Form Challenges #20

Of the more precisely defined variations of the form that we have today, the oldest is the Italian Sonnet, also known as the Petrarchan Sonnet, after its creator, Francesco Petrarca. It had no set structure originally and it was only after it's adoption by the English that defined the Italian Sonnet to be of Iambic pentameter and consist of an octave, or 8-line stanza, followed by a sestet, or 6-line stanza.

The octave sets up a situation upon which the sestet comments. Alternatively, the octave makes a statement, the sestet a counter statement as in the following example by John Milton:

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

John Milton

There are three basic Italian Sonnet Forms;
  1. Italian.
  2. Sicilian and
  3. Sonetto Rispetto.
The difference is in the octave.The octave is constructed of two quatrains.
  1. The Italian has a rhyming scheme of, a.b.b.a....a.b.b.a.
  2. The Sicilian has a rhyming scheme of, a.b.b.a....c.d.d.c.
  3. The Sonetto Rispetto uses uses either sestet with the Ottava Rima Octave which is very different from the two previous forms and has a rhyming scheme of a.b.a.b.a.b.c.c.

Each of these forms can also have a choice of two sestets, Italian and Sicilian:
  1. The Italian sestet consists of two tercets (of 3 lines) with the rhyme scheme.. .1.2.3....1.2.3.
  2. The Sicilian Sestet, has a rhyme scheme of .

This gives a permutation of six poetry forms. "Reflections in an Attic Room" by Wesley Court, gives excellent examples of the variations of these forms.

As was stated previously, the original versions of Italian poetry had no set meter, it was only much later that Wyatt and Spencer formalised it by the use of Iambic Pentameter.

Italian Sonnet Posts

Lorraine Dafney

Perfectly Poised

Ryter Roethicle

Adoro che cosa puÚ mai essere mine
Fall in York Beach
Lost and Found
Lust II
Lust III
Questions at a Distance

Leny Roovers

The Final Fight
Yoga XI

Lorraine Dafney

Perfectly Poised
Ottava Rima Octave, Italian Sestet

Moonlights shadows flickered upon black satin sheets
Her long curly black hair covered her nude body
There she dreamed of feeling her lover's body heat
Only he could satisfy her passion gently
She waited to feel his lips bring kisses so sweet
When her perfume filled the air as the fan spun swiftly
A creation an image in her mind
Brought tender moments filled with love so kind

She kept this secret for years
He would be the perfect man for her
She would be the perfect woman for him
Together they would confess their fears
Behind glass their lives together
So life like after all, two mannequins

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Ryter Roethicle

Adoro che cosa puÚ mai essere mine
Sicilian Octave and Sestet

I worship what can never be mine,
Nor possibly ever pass for what is a dream,
But she is real, and all that love may seem,
And so we will wait and bide our time.
Love is a silly state, that makes fools of us all,
But fools are happiest in that state,
And are happier still when led by fate,
Ever satisfied whilst they hear souls call.

Souls are easy guided by their lovers eyes,
Those windows betray what beats inside.
For that flash, that sparkle, cannot disguise,
An aftermath of love that cannot be denied.
So for a while there are just temporary ties,
And in that belief, other things are laid aside.


Fall in York Beach
Ottava Rima Octave, Sicilian Sestet

The cold, sombre, purple skies of fall
Are memories precious to all now.
The screaming of children playing ball
Replaced by gulls foraging for chow,
In white capped surf that covers all
And crashing waves that dig and plough.
No crusted bread torn and fed by hand
Or peanut-butter mixed with sand.

White silver scars pattern each dark cloud
A very different sky from a summerís day.
Gone the ghetto blasters booming loud
And the screaming tyres as teenagers play.
Wintery rain from the forming shrouds
Makes the road a varnished black highway.


Lost and Found
Ottava Rima Octave, Italian Sestet

I lost my heart to a heart unknown
Hidden deep within my tangled mind
Around which has hard callous grown.
I did not look for love nor expect to find
My mind was set and my heart like stone
And to all temptation I had gone blind.
Now there is one that claims my soul
Finally one who makes me whole.

On waking I think still of my heart
But now I can see that it is well,
Held in the hands of someone
Who was a stranger and now a part
Who gives a look to me as if to tell
"Your mine, together we are one".


Sicilian Octave, Italian Sestet

My lover, I need you, help me. Forbid me not.
I want to take you. I am yours, lust-stricken
And trembling as on the edge of sense, I quicken
Like a fiddle tight strung, to a place long forgot.
No words, no thoughts can reach me now, taunt
Me now, as tiny cries escape from me un-muted
By slender threads that bind us, un-disputed
I am yours. Yours to play or please. No saint,

Just pleasure. For quiet converse or a fiery kiss,
Or summer walks past silent tombs of gold,
And thoughts we share, and tales told, un-repent,
About heady, pulsing, throbbing sex. Remiss
Of coupling, whilst abed, holding in the night, cold
Before you came, warm now from lust well-spent.


Lust II
Italian Octave and Sestet

My lover, why do you press yourself against me
Why do you tremble when I touch you so?
Your eyes wet and shine with an inner glow.
Such sighs and movements make my senses flee.
Too easy now I lose myself and become as thee
Consumed, aflame, as wit and reason quickly go
In their stead see a flame doth quickly grow
And I must taste thy nectar, for I am thy bee.

Whilst abed in congress will be such pleasure
Each night taken with licentious sport and plays
And with your body an altar on which to worship
We shall create memories on which to treasure
I promise our travails will include the days
From whence honeyed dew from you I'll sip.


Lust III
Italian Octave and Sestet

Whilst abed in dark of night, I feel the beat
As your kisses arouse me, and once again
I become a beast blinded by the pulsing heat.
Passion taking over, becoming only semi sane
And as your mouth leaves me and I am incomplete
Still left with other pleasures that I must attain
I feel heat surround me that matches my own
Driving me to heights that I have never known.

Now we are riding with the storm,
Who is the rider and who the beast?
There is no sense as we drive each other on,
The humpback beastie keeps changing form
Such manna on which to feast
Till the final cries, then all is gone.


Questions at a Distance
Sicilian Octave and Sestet

Too soon time flies, then lovers part
Then spend their time regretting waste.
Should wasted times together be replaced
By ones not thought of at the start.
But think, what did you really miss,
One extra coupling, one extra touch?
Were you not together very much,
Or do you just long for one more kiss?

Consider only that you were there
Two lovers who for one short while
Shared and laid their souls out bare.
Where love and honesty the only style
Lasting promises were made to care
And although apart is still worthwhile.

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Leny Roovers

The Final Fight
Sicilian Sonnet

In cold earthís arms your body came to rest.
The fight had lasted years and winning swayed,
as bleeding cuts were caused by poisoned blades-
you parried thrusts no longer played in jest.
The venom spread within your tissuesí cells,
deformed the life-force, till it stopped to flow-
the marrow in your bones refused to grow-
deteriorated, in between bright spells.

Each point you made, was cheered on by the crowd,
each wound received we mourned, in closing ranks;
each little death survived, would make you proud,
your smile and laughter cheerful, filled with thanks.
Yet gone are silver linings from your clouds-
the pistols given, fired only blanks.


Yoga XI
Sicilian Sonnet

My head is filled with thoughts that fight for space
inside my skull- a throng I canít escape.
Iím losing ground and balance, panic gapes-
a flash of hands, holding a downward mace.
My feet have given way, Iím on my knees-
submissionís just a breath away, when light
discriminates, dissolves my crippling fright.
In dawning consciousness unfolds life's breeze.

Cross-legged, with heels aligned, I meditate;
each breath a birth that travels up to bloom,
expanding chest and lungs, to pause fulfilled
in joyful unison, we thus create.
Released, the air flows back into my womb,
reviving soul and body- pr„na-thrilled.

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