Poetic forms

We thought a reference page for certain poetic forms might be useful.

This list is not conclusive but each time we use a form or showcase a form we will add it here for future reference. Here's a little introduction from John Whitmarsh.

Regulations and Laws

Firm rules there are in poetry,
And these I number

One relates to rhyme and style,
While two tells of sweat and the poet's trial.
But three should be seen
As the writer's cant -
If you write it convincingly
You may write as you want!

If anyone would like to write any examples of these and send them in, we are happy to put them here to educate the masses!

Alphabetical......We will add the forms alphabetically.

So far we have:

Clerihew Lai Sedoka
Diebhidhe Limerick Sestina
Epigram Mondo Shadorma
Etheree Ode Sonnet
Ethnographic Haiku Palindrome Terzanelle 
Glosa Pantoum  Triolet
Haiku Paradelle Villainelle
Kyrielle Rubaiyat

A Clerihew by infannity

is a brief poem consisting of 2 pairs of rhyming lines which summarise the life & character of someone, humourously.


My dear old Dad was sailor Mick. 
He took both shorthand and the trick.

He had lots of wishes but few of the means, 
And now that he's gone he's left me those genes!


Diebhidhe (pronunced Jay-Vee) Darren Anderson (Origin: Ireland)

Each stanza is a quatrain of seven syllables. Light rhyming in couplets. Alliteration between two words in each line, the final word of line four allitterating with the preceding stressed word. There are at least two cross—rhymes between three and four.

NB: This is our first attempt..please feel free to point out anything which is untrue to the form.

The Seekers Of The Thatch Oliver Curran/Paula Brown

I hear your call; you want me to. 
From the past dressed so in blue, 
Delve deep where my heart do lie
Cry to—its core till I, too, cry.

United, led by my hand,
Your wish; return to homeland.
I painted your day and night;
Starving child cried through your plight. 

You'll return forfeiting pain,
Sunrise o'er purple domain; 
There you left on weary leg, 
Peace instead of need to beg.

Change for best; see as we go
Place deserted long ago
Back with ma and granda too 
Both their arms open for you.

Babe you left 'side of the field 
Waiting lone for love you wield.
You at rest; I paint the thatch, 
Fishing canvas for your catch. 

Epigram John J Whitmarsh

An epigram is a short, pithy poem that deals with a single subject, utilizing equal quantities of wit and wisdom to get the writer's point across in a (hopefully) memorable and entertaining manner. There are no rules for either length, a syllable count or a rhyming scheme within an epigram, yet there is a tendency amongst the most prolific writers of this form - Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker, to name but two - to prefer a 4-line stanza with either an a-a-b-b or, more often, the more flowing a-b-a-b scheme. The single guiding factor when writing an epigram is to keep it short and sweet!

One Word - an epigram John J Whitmarsh

One should address one's future
With more caution than one's past, 
For one day soon one's look ahead
Will be one's very last!

The Etheree infannity

Ethnographic Haiku Darren Anderson

This form consists of 7 stanzas each adhering to the 5/7/5 syllable count. Throughout the 7 stanzas, the writing must combine the relationship of a particular subject or community with their environment. The poem must include or evoke at least 3 of the 5 natural senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight). Each stanza is symbolic of one day, with the entire poem representing a full week in the life of your particular subject community.


7 Days with Old Man Outback Darren Anderson

Red sand flowing from
the heart of old man desert,
bleeding on cracked skin.

Prayers sent in the wind
for a cloudy acquaintance
to return to him.

Kangaroos scavenge
remnants of happier times
buried under dirt.

Dehydrated soil
in ridges of wrinkled palms
catch desperate tears.

Dry squeaking windmill
screams to a farmer's deaf ears
with curses of drought.

Polaroid pictures
taken to remind himself
of his existence.

Karmic equations
piercing a forgotten man
with UV daggers.

Glosa Darren Anderson
A Spanish form invented by court poets in the 14th and 15th centuries. An opening quatrain, called a 'cabeza' is chosen from another poet. The glosa elaborates or 'glosses' on the quatrain with four ten line stanzas, their concluding lines taken consecutively from the quatrain and their sixth and ninth lines rhyming with the borrowed tenth.

Irish Pride and Prejudice Glosa verse by Darren Anderson

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

W.H. Auden
In memory of W.B. Yeats

A putrid scene of civil conflict 
returns without regret, 
festering in dead hearts, 
lacking the fortitude to forgive.
Waiting, we long for a successor
to match Yeats' intuitive art.
A Celtic hero able
to play with hostile minds
and brave the poisoned part
in the deserts of the heart.

His whirling intellect sliced
through disaster and distress.
Fervor enough to bend reality,
and imagination to create it.
Yet, now he lives within his page
Unable to take part
in the drama unfolding
on that great Irish stage.
We need an actor with his heart.
Let the healing fountain start.

Sectarian riots grow
a blistering boil of religious identity.
Deep scars riddle
faces of Catholic and Protestant alike.
“Unity of Being”, an Irish serenity,
forgotten nationalist ways
buried by bludgeoning stones,
thrown by the hands of hatred.
A feat that would not amaze,
In the prison of his days.

The tall, young man
with lanky cloak and hat,
no longer strolls the streets of Dublin.
His stunning tone no longer heard,
only imagined by the reader.
Ireland must revive his ways,
for brutality never pays.
Let Oisin and Patrick speak his words,
inspire beyond the grave
teach the free man how to praise.

Haiku Paula Brown

Haiku has origins in collaborative poetry, where the opening verse was the Haiku. 
It is traditionally seventeen syllables, set out in three lines of 5—7—5 syllables. 
Strictly, Haiku should include a seasonal theme and encapsulate a moment in nature. Modern Haiku has sometimes been written as two or four lines, but the spirit of the verse is most important. 
Traditionally, this form of verse is used for learning and teaching, especially in Zen Buddhism. 

Here is an example of mine - which is not strictly Haiku as it follows on in a sentence and Haiku should not.

autumn's mellow light:
a leaf cracks and waltzes down,
worshipping the ground.

Kyrielles (Origin: France) Darren Anderson

It is a form from the Middle Ages. It is a form written in quatrains (four line verses) and each quatrain contains a repeated line or phrase as a refrain. As is common in much French poetry, it has a meter, and this is usually composed of eight syllables per line. There is no limit to the number of stanzas that you use, but three is the generally accepted minimum. The rhyme scheme for a Kyrielle is a/a/b/B, c/c/b/B, d/d/b/B, with B being the repeated line. However, this can be varied according to preference, so you could have a/b/a/B, c/b/c/B, d/b/d/B, etc.

A Lenten Hymn Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

With Broken heart and contrite sigh
A Trembling sinner, Lord, I cry:
Thy pard'ning grace is rich and free:
O God, be merciful to me.

I smite upon my troubled breast, 
With deep and conscious guilt opprest,
Christ and His cross my only plea:
O God, be merciful to me.

Far off I stand with tearfull eyes,
Nor dare uplift them to the skies;
But Thou dost all my anguish see:
O God, be merciful to me.

Nor alms, nor deeds that I have done'
Can for a single sin atone;
To Calvary alone I flee:
O God, be merciful to me.

And when, redeemed from sin and hell,
With all the ransomed throng I dwell,
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.

- NB: I don't know of any copyright law over a writer who died in 1620..but if you feel that I have infringed some kind of copyright, please contact me explaining why and I will remove the work immediately. This work will not be reproduced anywhere else or in any other context than on this page for the reference of writers and readers across the World.

The Lai John Whitmarsh

NOTE: This poetical form should not be confused with the LAY.
The LAI consists of units of three lines, the first two of which contain five syllables each and rhyme both with each other and with similarly placed lines in the following unit. The third line should contain two syllables and rhyme ONLY with the short line in the following unit. Stanzas can be of any length desired (this example shows a two—unit, six line stanza), provided that each unit within the stanza follows the rhyming scheme set out above.

Comparisons - a Lai in a single stanza by John Whitmarsh

Look upon the sky
Where light spirits fly; 
Or here: 
Where miseries lie
And darken the eye
Once clear. 

The Limerick Paula Brown

A Limerick is a rhymed humorous, nonsense poem of five lines.
Rhyming scheme of: a-a-b-b-a and then the syllable structure is: 9-9-6-6-9 This is the most commonly heard first line of a limerick: “There once was a man from Nantucket”

Here's one of mine....

There was a young woman from Dorset
Who trialled a new kind of corset. 
When she heard a loud POP
And she felt herself flop
She decided not to endorse it.

The Mondo by Andrew Hide

is a very old Japanese poetic form, it's made up of two Katauta. The katauta was the standard verse used in early Japanese poetry which consist of (5-7-7) onji. (an onji is one unit of sound, simular to the western sylible, but more complete in its meaning.)

The first katauta would be phrased as a question,

For six days I searched 
hilltop to the valley floor, 
where is your mountain retreat? 

with the second delivering an answer to the first, but with a deeper meaning than might first appear. This would give the reader something to contemplate.

For five nights you slept 
in the comfort of its walls, 
yet still woke empty handed.

These where often written by two different authors and probably used as a way of instruction. Another variant on the Mondo was the Sedoka.

Marriage Mondo

Your morning face, dear,
fills my heart with tenderness -
for how long have we been one?

In my memory
many years have just slipped by -
for a moment, forever!


The Ode Andrew Shiston

The definition appears to be a bit pragmatic. The Ode An ode is a poem that is written for an occasion or on a particular subject. they are usually dignified and more serious as a form than other forms of poetry. Unfortunately, today's society has distinctly less respect for propriety, morality, and dignity. Modern odes include sarcastic poems about various subjects, including velcro and vegetables. There are several versions and differing opinions on what the rhyme form for an ode should be. In the light of these disputes, Tangerine! Is of the opinion that we believe them to be simply a poem that contains some form of rhyming pattern which is about a certain subject and contains the word "ode" in the title. Some restrictions are sure to apply.

An example of an ode could be: 

By Andrew Shiston

Ode To A Ship

Not standing straight; leaning
Sideways slightly forward
Feeling light, rushing upwards
As the weight comes down
Rumbling vibrating sound
Water rushing all around
Metal straining, rivets popping
Flakes of rust drifting; 
Pipe work dripping dampness
As though underground
Portholes; aquariums of water
Then daylight and the sun; 
This monolith steel needle
Throbbing, driving, diving
Up then down, sideways through
A haystack of Wet Ocean
Coming from, then to. 

The Palindrome
 Paula Brown

The palindrome simply reads the same forwards and backwards...usually with a central focal point from where it begins to read backwards.


Love/Hate Relationship Paula Brown

Mimics hate:
Passionate always, forging forward.
Unquiet rage screams
Tangled mercilessly;
Mercilessly tangled.
Screams rage, unquiet.
Forward forging, always passionate:
Hate mimics

The Pantoum infannity

Smug Juggling

a pantoum* for Mrs. MacSween

I rest my case
upon the quay
yearning for a cigarette
for my friends’ retreat.

Opening a key
certainly connects
my friends’ retreat
with the narcs’ advance.

Certainly connects
that asinine freight
with the narcs’ advance
these bars’ security.

That asinine freight 
corralled now on the dock
these bars’ security
enclosing lawyer-speak.

Corralled now in the dock
yearning for a cigarette
the closing lawyer speaks:
‘I rest my case.’

1 2 3 4 - Lines in first quatrain.
2 5 4 6 - Lines in second quatrain.
5 7 6 8 - Lines in third quatrain.
7 9 8 10 - Lines in fourth quatrain.
9 3 10 1 - Lines in fifth and final quatrain.

A Paradelle definition coming soon from David Savoury


Completely Gutted! by David Savoury

King Herod kept a mistress,
King Herod kept a mistress. 
His wife was completely gutted!
His wife was completely gutted!
A mistress kept King Herod. 
Was his wife completely gutted?

She kept to her own counsel.
She kept to her own counsel
but dwelt upon his crime, 
but dwelt upon his crime. 
She kept her own counsel
but dwelt upon his crime.To own

such sin, the girl declined.
Such sin the girl declined:
she fell into a stupor,
she fell into a stupor.
The girl she declined into
such sin, a stupor fell.

King Herod, his mistress, fell
into such a stupor. His sin 
was upon his wife. She dwelt:
crime kept her counsel fell.
But the wife declined to own
she completely gutted the girl.

and another


a paradelle dedicated to Savoury Dave, who took the time to explain to me.

Many paths to enlightenment.
Many paths to enlightenment
present themselves for my choice,
present themselves for my choice.
Paths to present enlightenment,
many my choice, for themselves.

A regulated, demarcated stretch.
A regulated, demarcated stretch
of clear, straight avenues,
of clear, straight avenues.
Avenues demarcated, regulated,
clear of a straight stretch.

That way coils through dark canyons.
That way coils through dark canyons,
tangles up the jungled mountain,
tangles up the jungled mountain,
coils way up the jungled canyons,
tangles through that dark mountain.

Clear of mountain paths,
many stretch up for dark avenues,
that present straight coils to the regulated -
demarcated canyons themselves.
My choice tangles,
a jungled way through enlightenment.


The Rubaiyat by John Whitmarsh

Note: the rubai is a quatrain, rhymed a-a-b-a.
A series of rubais (whether connected or not) is known as a rubaiyat... 
The most famous work of this type is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 
translated by Edward Fitzgerald..


The Emperor's Rubaiyat by John Whitmarsh

He possesses it all, the emperor with his lands;
The air, the trees, the rivers and the wind—carved sands;
He is master of slaves and caliph over all;
But his frail destiny will never be in his hands.

When darkened clouds begin to fill his sky
And omens of dark deeds on feathered wings go by, 
When portents, heavy with the smell of fear, 
Are seen, then his lexicon shall only spell out 'die.'

He appreciates all this, the emperor of renown, 
As he mounts each morning his gold and silken throne; 
Yet with the knowledge that he is as mortal as a sparrow
He rules his kingdom well until his life has flown.

The Sedoka kindly provided by Andrew Hide

Another variant on the Mondo was the Sedoka, this carried the same format, (two Katauta) but would be written by a single author and did not present the question and answer. This gave the poet more room for the subject/image. The poet will often use the second katauta to give a differnt perspective to the same image as the first, this is believed to give the poem a stronger body. This in time developed into the tanka still common today.

Morning Sedoka

Blackthorn cloaked in frost, 
undresses in the morning, 
as the sun peeps through the trees.

Drips fall from long thorns, 
patting on the fallen leaves, 
an omen of Spring showers.

Andrew Hide

Fresh Snow Sedoka

Fresh snow on the road, 
once more I will walk the path 
for the first time, yet again. 

Maybe tomorrow 
I will tread on today's path, 
or place fresh footsteps in snow.

Andrew Hide

The Sestina Paula Brown

The Sestina is a French form, divided into 6 sestets (six line stanzas) and 1 triplet. The concluding triplet is usually unrhymed and works by repeating the end words of each line. The triplet envoi contains, in any order, all of the six end-words. The catch is that one has to be buried in each line and another must be at the end of the line. The pattern for repeating the words is like this: (stanza A) 123456, (stanza B) 615243. This 615243 pattern is how each of the next stanzas are made.

Marla's yard A Sestina by Darren Anderson

A sparrow whistles in a pleasing tone. 
A sea of grass waves below her. 
In the middle, an island of the whitest rose. 
Marla finds herself taken in 
by warm Autumn air, 
enveloped by nature's trance. 

Ivy covers the white picket entrance. 
Hungry bees emit their buzzing tone, 
as she eases her frame into a patio chair. 
A place where no one will bother her. 
A place where no one is allowed within. 
A place to appreciate a rose. 

She used to call her China rose 
until mother gave in to death's trance. 
Yet, even this could not break her grin. 
A distant tug sounds like a baritone. 
A memory of her returning father 
from that salty Atlantic air. 

A sweet smell fills the air, 
an intoxicating fragrance of rose. 
The sky is saturated in a deep blue tone, 
as she sips on iced gin, 
falling into alcohol's trance. 
A habit borrowed from her mother. 

Alcoholic adhesive held her togther, 
protection from death's trance. 
Father's booming tone, 
powerful enough to wilt a rose, 

tearing of mother's hair, 
A darkness he held within. 

Yet, she will hold it deep within, 
becoming more of a thorn than a rose. 
Consumed by gin's trance, 
she strokes her hair 
and yearns of being together 
to hear mother's gentle tone. 

Charcoal clouds grow above her 
as the gin soaks in. 
Alcohol has shattered nature's trance.

Shadorma by Darren Anderson (Origin: Spain)

A form of six unrhymed lines. 
It is a syllabic poem, so there is a strict number of syllables per line.
You can have however many verses as you like.

The line/syllable pattern is as follows:

Line 1: 3 syllables
Line 2: 5 syllables
Line 3: 3 syllables
Line 4: 3 syllables
Line 5: 7 syllables
Line 6: 5 syllables

English Spring (shadorma) David Taylor

Six o'clock;
prise open my eyes.
Random thoughts,
scraps of dreams
— scrambling up a steep cliff face
in an echoing hall

Slowly rise,
Open the window,
breathe fresh air.
What's this sight?
Golden sunlight, pure green fields
vision of heaven.

Pull on clothes,
snatch a banana,
yank on boots,
grab a stick,
fling open door on heaven,
stride into the fields.

Chilly wind;
I don't have a hat.
Clouds appear,
raindrops fall.
I'm two miles from home and warmth,
my boots are leaking.

Stagger back;
boots clogged with thick mud
Wife appears
at the door
“Why go out without warm clothes?”
“— Vision of heaven,

My darling”

NOTE! there was a mistake on the Shakesperian Sonnet syllables. It is, of course, ten syllables per line and not 14. With thanks to Linda Winward for spotting it. It is also important to note that sonnets are usually based around iambic pentameter (du-DUH du-DUH, du-DUH..) and so strictly, the syllables should be in 5 pairs but poets have always adhered very loosely to this rule and you will find sonnets are usually 9 to twelve syllables per line (and each is not necessarily the same throughout the sonnet) with a backbone of iambic pentameter and some individual variation. It can become very dull to read without some individual flair, unless the poet enjoys strict form and is highly skilled at making it scan well. Paula.

Sonnets - a brief outline

A Petrachan (or Italian) sonnet is made up of 14 lines, split into two sections. The first 8 lines are called the octave and introduce the main themes and ideas. The last 6 lines are called the sestet and draw a conclusion to the idea by answering the question asked in the octave, or by clarifying the idea. There are 11 syllables to each line of a Petrachan sonnet, and each alternate syllable is usually stressed. The rhyme scheme is ABBA ABBA, and then either CDECDE or CDCDCD. It is called Petrachan sonnet after the first poet to write this type of sonnet - Francesco Petrach (1304 -1374).

Shakespearean sonnets are also made up of 14 lines, but these have 10 syllables per line. The sonnet is divided into 3 quatrains (groups of 4 lines) each of which puts forward a different argument or idea, and it concludes with a rhyming couplet. The rhyme scheme for a Shakesperean sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. William Shakespeare (1564 -1616) was the first known poet to write this type of sonnet and therefore it was named after him. 

Both Petrachan and Shakesperean sonnets deal solely with the subject of love. Later however, John Donne (1573 -1631) introduced religion as a topic for sonnets, and poets such as Spenser experimented with the artform, and made valuable contributions of their own. 

Gill Whitmarsh.

Sonnet #1 Karl Thompson

The humble rose, in all truth, is a thief.
For the essence of him, belongs to thee.
And all his art, to him, do you bequeath,
Or else, perforce, your beauty taketh he.
Yet could it be I, after tasting you
With my powers of sight, that lends to him-
(And all things else that I see or I do)
True beauty? As I stand there quivering,
Gazing upon the sweet rose that is real 
My minds eye aghast with the sight of you,
And my heart overflows as I do feel
The rose could cast no shadow in your light.
For, where he fades, where he withers and dies,
On shine you, beauty and light in your eyes. 

Ticket to Hide Sonnet by Stephen Laskey

When the buses of May are a long time 
Coming and the whitened ground of winter 
Ekes out its ticket, urban singles climb 
Out of bed like roughed up snails. A splinter 
Group surely exits the Land of Nod full 
Of the joys, but the great majority 
Of us wake to rote suffering and pull 
The blankets back over our heads. City 
Dwellers have always ached or sheltered best 
When snatching a few minutes extra kip 
On dark, frosty mornings. Remove the zest 
Of kids and the snooze button cracks the whip. 
Dozing alone in the cold, all but numb, 
We forget that someday our bus will come.

The Terzanelle infannity

L’ultima danzetta
a Terzanelle

all magic, all dreams are lost
feel no more a part of earth
spinning out towards the stars
all shared pursuits are lost 
gone all memory, gone all heart
feel no more a part of earth
all true embraces lost
dancing lone to silent beat
gone all memory, gone all heart
all whispered cares are lost
gone all rhythm, gone all time
dancing lone to silent beat
all beliefs, all ideas are lost
until there starts another life
gone all rhythm, gone all time
until there starts another life
all magic, all dreams are lost
until there starts another life
spinning out towards the stars

Interests in writing a Terzanelle* and the line in Jackson Browne’s song, The Dancer, “in the end there is one dance we’ll do alone” have both been bubbling under since my fathers deaths in 2001 and 2002. Then my mother died.

for my family: for those who left, and for those who are left.


all magic, all love is left
no longer planted, of this Earth
spinning back toward our stars

all shared pursuits are left 
left all memory, left all heart
no longer planted, of this Earth

all true success is left
dance alone to the silent beat
left all memory, left all heart

all whimpered cares are left
left all rhythm, left all time
dance alone to the silent beat

all beliefs, all dreams are left
perhaps to bloom again, in life
left all rhythm, left all time

perhaps to bloom again, in life
all magic, all love is left
perhaps to bloom again, in life
spinning back toward our stars

* The Terzanelle (pronounced tur-zuh-nell) is a combination of the French forms Terza Rima and Villainelle, where the second line of a stanza is repeated as the third line of the following stanza. Its characteristics include repeating triplets, rather than quattrains, in the body, with a concluding quattrain and alternate endings.

Stanza Type : 5 Triplets and a concluding Quatrain
Syllables : Varies
Accent : Varies
Rhyme : Optional

stanza 1: A B A'

stanza 2: b C B

stanza 3: c D C

stanza 4: d E D

stanza 5: e F E

Ending Type 1:
F A F A'

Ending Type 2:
F F A A’

The Triolet by Darren Anderson
A French form of eight lines in a single stanza. The first line is repeated as the fourth line and the first two lines are repeated as the last two lines.

Médecine du coeur - Medicine of the Heart.
A Triolet by Darren Anderson

Rosemount Shiraz,
red wine flowing through me,
caressing every sense.
Rosemount Shiraz
mimicking your touch,
your kiss like
Rosemount Shiraz,
red wine flowing through me.

Kiss Chase Triolets by Stephen Laskey

Poets and philosophers say the private 
Wilderness best during the early years, 
After which better making compromise. 
Poets and philosophers say the private 
Compromise tames the soul much as a 
Bureau de change keeps its clocks right. 
Poets and philosophers say the private 
Wilderness best during the early years. 

All the nice girls 
Love a sailor, are we ashored. 
All at sea are the boys. 
All the nice girls 
Are damsels, but the boys 
Keep the distress to themselves. 
All the nice girls 
Love a sailor, are we ashored. 

Not even children mock cupboards 
Where skeletons dreamt of being kept 
On a Marks & Spencers coat-hanger. 
Not even children mock cupboards 
Full of haphazardly piled family junk 
Dotted with the odd strange memento. 
Not even children mock cupboards 
Where skeletons dreamt of being kept. 

The Villanelle by Peter Nightingale June 2002

The Villanelle - as its name implies from its soft and plangent tones - has been borrowed from the French (bless); in corrupted translation “a little villain”. Correctly so - a little villain to compose.

It is often used as a lament.

Perhaps the most famous - most certainly the most well-known - Villanelle in English is “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, Dylan Thomas's paean for his dying father. A poem destined not only for the Welsh orator - its echoes long-reverberating in the chapel rafters - but for the litanies recited in the great halls of history.

As you may imagine, 'Do Not Go Gentle..' is worth the reading. And the hearing.

The 'rules' of a Villanelle are as follows:

It shall be of 19 lines - 5 stanzas of 3 lines, the 6th. and final stanza to be 4 lines. Each line shall be of ten syllables. The rhyme scheme shall be ABA for the first 5 stanzas - (that is: ABA, as rhymes, are to be repeated in each of the five stanzas) with ABAA (the same rhymes) for the 6th.

To compound this stricture, certain lines are to be repeated, word for word:

Line 1 shall recur in lines 6, 12 and 18.
Line 3 shall recur in lines 9, 15 and 19.

It is not an easy scheme to master, for the whole entity needs flow for the reader (your ultimate client!). This is the stuff of creaking garretts, long nights and burning candles!

In this age of 'free', often unrhyming verse, the Villanelle may, perhaps, be considered archaic. An anachronism. Yet, 90 years on, few consider the work of the 'War Poets' to be archaic. In contrast, Dylan Thomas was writing 50 years ago - a mere intake of breath in the history of English poetry, whether printed, hand-written or rote-recited.

Come With Me To This Island in the Sea - a Villanelle by Andrew Shiston

Come with me to this island in the sea
Tears of stone shed by ancient mountains bones
The curving shore for all good men to see

From storming seas and flooding rip tides free
This island of white stone, only Neptune owns
Come with me to this island in the sea

Stand-alone on these stark broken cliffs, that be
From pounding of the sea, the broken stones
The curving shore for all good men to see

Portland's sheltered stony bay, that's in the lee
The island and her Pulpit Rock that groans
Come with me to this island in the sea

Steer your ship toward the Bills lightning tree
Sail safe to the bay, from the wind that roams
The curving shore for all good men to see

Come all Gods seamen, pray, come walk with me
Find peace away from King Neptune's unholy moans
Come with me to this island in the sea
The curving shore for all good men to see.