Sestina Notes

A great poem by one of my favorite poets.

About the Jez of It

Considered a difficult form to master, the Sestina was created by Arnaut Daniel, a mathematician and poet in the twelfth century. It was later adopted by Francesco Petrarch who composed a series of sestinas he called Canzone.

The sestina is composed of seven stanzas. The first six stanzas each have six lines, with end word of each line falling in a precise mathematical progression. The seventh has only three lines which are a mathematical reflection of the first stanza.

The first stanza defines the following stanzas by setting the words used at the end of each line, ABDCEF are he defining words. They are repeated in the following five stanzas in the following pattern

ABCDEF
FAEBDC
CFDABE
ECBFAD
DEACFB
BDFECA

The final stanza or envoy uses the same six word but only in three lines with the even numbered words descending internally and the odd numbered words ascending on the…

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