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Terza Rima

  "Tercets often occur in iambic pentameter, for example
as part of the sestet (the last six lines) or a Petrarchan
sonnet (where the pattern depends on the rhyme scheme
of the whole sestet), or as the stanza form for the body
of a villanelle (where they will rhyme aba).  Most
importantly, linked tercets rhyming aba bcb cdc are
terza rima, and were used by Dante for The Divine
.  (In Italian the metre is not iambic pentameter,
but in English tends to be.)  The rippling effect of terza
is stronger than that of open couplets, and
persists even when rhyme is replaced by a pattern of
stressed and unstressed hyperbeats (as in part II of
Elliot's Little Gidding, Il. 80-150:O2.2006-8/Nlxxii)."

(The Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, Oxford University
Press, New York NY.)

"The tercet is a stanza of three lines usually linked with
a single rhyme, althought Williams' "Poem" is unrhymed.
...An important variant of this form is the linked tercet,
or terza rima, in which the second line of each stanza
rhymes with the first and the third lines of the next. A
group of such stanzas is commonly concluded with a
final line supplying the missing rhyme, as in Wilbur's
"First Snow in Alsace".  "No verse form in English
poetry is more closely idenfied with its inventor than"
is terza rima with Dante, who used it for his Divine

(The Norton Anthology of Poetry, fourth edition, Ferguson,
Salter and Stallworthy, W.W.Norton & Company, New York )

Excerpt from:
by Richard Wilbur

The snow came down last night like moths
Burned on the moon; it fell till dawn,
Covered the town with simple cloths.

Absolute snow lies rumpled on
What shellbursts scattered and deranged,
Entangled railings, crevassed lawn.

As if it did not know they'd changed,
Snow smoothly clasps the roofs of homes
Fear-gutted, trustless and estranged.


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