Rubato – A Sestina and Poetry Challenge

The sestina is evil, having a complicated form based on sixes which is explained further below. I tried this out due to a personal challenge from Crabby, who I will make suffer in return!

So this weekends Poetry challenge is to write a sestina. Being really strict, you should have 10 syllables per line, or 7 syllables for each first line, and 10 for the others. But I didn’t because it made the whole thing sound like crap! So you don’t have to either.



So many times I have heard our name
Yet it has never lost its music.
Because of you I have not lived in vain.
What fails in my clumsy hands,
Worked with you grows completed.
You love where I only understand,

Yet you also understand
Things far beyond their name,
You show them and they are completed.
Without you life loses its music
And I have no work for these hands
Which move through the air in vain.

Each gesture I make feels vain.
Nobody can understand
What I attempt with my hands,
How I try to trace our name
But appear mad without the music
Of our dyadic heart completed.

My ornaments cannot be completed
Without your voice they are in vain,
Your melody entelechy to music,
A throated home I understand,
Every joy I could ever name.
My guitar a siren in my hands

As if I didn’t control these hands
And knew the song already completed,
As familiar all at once as our name,
That I might seek to speak in vain,
But pluck these strings and understand
In all its resonance and music.

This is why we lived a life of music,
Why you and I were born with hands
To hold each other and understand,
Until the day we are completed,
Knowing no moment was in vain
That held the sound of our name.

Music is our love and thus completed,
Hands will never touch the other in vain.
Understand this and you have our name.


The sestina has six stanzas of six lines, and a closing stansa of 3 lines. The last word from each line of stansa one is re-used in different places throughout the poem.

This is the pattern – (1 = last word from line one etc.)

1st stanza 1 2 3 4 5 6

2nd stanza 6 1 5 2 4 3

3rd stanza 3 6 4 1 2 5

4th stanza 5 3 2 6 1 4

5th stanza 4 5 1 3 6 2

6th stanza 2 4 6 5 3 1

envoi 2–5 4–3 6–1

So the last word of stansa one, line two is also the first word of the envoi, line one.
You can follow this in my above poem (hopefully!)


The world is insane and I'm in writing therapy!

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Posted in Poetry, Poetry Prompts
29 comments on “Rubato – A Sestina and Poetry Challenge
  1. I really like your sestina. Mine is driving me MAD.

  2. merbear74 says:

    Love it, but it gives me a headache. πŸ™‚

  3. goldfish says:

    It’s like a mega ultra complicated haiku on steroids. Nice job!

  4. Bruce Ruston says:

    nice use of the form, kind of gona not try it though πŸ˜€

  5. Teeny Bikini says:

    Dang. That would have take me 7 years! How long did it take you – I am just curious to know if you are some kind of machine….

  6. I managed one of these. Once. But there is apparently only one sestina in me. It’s here: I swear I’ll never do it again. And oh how I admire those who can do these–villanelles, too. Villanelles are villainous.

  7. Morbid Insanity says:

    I liked the lines, the stanzas… The whole sestina! I applaud your brain! πŸ™‚

  8. unfetteredbs says:

    you are toooo good for me Mr. Panda. Wow.. I loved
    ” But appear mad without the music
    Of our dyadic heart completed”

    very difficult challenge and well done!

  9. Great work, Panda πŸ™‚

  10. mobius faith says:

    Nicely done. You survived the challenge magnificently. You are much braver than me (I don’t respond to challenges at all – hehehe).

  11. Lovely panda; just lovely…but you can piss up a rope if you think I’m doing one…(oo er…where did that come from?) πŸ˜‰

  12. I can’t even attempt this.

  13. shafiqah1 says:

    Reblogged this on shafiqah1 and commented:
    Sestinas are deuced difficult, mine are always wordy, this is a beautiful layered and condensed piece #Greatjob

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