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Hello Fellow Poets!  Jilly behind the bar tonight and we will be Meeting the Bar with

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition!

Wait, didn’t we already do this about 6 weeks ago? Our Bartender is repeating herself.  Yes, my friends, I am repeating myself. I am also raising the bar, which according to our theme of Meeting the Bar, means you will have to jump a little higher or limbo a little lower with this challenge.  In October, when last I was your host, we wrote poetry that employed repetition; repetition of a single word, a phrase, or a line. The conversations that week often went in the direction of repetitive forms, which brings us to this challenge.

We are going to be brave and dive into repetitive forms.

No, don’t leave!  C’mon back and have a drink and hear me out.  Lest you think I am asking everyone to write a terribly difficult form, let’s take a closer look at five repetitive forms ranging from the challenging to the manageable.  

Let’s start with the Challenging end of the spectrum:

Villanelles, Ternzanelles & Pantoums

I will be sharing links that explain each of these forms; many of them are from Rob Brewer’s excellent list of forms.  If you are new to writing forms, I highly suggest you explore his (now) list of 86 forms.  For the quick primer on the Villanelle, click on the link.

The single most well-known Villanelle is Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night  by Dylan Thomas, however, I am choosing to spotlight One Art  by Elizabeth Bishop because of its effortless quality. (If you want to see how not effortless this marvelous poem was in its editing process, stop by here )

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

As you can see, Ms. Bishop, like many poets, tweaks her repetitive lines. I find a Villanelle template really helpful when I set about this tough form. (Here’s the template I use)

The basics of a Villanelle is that lines 1 & 3 from the first stanza become the alternating end line for the succeeding stanzas.  Then of course there is the rhyme scheme of aba throughout the poem, so the trick is to select end words that rhyme well.


The Terzanelle is described by more than one poet is a ‘gauntlet.’ If you follow the link to Poetic Asides,  you will find the basics and some great examples.

I wrote a Terzanelle several years ago just so I could say I had done it; it is my offering for tonight. It is not as difficult as it seems at first glance and I hope some of you will give it a try!


The third form from the category of ‘Man, that is tough!’ is the Pantoum.  This one is my personal bane; never written one, but I know that many of our dVersers have done so.

Let’s take a look at a tremendous Pantoum by A.E. Stallings called Another Lullaby for InsomniacsThe topic of chasing after sleep lends itself quite well to this Malaysian form:

Sleep, she will not linger:
She turns her moon-cold shoulder.
With no ring on her finger,
You cannot hope to hold her.

She turns her moon-cold shoulder
And tosses off the cover.
You cannot hope to hold her:
She has another lover.

She tosses off the cover
And lays the darkness bare.
She has another lover.
Her heart is otherwhere.

She lays the darkness bare.
You slowly realize
Her heart is otherwhere.
There’s distance in her eyes.

You slowly realize
That she will never linger,
With distance in her eyes
And no ring on her finger.

Now that I’ve tossed out three fairly tough repetitive forms, let’s throttle down and look at two forms that might be more to the taste of those poets who want to put a toe in the water but not go swimming.

Triolet and Chant

The Triolet  is a French form that is only 8 lines long in which several lines repeat themselves.

The rhyme scheme is abaaabab.  You will find excellent examples of this form when you visit the site of our own Frank Hubeny and he posted a Triolet last month for our first Repetition Challenge.  Take a look at Indiana Autumn

Here is a Triolet by Thomas Hardy:

Birds at Winter Nightfall

Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly!–faster
Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone!


Our fifth and final form is poetry’s most primitive repetitive form.  Gather round the fire, bring your drum and be prepared to dance.  Let’s look at the Chant.

(Click here for or a more in-depth look at Chant form)

An outstanding example of a Chant poem was posted last month by Charley over at Life in Portofino and he has granted me permission to share it again. Enjoy Djembe Talk

The Chant form can be as simple as repeating every other line or repeating a phrase or two like a song refrain.  Christmas Bells by Longfellow falls into this category.

It seems fitting to hear it sung, and no one does Christmas songs as well as Karen and Richard.

Your challenge, my fellow poets, is to write a Form Poem that makes use of Repetitive Lines. There are many poetic forms that use repetitive lines and you are certainly not restricted to the five I have mentioned above.  Please do let us know which form you are using and if it is not one of these five, share a quick explanation of how the form works and even a link, that others might learn from you!

New to dVerse?  Here’s what to do:

  • Write a poem as the prompt suggests, and post it to your blog.
  • Click on Mr. Linky below to add your name and enter the direct URL to your poem
  • On your blog, please provide a link back to dVerse.
  • If you promote your poem on social media, use the tag #dverse poets

And most importantly, treat yourself to reading some of the other responses to the prompt and add a short comment or reaction. Everyone likes to be appreciated! The prompt is “live” for several days – as you’ll notice by the comments you’ll receive, so please stop back in and read a few of the latecomers too!