by Ashley Lister
Whenever I teach
poetry, there will often be a student arguing against rhyme or railing against
the discipline of meter or battling the regimented notion of syllable counting.
My usual response, that the practice of poetry is assisted by working to the
structure of established forms, often seems like a poor comeback. Oftentimes,
as a compromise, we’ll end up working on the tritina.
The tritina is a
ten line form of unrhymed poetry, broken into three tercets (three-lined
stanzas) with a final, solitary, line.
The device that makes the tritina remarkable is its use of repeated
words, once in each line, in the pattern of A B C, C A B, B C A. The final line
of the tritina includes all three of the A B C words.
Kisses, Crops and Canes
For years they met and shared their kisses
Sating a passion for crops
Exploring a passion for canes
They learnt each other’s favourite canes
Then chased each stripe with tender kisses
And chased each kiss with cruel crops
Eventually they outgrew crops
Their need for pain outgrew the canes
But never once did they eschew kisses
Kisses do so much more than crops and canes
You’ll notice here
that the ABC words kisses(A), crops(B) and canes(C) are repeated at the end of the lines in the aforementioned
pattern: A B C, C A B, B C A. In the final line it doesn’t matter about the order
of the three words as long as they’re all there.
When we meet you insist that I should kneel
(before we undress, touch, or kiss) and
you insist that at your feet I worship
It helps that you’re so worthy of worship
and that I need to kneel
at your feet and
remain there paying homage and
promising other forms of worship
that I might still do whilst I kneel
How I love to hear you whisper: “Kneel and worship.”
There is no fixed
meter, although the poem appears to work best when each line contains a similar
number of syllables. In this one you’ll notice that the ABC words kneel(A), and(B) and worship(C)
are repeated (again) in the aforementioned pattern: A B C, C A B, B C A. I’ve
managed to get my ABC words as the last three in the final line – although this
isn’t a necessity.
As always, I look
forward to seeing your poems in the comments box below.