Some thoughts on Sestinas

There’s a poetic form that some poets have run
into. It seems insanely challenging, so I have to hand
it to those poets who can pull it off. First, they take
six un-rhyming words, and then they set
those words at the ends of six lines. But then, they turn
the order of those words in the next stanza. There’s no short cut

to writing this form, so most poets would rather cut
their own throats rather than run
the risk of writing something lousy. They’ll toss and turn
while dreaming of this form. Their writing hand
will probably cramp up if they merely set
their eyes on one of these pieces. Take

my word for it, it’ll take
a much braver man than me to cut
that particular rug! The set
of rules for this form will run
on for a page or two. The minute hand
might make a complete turn

or more before you can turn
those words into something that you can take
to your publisher (if you even dare hand
it in at all!). So you might as well cut
out any idea of writing this form. Go run
a marathon instead (it’s probably easier). Set

goals that are more realistic! I know, I’ve set
you up to believe that this form is impossible to turn
into anything. It’s true! You’d need to run
a computer program just to take
those words and put them in the right order. So cut
your losses before you start. I’ll even give you a hand

with trying something else instead! We poets should stand hand
in hand, throw out those restrictive forms, and set
ourselves up for success! Just now, I cut
those pages out of my poetry manual. Now you can’t even turn
to those pages by accident! So take
care of yourself. You’ll be better off in the long-run!

What I’m saying is, if you were to hand me a task to turn
a set of words into a sestina, I’d take
whatever chance I could to cut and run


The Sestina is a ridiculously stupid form that was thought up by someone who either hated himself, or wanted to cause other poets to suffer.  So naturally, I wrote one for OLN at dVerse (and this just after I told one of the other poets, that I might attempt the form…someday.  Although the form has, in the past, had a more strict meter, it’s apparently not outside of the rules to play a bit “fast and loose” with the meter and syllable count.

The rules of the sestina are rather complex, so if you are interested, you can check out what Wikipedia has to say on the matter.


24 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Sestinas

  1. Bwahaha…laughing so that the tears are running down my face. Yes, it is a bit masochistic, I suppose (which makes me wonder why I kinda find it fun.) But you nailed it. Now try it with meter and chose 3 X 2 words that rhyme. Nyah.

  2. This is awesome! And I’m laughing because I literally just (as in 5 minutes ago) pulled out my journal and jotted down the order of the ending words for each stanza of a sestina in the margin and a few potential ending words with plans to write one by this weekend. It won’t be nearly as fun as this one is, but you have given me the courage to break the rules a bit and not worry so much about the meter. 🙂 Peace, Linda

  3. I think I can’t manage a marathon nor a sestina poem like you ~ I am smiling at your verses, though this form is very restrictive, it does have a nice rhyming pattern ~ Good work Byran & thanks for bringing the fun to writing to form poetry 🙂

  4. Bravo! You have definitely fulfilled the sestina challenge, and I commend you. You did not ‘cut and run’ but worked the form beautifully. I guess there is time for those restrictive forms & time for free verse as well. Me? I passed on the sestina (today)!

  5. My dear sir, you are freaking brilliant! I’ve never written a Sestina before (I kind of love myself). But you know what? After reading this valiant (and hysterical) example of the form, I find myself tempted. It won’t be today, or tomorrow, but soon… I shall write one (since you’ve poetized the rules in such a yummy way).

    Really, really, really enjoyed this. 🙂

      • Maybe someday! Good advice I can see you had fun with it, that’s what counts! I usually write short forms and Dr. Seuss-like rhymes but one never knows. ;^)

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