Meet the Terza Rima
The Terza Rima is a type of verse stanza invented by Italian poet Dante Alghieri and is used in his epic masterwork, The Divine Comedy. Terza rima poems are always written in tercets with an interlinking rhyme scheme unique to the form. In English, the terza rima may be incorporated into other well-known forms, such as the sonnet (see example below).
Key Features of The Terza Rima
Form: Written in any number of tercets, but you’ll probably want at least three to establish the rhyme scheme.
Rhyme: Features a terza rima rhyme scheme (sometimes called a chain rhyme) of aba-bcb-cdc, etc.
Below is an example of a terza rima sonnet
Ode to the West Wind
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1795-1825)
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-striken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!
An Original Terza Rima Poem
A Galaxy Newly Born
Nascent love is like a galaxy newly born,
Its elements simple and lighter than air.
But in darkness, its stars yet unformed.
From its center it is an experience as rare,
As clear as desire unclouded by dust,
But from a distance—a dim blue glare.
Heavier elements—security and trust—
Require a ritual, a sacrifice of stars.
Much later will come the planet’s crust.
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