All right, let's roll up our sleeves and give this poetic form a try! If you can count to six, you can do it.
A Sestina is a poem consisting of:
The words ending the lines of the first stanza are repeated in a
different order at the end of lines in each of the subsequent five
stanzas and, two to a line, in the middle and at the end of the three
lines in the closing envoy.
The patterns of word-repetitions are as follows:
(each row in the following diagram represents one stanza, and the numbers represent the last words in each line of the first stanza)
1 2 3 4 5 6
6 1 5 2 4 3
3 6 4 1 2 5
5 3 2 6 1 4
4 5 1 3 6 2
2 4 6 5 3 1
applies to the
word of the line, so you would kind of turn this diagram on it's
sides to see how it lines up, for example:
An example here is Algernon Charles Swinburne's "Sestina."
A twelve-verse rendition is called a double-sestina. There is no
defined length or meter to the lines, and a sestina does not have
to rhyme, though this example does.
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
1 I saw my soul at rest upon a day
2 As a bird sleeping in the nest of night,
3 Among soft leaves that give the starlight way
4 To touch its wings but not its eyes with light;
5 So that it knew as one in visions may,
6 And knew not as men waking, of delight.
7 This was the measure of my soul's delight;
8 It had no power of joy to fly by day,
9 Nor part in the large lordship of the light;
10 But in a secret moon-beholden way
11 Had all its will of dreams and pleasant night,
12 And all the love and life that sleepers may.
13 But such life's triumph as men waking may
14 It might not have to feed its faint delight
15 Between the stars by night and sun by day,
16 Shut up with green leaves and a little light;
17 Because its way was as a lost star's way,
18 A world's not wholly known of day or night.
19 All loves and dreams and sounds and gleams of night
20 Made it all music that such minstrels may,
21 And all they had they gave it of delight;
22 But in the full face of the fire of day
23 What place shall be for any starry light,
24 What part of heaven in all the wide sun's way?
25 Yet the soul woke not, sleeping by the way,
26 Watched as a nursling of the large-eyed night,
27 And sought no strength nor knowledge of the day,
28 Nor closer touch conclusive of delight,
29 Nor mightier joy nor truer than dreamers may,
30 Nor more of song than they, nor more of light.
31 For who sleeps once and sees the secret light
32 Whereby sleep shows the soul a fairer way
33 Between the rise and rest of day and night,
34 Shall care no more to fare as all men may,
35 But be his place of pain or of delight,
36 There shall he dwell, beholding night as day.
37 Song, have thy day and take thy fill of light
38 Before the night be fallen across thy way;
39 Sing while he may, man hath no long delight.
My initial attempt is my Sestina for Faramir. Now you try!