"Jacob and Rachel" by NatoireHow to Write a Triolet (with Examples) The Society November 29, 2016 For Educators, Poetry, Poetry Forms, Triolet 6 Comments By Carol Smallwood The triolet is a medieval French poetry form that has eight lines and was introduced to the English language by poets in the 17th century: 1. A 2. B 3. a Rhymes with 1st line. 4. A identical to 1st line. 5. a Rhymes with 1st line. 6. b Rhymes with 2nd line. 7. A Identical to 1st line. 8. B Identical to 2nd line. Note that the lst, 4th, and 7th lines are identical. The 2nd and 8th lines are identical. Lines 3, 5, 6 are single, different. The rhyme scheme, ABaAabAB, can be in iambic tetrameter such as this spiritual triolet: Triolet III By Patrick Carey (1624-1657) Yes, my dear Lord, I’ve found it so; No joys but thine are purely sweet; Other delights come mixt with woe, Yes, my dear Lord, I’ve found it so. Pleasure at courts is but in show, With true content in cells we meet; Yes, my dear Lord, I’ve found it so; No joys but thine are purely sweet. Other types of meter may also work, as seen in this translated classic French triolet: Rondel (Triolet) By Jean Froissart (1337-1404) Love, love, what wilt thou with this heart of mine? Naught see I fixed or sure in thee! I do not know thee,–nor what deeds are thine: Love, love, what will though with this heart of mine? Shall I be mute, or vows with prayers combine? Ye who are blessed in loving, tell it me: Love, love, what wilt thou with this heart of mine? Naught see I permanent or sure in thee! As you can hear, although a triolet is eight lines, it is essentially an amplified couplet (two lines of poetry). This is because the first two lines are repeated at the end of the eight-line poem, their two rhyme-sounds carry the entire poem, and there is an additional repetition of the first line in the middle of the poem (fourth line). Thus, an echoing, chant-like resonance flourishes a single couplet of poetry. If you have an excellent couplet but feel there is more to it, and yet nothing more to it than just two lines, then consider this form. Here’s a triolet I wrote: Ephemera Mayflies bear a Greek name meaning living a day, An allusion to their dance before they die After maturing in the month of May. Mayflies bear a Greek name meaning living a day And start as water nymphs that grow to fly Only to die after mating—a last hooray. Mayflies bear a Greek name meaning living a day, An allusion to their dance before they die. Here is another triolet I wrote that’s multiple:: Chance Chance passed my window in June of milkweed puff design: it hovered, fell as in a swoon. Chance passed my window in June unexpected as a forgotten tune to disappear in a straight line. Chance passed my window in June of milkweed puff design. I did not wait to see it land or if wind carried it away— it could’ve gotten stuck in sand. I did not wait to see it land where it took its last stand better it remain a slight of hand. I did not wait to see it land or if wind carried it away. Later in the day I tried to see to chase away a coward’s fear: to stare and then to leer. Later in the day I tried to see fighting the desire to flee— to look and leave a sneer. Later in the day I tried to see to chase away a coward’s fear. Post your triolets in the comment section below! Carol Smallwood’s over four dozen books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, which is on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers. Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences is a 2014 collection from Lamar University Press; Divining the Prime Meridian, is a 2015 collection from WordTech Editions. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. 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CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 6 Responses Dusty Grein November 29, 2016 Thank you for a great introduction to the triolet, Carol. This is one of my favorite octet forms, and I often write them linked into a corona, such as the following unicorn sighting in iambic pentameter: A Dream Within a Dream ———————————— As clouds break over fallen temple walls, pale moonlight steps among the misty moors. Soft gentle breezes scream a silent call as clouds break over fallen temple walls; the magic realms of old open their halls, sweet mystery, like nectar slowly pours. As clouds break over fallen temple walls, pale moonlight steps among the misty moors. Pale moonlight steps among the misty moors. White hooves softly approach the silent lake, ephemeral, translucence on the shore. Pale moonlight steps among the misty moors; a dream within a dream from days of yore which human hearts would never dare to wake. Pale moonlight steps among the misty moors; white hooves softly approach the silent lake. White hooves softly approach the silent lake as clouds break over fallen temple walls. A flash of horn revealed by gentle shake, white hooves softly approach the silent lake. Dark Nox herself, this spell is loathe to break, for wondrousness, beside this vision palls; white hooves softly approach the silent lake as clouds break over fallen temple walls. –dustygrein Reply G. M. H. Thompson November 30, 2016 The Triolet This form of verse is elegant because it sounds Shakespearean; it’d make a rag intelligent because it is so elegant, and though these lines won’t sell a cent (they sound far too Assyrian), this form of verse is elegant because it sounds Shakespearean. Reply James Sale December 6, 2016 Great piece Carol – really enjoyable read – and you do have some great skill in creating this difficult form – very impressive! Reply Esther Bunny Brown January 20, 2019 Apparently, Brazilian poet Filinto de Almeida introduced a verse form, that he called a biolet. “The biolet is a derivative and somewhat abbreviated verse form of the triolet, being only six lines in length rather than eight. The first line repeats in its entirety to become the sixth line. The second line repeats itself as the fifth line. The third line is not a repeating line, but rhymes with the second and fifth lines. Likewise, the fourth line is not a repeating line, but rhymes with the first and sixth lines. This can be summarized as ABbaBA.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biolet Reply Margaret Coats May 5, 2020 Much appreciate this instructional collection of triolets, including those by Dusty Grein and G. M. H. Thompson, and the note about the biolet from Esther Bunny Brown. Still, let’s give credit to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the great American author who wrote “Love, love, what wilt thou.” It is not Carol’s fault for slighting his authorship, because many websites and even some printed books gag and drown the authors of English renderings of poems in foreign languages. But the triolet above is definitely Longfellow’s poem, though Longfellow properly describes it as a rondel from Froissart. Froissart, however, never mentions his heart, but just asks what Love wants to do with him. French readers don’t focus on the heart in the refrain, because the word never occurs in Froissart’s poem. And in line 5, Froissart gives three clear choices (pray, speak, or be silent) while Longfellow only has two. Most important, Froissart’s poem may not be a triolet. It could be a rondelet with no eighth line. Anyone who wants to see how it looked in manuscript can check out the 1870 edition of Froissart’s Oeuvres Poesies by Auguste Scheler, where the poem is found in Volume II, page 410. Longfellow may have made the choice that his would be an eight-line poem, or he may have followed some other French editor who made that choice for him. The point is, the poem as we see it in English is one where the artistic decisions were made by Longfellow. Reply Margaret Gosley May 8, 2020 My first try at a triolet : Dandelion Time The dandelion waits to tell the time Locked down we wait for time to go by In separate houses yours and mine The dandelion waits to tell the time Whilst we wait for others to define Our movements, our thoughts freely fly The dandelion waits to tell the time Whilst we wait for time to go by Reply Leave a Reply to Esther Bunny Brown Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.