A terzanelle is a modified form of the villanelle.

It uses the interlocked rhyme pattern of a terza rima but in the villanelle’s form of five triplets and a quatrain.

The middle line of the 1st stanza becomes the third line of the next stanza, and so on. It means that the terzanelle is a huge pain, but leaves you delirious with joy if you finish one and still get pleasure when you read the finished monster aloud.Since the repeated line changes, the rhyme sounds change, which makes it a little easier on the ears during the writing process (unless you are trying to find a rhyme for Osgiliath)

The terzanelle is a good form for the recovering obsessive-compulsive who has been able to put down the villanelle without hurting themselves.

Honestly, I love them, but a villanelle can be overpowering. A terzanelle is a little more subtle, and gives you a little more scope.

They are strictly written in iambic pentamater, but playing with the foot and stress can be a good way to get better flow – ideally, though, you should keep all lines in whatever meter you picked.

(Having said that, I will point out that in my Faramir Terzanelle, Jewel of the Hunt I somehow lost my hold on the last stanza and added an extra unstressed syllable so that I could use the word feather. I have no intention of fixing it now, because I am too caught up in the flow and meaning of those lines. Check that out if you want to see for yourself if it disturbs your experience in reading a terzanelle when that happens.

The first and third lines are going to repeat as your end thought, so that’s a good place to start. Think of a pair of lines that sum up what you want the poem to say, and put them down at the bottom. If they look good to you, add them at the top and see if you can split them apart with the first ‘b’ line and still get them to make sense.

If they do, play with the last words a little and see if you are going to be able to get rhymes that will do you any good. (Remember me and my quest for Osgiliath...)

Now make some basic notes about the path the you want the poem to take. If you have lines you know you want to use, put them in a random verse and work around them – at this stage it is not too hard to move them if you get what you want.

remember, the trick with repeating poetry is to try to get the repeaters to either change silghtly (or wildly) in meaning, or to build to a head of steam. For monstrously good terzanelles, try to get the end of your thought/sentence to fall in the middle of the line.

Ok, here is your form:

A first a
B first b
A second a

B second b
C first c
B repeat first b

C second c
D first D
C repeat first c

D second d
E first e
D repeat first d

E second e
F first f
E repeat first e

F second f
A repeat first a
F repeat first f
A repeat second a

I usually write you guys a silly example right about here- but this form is too involved for that - I do have several serious terzanelles up in my stories, so if you want to see the form in action, check there.

Here is your good example:

Lewis Turco    Terzanelle in Thunderweather

This is the moment when shadows gather
under the elms, the cornices and eaves.
This is the center of thunderweather.

The birds are quiet among these white leaves
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily
under the elms, the cornices, and eaves--

these are our voices speaking guardedly
about the sky, of the sheets of lightning
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily

into our lungs, across our lips, tightening
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark
about the sky, of the sheets of lightening

that illuminate moments. In the stark
shades we inhibit, there are no words for
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark

of things we cannot say, cannot ignore.
This is the moment when shadows gather,
shades we inhibit. There are no words, for
this is the center of thunderweather.


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