10-line Poem Challenge #32: Sonnetina Uno

The Sonnetina Uno is the fifth sonnetina form we have studied together, since we started with Sonnetina Cinque and worked backwards. I did that for a reason. Forms Due through Cinque have quite a bit of variety within their general framework. But the Sonnetina Uno is different because it has only one acceptable format: blank verse.Blank verse is unrhymed, but if that were all, then we would simply call it free verse. What is the difference between blank verse and free verse? I’m glad you asked. The difference is in the structure.

Free verse has virtually no structure. There is no rhyme, rhythm, specified line length, or any other stipulation. Free verse does, however, contain certain elements that make it poetic. Line breaks (caesuras) are the most obvious of those elements. While they may appear random to the casual reader, the poet carefully chooses where to divide the line in order to create a certain mood or interpretation. And while end rhyme is not present, there may be other literary devises such as internal rhyme, assonance, consonance, or the repetition of words and phrases.

The identifying feature of blank verse is its rhythm and meter, for it is always written in iambic pentameter, but without rhyme. A particular type of blank verse, called the blank sonnet, is a fourteen-line unrhymed poem written in iambic pentameter. Thus, a 10-line blank verse in iambic pentameter would be a blank sonnetina, or the Sonnetina Uno.

I would be remiss if I failed to explain the terms iambic and pentameter, for the sake of those who are unfamiliar with these terms.

A line of poetry can be measured in syllables (individual stresses and unstresses) or in feet (patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables).

An iamb is a poetic foot having two syllables, where the first syllable is unstressed and the second is stressed. An example of an iamb is the word appear [ap-PEAR]. Iambic is the adjective form of the noun iamb.

Pentameter simply refers to the number of feet in each line—in this case, five.

Now using the first line of one of my sample poems, I’ll illustrate what iambic pentameter looks like. First, here is the line without alterations:

Upon an ancient wicker rocker sits

And here it is again, only this time I’ve divided the line into syllables and written the unstressed syllables in lower-case letters and the stressed syllables in uppercase letters, to make the pattern easy to see:

u-PON | an AN- | cient WIC- | ker ROC- | ker SITS

You can easily notice that each strong syllable is preceded by a weak one. If you have learned the names and patterns of the metric feet (or have a cheat sheet to refer to), then you know this is the iambic pattern. Then counting the stressed syllables (in all caps), you will see five of them, so you may conclude that this line is written in iambic pentameter. Not every foot has to be iambic in order to classify a poem as iambic, but the majority of them should be so.

If you have been accustomed to counting syllables, you may enjoy learning to count feet instead, because it can greatly simplify the counting. For instance, a line of iambic pentameter has five feet, but ten syllables. Would you rather count ten syllables, or five feet? When I am writing a poem and counting feet, I read (or say) the line out loud, exaggerating the accented syllables and counting them on my fingers. I usually count them before writing the line down on paper. Most of the time the count is already correct, but sometimes I catch myself with too few or (more often) too many syllables. By finding that error before I write the line, I can make my first revision without having to erase or scratch anything out. There will still be revisions, but at least I know that what gets written down is the proper length.

In summary, the Sonnetina Uno is:

  • A decastich (10-line poem) written in one single stanza.
  • It is unrhymed and written in iambic pentameter.
  • In other words, it is written in blank verse.


Below are two samples for you. Although the structure has no room for flexibility, the theme is entirely up to you. This form seems to me to lend itself to a spirit of introspection, and you will find that played out in the poems I have written. But that does not mean you must do the same, if your muse is sending you a different direction.

Baby Doll

Upon an ancient wicker rocker sits
A pretty little lady just as old.
How fair her alabaster cheeks, and smooth,
Yet never do they dimple with a grin.
Her azure eyes look on, but nothing see;
No word from her red lips was ever heard.
Those chubby little arms will never reach
As if to beckon me to hold her close.
My dear, if you and I had never met,
I’d be as lifeless as that baby doll.

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved


I love the way a photograph can call
To mind the memory of times long gone.
You come across the camping scene and soon
You smell the ‘mallows roasting in the fire
And feel the dancing warmth upon your skin.
You look around at faces shadowed there
And faintly hear the echo of the songs,
The giggles, and the screams from ghostly tales.
You feel a shoulder snuggle close to yours—
All this from one small picture in your hand.

Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved

It’s Your Turn!

Now it’s time for you to write a Sonnetina Uno. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Choose a topic. It can be anything. If you’re struggling for an idea, you might consider the Daily Prompts from The Daily Post
  2. May I suggest you write on a piece of paper or in a notebook.
  3. Down the left column write the numbers representing the syllables (5, or 10 for feet) required for each line.
  4. Leave the right column blank because there is no rhyme.
  5. Try to avoid filler words. Instead, use a thesaurus to find precise words that give you the right syllable count for each line.
  6. And of course, when you are finished, share your poem with the rest of us.

Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…

  1. Write your blog post.
  2. Include the tag Decastich Challenge or 10LPC
  3. Publish your post on your blog.
  4. Come back here and click the blue button below to add your link to the others.

Dig Deeper

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.

6 Replies to “10-line Poem Challenge #32: Sonnetina Uno”

  1. Thanks for this! I’ve only just begun writing poems and I’ll try my best to keep these tips in mind! I’m a newbie to blogging so please do check out my new blog and give me suggestions for improving my poems!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome! I do hope to see more of you, and I will certainly check out your blog as well. It may take me a while, though, as I’m getting ready to go out of the country for a short visit. My posts will be here, but I myself will be in and out for most of the month of June. Happy writing!


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