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Understanding Poetry: The Triolet

The triolet is a fixed form dating back to the 13th century with French origin. It's composed of a total of eight lines, with the rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB which creates one stanza in length.The first line sets up the refrain, or the repeated lines in the poem for lines one, four, and seven. With this pattern, only two rhymes are used throughout the poem. The first line is the declaration, while the other lines go further into the subject matter. The subject of the triolet is up the Poet.

How Great My Grief by Thomas Hardy

Line One (A) How great my grief, my joys how few,
Line Two (B) Since first it was my fate to know thee!
Line Three (a) - Have the slow years not brought to view
Line Four (A) How great my grief, my joys how few,
Line Five (a) Nor memory shaped old times anew,
Line Six (b) Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
Line Seven (A)How great my grief, my joys how few,
Line Eight (B) Since first it was my fate to know thee?

Notice how lines one, four, and seven are the same. This is the refrain. The letters (A) are capitalized to distinguish this in the rhyme scheme.

Notice how lines two and eight are a refrain as well.

Notice the end rhyme in corresponding letters (A). These lines have end rhymes of few, view, and anew. All letters (B) have no rhyme at all.

Poetry Prompt : Write a triolet based on a moment in time which you wish was frozen forever. Stay true to the fixed form and challenge yourself to keep the tone respective the subject matter, using imagery to display movement from line to line.

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