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Jan's Poetry Class--TRIOLET

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Jan's Poetry Class--TRIOLET

Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:04 am

I had a nice leisurely Saturday afternoon, so I thought I’d tackle a poetry form that’s new to me—the triolet. (I hope you all realize that I’m learning right along with you, which is why I’m delighted when you real poets chime in with your own insights and experiences.)

The triolet is written in two quatrains. If you’ve forgotten what a quatrain is, go ahead and review that lesson. We’ll wait for you.

Here are the main characteristics of a triolet:

1. There are only two rhymes in the 8 lines—an “A” rhyme and a “B” rhyme
2. Lines 1 is repeated in its entirety in line 4 and line 7
3. Line 2 is repeated in its entirety in line 8
4. Lines 3 and 5 rhyme with line 1 (the “A” rhyme)
5. Line 6 rhymes with line 2 (the “B” rhyme


Here’s another way of showing the set-up of the triolet, line by line:

1. your first line (a)
2. your second line (b)
3. your third line (a) which rhymes with line 1
4. repeat of line 1
5. your fifth line (a) which rhymes with line 1
6. your sixth line (b) which rhymes with line 2
7. repeat of line 1 (a)
8. repeat of line 2 (b)


There’s no particular meter that must be used in a triolet, but it should be a metered poem. So when you pick a pattern of STRESSED/unstressed syllables, stick to it for the whole poem.

You may pick your mood—unlike limericks and clerihews (which are humorous), and haiku (which are usually contemplative), a triolet may be either light or serious.

How about a few examples? Here’s one by Adelaide Crapsey:

Song

I make my shroud, but no one knows --
So shimmering fine it is and fair,
With stitches set in even rows,
I make my shroud, but no one knows.

In door-way where the lilac blows,
Humming a little wandering air,
I make my shroud and no one knows,
So shimmering fine it is and fair.


She’s chosen 8-syllable lines, with an unstressed/STRESSED meter. I hope you also notice her beautiful imagery and symbolism. These are literary devices that the good poet should have in her repertoire; poetry uses language differently from prose. It’s not enough to just master rhyme and meter—a theme I returned to over and over in my poetry presentation at last year’s conference.

Here’s another one, by Frances Cornford:

To a Fat Lady Seen From the Train
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?


Her meter’s a little bit trickier; she’s got those ‘stops’ in there (I forgot what you call ‘em…Steve? Steve?), but her lines have approximately 11 and 7 syllables (or ‘beats’) and a pattern of STRESSED/unstressed/unstressed syllables. Again, notice her strong imagery and somewhat blunt language.

Well, I couldn’t ask you to write a triolet without attempting one myself. Here’s what I came up with—and believe me, it was hard. Poetry just doesn’t come naturally to me, and despite the fact that some of the lines are repeated, cutting the poet’s work in half, it was still difficult. I wanted to avoid any forced rhymes and to incorporate some nice metaphors.

Vigil

She sits at the window, unfurling her soul
And waits for him, knowing he’ll come
All her love she has written on this fragile scroll
She sits at the window, unfurling her soul

But the hours pile up while the minutes unroll
So she gathers her manuscript some
She sits at the window, unfurling her soul
And waits for him, hoping he’ll come.


Notice that I took one small liberty with the form—I substituted “hoping” for “knowing” in the last line. I’m still wavering about that one—not sure if she’s a sadder character if she trades knowledge for hope, or if she’s sadder if she clings to knowledge despite circumstances. (What do you think?)

If you wanted to use a triolet for the Writing Challenge, you’d probably have to extend it to six quatrains to get enough words. You’d have to decide, then, if you wanted to use the same two rhymes throughout, or if you wanted to change to (c and d) rhymes in the second triolet, and (e and f) in the third.

Well, you know it’s coming—

Homework: Write a triolet.

Please let us know your process for writing it, and anything else you’d like to say about this poetry form.
Last edited by glorybee on Mon May 17, 2010 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:21 am

Bumping my own post, because it wasn't stickied.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby yvonne » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:35 am

glorybee wrote:Bumping my own post, because it wasn't stickied.


We need to buy you some super glue, Jan!

I've never seen triolets before. I'll work on one today.
(btw, don't you love that word - triolets? It's poetry all by itself!)

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Re: Jan's Poetry Class--TRIOLET

Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:41 am

glorybee wrote:Her meter’s a little bit trickier; she’s got those ‘stops’ in there (I forgot what you call ‘em…Steve? Steve?),


Caesura (plural: caesuras or caesurae).
Steve
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things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby GShuler » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:07 pm

I'll be first with something simple (it only took five minutes, so don't expect much.) Later maybe I can do something deeper.

Point me in the way that I should go,
I promise not to question what you say.
Lord, I’ll always seek the truth you show;
Point me in the way that I should go.
Keep me from the path that leads to woe
And I, with child-like faith, will daily pray
“Point me in the way that I should go,
I promise not to question what you say.”
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:05 pm

Ah, poetry for lunch.

Here’s the SUPPOSED Triolet from my Summerpiece that I’ve directed folks to before:

The fireflies do dance and dart!
They glow and fade, now here, now there.
In imitation play the part
The fireflies do. Dance and dart
Around the yard as through the air
The fireflies do dance and dart.
They fade and glow, now here, now there

BUT IT’S NOT A TRIOLET! Look at it with line numbering:

1. The fireflies do dance and dart!
2. They glow and fade, now here, now there.
3. In imitation play the part
4. The fireflies do. Dance and dart
5.
6. Around the yard as through the air
7. The fireflies do dance and dart.
8. They fade and glow, now here, now there.

Line 5 (which has to rhyme with dart) is missing! I think I was so intent on a technique that I will mention next that I just messed up, but since all my notes/scraps from that Challenge entry are at the house, I’m not sure. Something could have dropped out as I re-typed it.

I could have had something like this:

1. The fireflies do dance and dart!
2. They glow and fade, now here, now there.
3. In imitation play the part
4. The fireflies do. Dance and dart
5. And skip and run with joyous heart
6. Around the yard as through the air
7. The fireflies do dance and dart.
8. They fade and glow, now here, now there.

Also, in line 3, with hindsight, I would add a comma after “imitation.”

Finally, there is the issue of minor alterations that Jan raised. I changed “glow and fade” (line 2) to “fade and glow” (line 7) for the sake of the “cycle”--wanting to emphsize the"glow" at this point, not the "fade." (If you’ve read the Challenge piece, you’ll know.)

Anyway, here is the technique I wanted to mention. When you repeat your lines, it is permissible—and common—to alter the punctuation, etc. to keep the poem from seeming too redundant. My First “The fireflies do dance and dart!” is a stand alone exclamatory sentence. In lines 4-5 via enjambment, “The fireflies do” and “Dance and dart” aren’t even part of the same sentence. They are each part of two different imperative sentences. In line 7, “The fireflies do dance and dart” is a phrase at the end of the same sentence with the prior “Dance and dart, but one applies to the fireflys and one to the person.
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby yvonne » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:16 pm

Steve, you're a master at these!
Well done! (even with the missing line)

I love the picture of the fireflies.
I need to attempt one.

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Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:41 pm

GShuler wrote:I'll be first with something simple (it only took five minutes, so don't expect much.) Later maybe I can do something deeper.

Point me in the way that I should go,
I promise not to question what you say.
Lord, I’ll always seek the truth you show;
Point me in the way that I should go.
Keep me from the path that leads to woe
And I, with child-like faith, will daily pray
“Point me in the way that I should go,
I promise not to question what you say.”


Gerald, this is a beautiful prayer, and one that we all should share.

I look forward to your "something deeper"!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:43 pm

Steve, thanks for both the reminder of the vocabulary word, and for walking us through your triolet-writing process.

Hope to see another one from you here, some time this week!
Jan Ackerson

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The Distant Smoke

Postby OldManRivers » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:30 pm

in the air, the smoke of a distant fire,
the remembrance of what I have yet to know,
the bells that ring from the unseen spire,
in the air, the smoke of a distant fire,
the first autumn trace of my life's funeral pyre,
the beckoning, the reckoning, to which we all must go,
in the air, the smoke of a distant fire,
the remembrance of what I have yet to know.
May God's gentle grace be with you.

Jim McWhinnie

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Re: The Distant Smoke

Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:37 pm

OldManRivers wrote:in the air, the smoke of a distant fire,
the remembrance of what I have yet to know,
the bells that ring from the unseen spire,
in the air, the smoke of a distant fire,
the first autumn trace of my life's funeral pyre,
the beckoning, the reckoning, to which we all must go,
in the air, the smoke of a distant fire,
the remembrance of what I have yet to know.


Jim, this is haunting and gorgeous...that first and second line are stunning. The imagery and metaphor are perfect throughout. What a great poet you are!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby OldManRivers » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:08 pm

I am humbled by your gracious words, Jan.

jim
May God's gentle grace be with you.

Jim McWhinnie

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Re: Jan's Poetry Class--TRIOLET

Postby pheeweed » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:13 pm

glorybee wrote:It’s not enough to just master rhyme and meter—


Great. I haven't mastered rhyme and meter yet and you throw something else at me. : )

Poem (if you can call it that) to come later.

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Postby swfdoc1 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:37 pm

glorybee wrote:Hope to see another one from you here, some time this week!


You asked for it!

All I Need to Write a Triolet

I have a first line. It's called A.
And a second line. It's called B
My pesky first line won't go away.
I have a first line. It's called A:
For lines four and seven just say
One again. That's all I need, see?
I have a first line. It's called A.
And a second line. It's called B.
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby glorybee » Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:41 pm

Steve! It's so deep, so meaningful, so profound!

I'm not sure I've even come close to grasping all the spiritual and emotional remifications. I'll have to mull it over for a while.

Okay, done mulling. Nice job!
Jan Ackerson

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