Health and Fitness

Lament For Lady Beth and Terza Rima

Terza rima is a rhyming verse stanza form that consists of an interlocking three line rhyme scheme. It was first used by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. Most recently, it was used by Jonas Hyde in his epic release, Lament for Lady Beth.

Terza rima is a three-line stanza using chain rhyme in the pattern a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d. There is no limit to the number of lines, but poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet. The two possible endings for the example above are d-e-d, e or d-e-d, e-e. In Lament for Lady Beth, Hyde uses the form of a-b-a-b-c-b-c-d-c-d-d.

The first known use of terza rima is in Dante's Divina Commedia. In creating the form, Dante may have been influenced by the sirventes, a lyric form used by the Provencal troubadours. The three-line pattern may have been intended to suggest the Holy Trinity. After Dante, other Italian poets, including Petrarch and Boccaccio, used the form.

The first English poet to write in terza rima was Geoffrey Chaucer, who used it for his Complaint to His Lady. Although a difficult form to use in English because of the relative paucity of rhyme words available in what is, in comparison with Italian, an overly inflected language, terza rima has been used by Milton, Byron (in his Prophecy of Dante) and Shelley (in his Ode to the West Wind and The Triumph of Life). A number of 20th century poets also employed the form. These include Archibald MacLeish, W. H. Auden, Andrew Cannon, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Derek Walcott, Clark Ashton Smith, and most recently, Jonas Hyde.

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