed couplet — a poetic unit of 2 lines that expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a poem in its own right. Meter and rhyme are at the poet’s discretion.
- Open couplet — a couplet that cannot stand alone or does not express a complete thought. The endings are enjambed (i.e. commas or no punctuation at all), allowing the thought to continue to the next line.
- Short couplet — two rhyming lines written in iambic or trochaic tetrameter (8 syllables)
- Heroic couplet — a rhyming couplet written in iambic pentameter (10 syllables). It may be either open or closed.
- Shakespearean couplet — a closed heroic couplet that summarizes the theme of the entire poem.
- Alexandrine couplet — two rhymed lines of iambic hexameter (12 syllables)
- Split couplet — rhymed 2-line form with the first line in iambic pentameter (10 syllables) and the second line in iambic dimeter (4 syllables).
- Alpha couplet — The first line is formed from four words that all begin with the same letter. The second line rhymes with the first and has the same meter. The final word of all lines must be a noun.
- Chinese [antithetical] couplet — When written in Chinese, both lines must have the same number of characters, with one character per word; the tone pattern of one line must be the inverse of the other. The meanings of the two lines must be related, as must the corresponding characters. In English, each line must have the same number of words, and each word in line 1 should correspond in meaning and grammar to the words in line 2, with line 2 creating a counterpoint to line 1. Rhyme is optional.
- Rhophalic couplet — a poem in which the nth word of each line has n syllables. For example, the first word has 1 syllable, the second word has 2 syllables, etc. There is no limit to line length, and rhyme is not required.
- Seven-eleven couplet — Stanzaic, with any number of rhyming couplets. Each couplet has a line length of 7 or 11 syllables, in any possible combination (i.e. 7-7, 7-11, 11-11, 11-7). The only stipulation is that lines 6 and 11 (if there is one) are always 11 syllables.
There may well be more, but these are the forms I have come across up to this point. And to be honest, I think we have plenty to work with right here.
In summary, the Sonnetina Due is:
- A decastich (10-line poem) written in five couplets, usually with no spaces between.
- There is no set line length or rhythm, although they are usually written in iambic tetrameter or pentameter.
- They may be unrhymed, but if rhymed, the rhyme scheme is aabbccddee.
Below are two samples for you. So far I have written Sonnetina Due poems utilizing short, heroic, Alexandrine, split, alpha, rhophalic, and 7-11 couplets. I decided to share the split and alpha couplets with you for my sample poems because they are the most out of the ordinary, thus perhaps the most interesting, as far as form goes. Tomorrow I will post the one written with rhopalic couplets, “Afternoon Ride.” When it is posted—or rather, when I wake up in the morning—I’ll return here and add the link.
“T-Boned” is serious, but has a positive ending. “The Lonely Albino” has a touch of humor but with a sad ending. Perhaps someone would even find a moral in the story: to learn to resolve conflict between friends lest you end up alone in the end.
“This is really happening”—turn and dash
Then came the crash
“What on earth was on her mind?” Through the light
Caused such a fright
Slammed the brakes and pressed them hard—car destroyed
Still alive, and conscious still—but the pain
The mounting pain!
Though healing will be long, yet I foretell
All will be well.
Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
The Lonely Albino
An ambitious, amazing, attractive albino
Somehow got caught up with a derelict whino.
While boldly banging a broken banjo,
His derelict friend copied pictures of Van Gogh.
Then chowing calmly on cold calamari,
They both made a wish on the night sky so starry.
But daily disputing, a deep, dark discussion
Ended their friendship with great repercussion.
Now his endless, eccentric, egregious echo
Is only returned by a colorless gecko.
Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
It’s Your Turn!
Now it’s time for you to write a Sonnetina Due. 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
- Choose a couplet, either from the list above or another that I did not cover.
- May I suggest you write on a piece of paper or in a notebook.
- Down the left column write the numbers representing the syllables (or feet) required for each line. Note that they will all be the same unless you are using the split or 7-11 couplets.
- Across from the numbers, in the right column, write the letter for your rhyme scheme, if rhyming is required for the form you have chosen (aabbccddee).
- 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 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.