Triolet

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.

12 comments

the walking man said...

Tell you what Jon...I will break the rules before I know them so that when I know them I will also know I have a'ready broken them. ;-]

My goodness there are so many forms that have arisen and taken root over the past three millennium that to keep them all clear is a lifetimes occupation.

October 21, 2009 at 5:04 AM
Harlequin said...

I can't wait to get going on this.... hah; wonderful!
your two examples make me smile

October 21, 2009 at 11:42 AM
Jon said...

Walking man,

HA! What's the point of rules if you can't break them! And yeah, there are some who will spend a lifetime sorting through all the different forms that have been discovered... and then discover new ones as well.

Harle,

Thought you'd like this form. Looking forward to what you come up with on this.

October 21, 2009 at 1:31 PM
timmy said...

i gave it a try - see "sad song" on my blog

October 22, 2009 at 8:39 AM
Jon said...

timmy,
thanks! will do that... see you there

October 22, 2009 at 3:25 PM
Harlequin said...

have done the deed.... and will likely try another!
thanks

October 23, 2009 at 9:27 PM
Jon said...

Harle,
Thanks... I go on over and check it out!

October 25, 2009 at 2:28 PM
Anon Andon said...

My brain hurts. But I'll put this somewhere in the whirred blender and see what I can find.

October 26, 2009 at 5:38 PM
Anon Andon said...

Straight from the blender:

Gentile Triolet, Je te plumerais
http://anonandonagain.blogspot.com/2009/10/i-met-you.html

October 26, 2009 at 8:37 PM
Jon said...

Thanks Anon Andon,

I'll get over to your site and check this out. Hope the brain and the subconscious soup has settled...

October 30, 2009 at 8:30 AM
Anon Andon said...

That soup never settles, Jon; and the soup kitchen never closes.

If it works for your expressive project, feel free to add me to the blogs list.

October 30, 2009 at 12:58 PM
Jon said...

Anon Andon,

Will do... you're on the hit list now!

October 30, 2009 at 1:23 PM