The triolet is a French poetic form consisting of eight lines, turning on only two rhymes, and including two refrains. The scheme is A-B-a-A-a-b-A-B. Each line of the poem is the same metrical length. Here's an example I wrote earlier. Each line in this one is five syllables, and I've put in the rhyme and refrain scheme.

Words are fussy things (A)
Meaning on the move (B)
Bells, whistles and rings (a)
Words are fussy things (A)
When the poet sings (a)
And the flowers prove (b)
Words are fussy things (A)
Meaning on the move (B)

This form seems to be fairly simple at first sight, but you might find that when you sit down to write one that you get stuck. What I have the most trouble with is that there are only five distinct lines, and that the (A) refrain has to be used three times... makes me think closely about the line (A) & (B). Here's another example from today's writing:

Virgil led Dante down to hell
Dirty soap suds spiral the drain
Like Satan thrown from heaven fell
Virgil led Dante down to hell
A ghastly and sulfuric smell
Chased each breath with a shot of pain
Virgil led Dante down to hell
Dirty soap suds spiral the drain

And if you want to get really adventurous with this form, you might try to change the refrain lines with punctuation. Some writers will put a comma or a fullstop in a refrain and have it lead into the next line to enhance the effect or to change the meaning of the line. Once you've got the rules down, the thing to do next is to break them! If you decide to try a triolet, let me know so I can check it out. I'd love to see what you come up with.


An allegory is a story told on two levels simultaneously, the narrative level and the symbolic level. At each point in the story on the narrative level, there is a corresponding point on the symbolic level. Fables and parables are two examples of allegories, and are often intended to teach a lesson by allowing the reader to extrapolate the figurative, as opposed to the literal, meaning of the story. One very well known allegory, Plato's "Allegory of the Cave", is just such an educational story.

Link to an animated interpretation of the Allegory of the Cave

Link to a text of the Allegory of the Cave

An allegory will often use many different figurative devices to convey meaning to an audience or reader. Some of these include metaphor, allusion, pun, hyperbole, oxymoron, and many others. An allegory need not be a long story, and sometimes poems or short prose can be written allegorically, as in this example below:

A sculptor begins
with a slab of granite
and hopes to find
the essence within
that means to be found.

A sculptor seeks perfection,
to make in stone
and soul-transfiguring
the human form divine.

But if a sculptor polishes
the same stone
for long enough
then it becomes

What do you think the meaning of this allegory might be? If you're interested, another example in the form of a short story I wrote some time ago can be found at this link. If you decide to write an allegory of your own, leave me a comment so I can check it out. You'll probably find this mode of expression is quite natural to you... someone once told me that allegories and metaphor are at the root of our knowing and storying the world.