World Poetry Month: The Sestina by Sam DeLoach
April is World Poetry Month, so to honor the poets out there Our Write Side is doing a special Saturday post that contains a lesson about a form of poetry and includes a poem written by the teacher as a sample. Today, we are very honored to have esteemed poet, Sam DeLoach, teach us about the Sestina.
What is a sestina?
The sestina is a rather complex form of poetry that has six stanzas; with each stanza having six lines. There is also a seventh stanza, which is known as an envoy, or tornado. In the sestina the end (last) word of each line of first stanza is repeated as the end word of each succeeding stanza, but not in the same order as last word of each preceding stanza. The sestina doesn’t use end word rhyme as a literary tool, but its structured form, with the repetition of end words, gives the sestina a rhythmic feel akin to rhyme. The seventh stanza (the envoy) has only three lines; with each line containing two end words of the six preceding stanzas, which serves to emphasize the message (meaning, idea) conveyed in the poem. Because of the repetition of end words, the sestina can be very impactful, as well as a joy to read. The pattern I used was: abcdef, faebdc, cfdabe, ecbfad, deacfb, bdfeca in the six, six line stanzas. In the envoy’s three lines you can choose which two end words are used in each line of the preceding stanzas, but you must use all six end words by placing two per line.
Why Our Dream Lies Buried
I was forced to bury you way down deep
Beneath these mounds of dry desert dirt.
It was you, who, with each ensuing breath,
Exhaled these choking, sterile sands
Into my once fecund, viridescent world.
Art, slain, lies atop the altar of practicality.
You were the utter preacher of practicality.
Still, for your smile, love’s swift rapier cut me deep
Even as you eviscerated any love for my world.
You wished to place my palette beneath the dirt,
That we, together, would stand on these sands,
For you knew passions die when bereft of breath.
I learned pragmatism can snuff creativity’s breath,
As I listened to your incessant sermons on practicality,
Therefore, I soon came to abhor these horrific sands.
In life, turbulent waters very rarely run deep,
Thus, at times, I wished it was I beneath the tawny, dry dirt
Now carpeting this dreamer’s once verdant world.
That you saw no value in anyone else’s world
Slammed me so hard I completely lost my breath.
Therefore, as I stood assessing our realm of dead dirt,
Which was but a byproduct of strident practicality,
I realized it was I, alone, sinking quick and deep.
I then resolved to bury you beneath your own sands.
Footing that’s sound is rarely found in shifting sand;
No matter the person, or their place or this world.
If one stays too long the sand will suck them in deep,
Even as sand’s hand extinguishes the final breath.
But you couldn’t see beyond the realm of practicality,
Now all our dreams of us are dust scattered in the dirt.
I used to tell you that we are all really nothing but fertile dirt,
As you stood firmly, somehow, atop your heap of dry desert sand,
While saying all else couldn’t or wouldn’t conform to practicality.
In silent, pensive sorrow I stood surveying our parched world,
Void of the wonderment of imagination’s recurring breath,
Knowing I must abandon us before I was pulled in too deep.
Thus I left you, out of breath, sobbing softly beneath the sand,
For I couldn’t live where practicality, alone, ruled my world.
I hope you understand the dirt and why I buried you so deep.
Copyright © 2015
You are hereby challenged to write your own Sestina in the comments below. Your poem could be published in our April 10 newsletter!