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Young Writers Society
Poetic Forms: The Terza Rima
Tue May 13, 2014 6:37 pm
The Terza Rima
I'm going to describe for you the Terza Rima, which was one of my first introductions to poetry. I think the best thing about this form is how subtle it can be and how gently it holds the poet’s words and themes together. Let’s take a look at how Frost engages his readers with the form:
Acquainted with the Night
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
I have been one acquainted with the night. (a)
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. (b)
I have outwalked the furthest city light. (a)
I have looked down the saddest city lane. (b)
I have passed by the watchman on his beat (c)
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. (b)
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet (c)
When far away an interrupted cry (d)
Came over houses from another street, (c)
But not to call me back or say good-bye; (d)
And further still at an unearthly height (e)
One luminary clock against the sky (d)
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. (e)
I have been one acquainted with the night. (e)
How to do it
The Terza Rima is traditionally a 14 line poem, but can be extended or shortened.
Each of the early stanzas consists of three lines, where the first and third rhyme with one another, while the second line rhymes with the first and second of the next stanza.
The poem usually ends with a rhyming couplet, which also rhymes with the middle line of the previous stanza.
This is represented as: aba bcb cdc ded ee
A Terza Rima also consists of lines written in Iambic Pentameter. This is ten syllables in length and a rhythm of:
Da- DUM Da-DUM Da-DUM Da-DUM Da-DUM
Every second word should be a stress word, or have the ability to be stressed.
Find more poetic forms at
The light shines brightest in the darkest places.
This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.
— Winston Churchill
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