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Hello everyone!  We have a guest host, Rosemary Nissen Wade, who will handle our next poetry form, Dizain.

Hello dVerse! Many thanks to Grace & dVerse team for the opportunity to share one of my favourite forms.

Though free verse is my usual preference and I turn to it naturally, I also love to play with form. These days the circumstances of my offline life mean I respond to poetry prompts much less often than I once did – but a form prompt will often get me. (Such as those offered here this year.)

Brief History

The dizain is a 10-line form which – like so many good ones – originated in France. It was popular there in the 15th and 16 Centuries, and has also been used by such famous English poets as John Keats and Philip Sidney.

Basic Structure

The basic rules for the dizain are that it has one stanza consisting of 10 lines, with 10 syllables per line, and the rhyme scheme is ababbccdcd. Do you see how the second half of the stanza sort of mirrors the rhyme scheme of the first? Not using the same rhymes,but reversing the sequence. It’s more obvious if I make a break between sections: ababb ccdcd – though the poem is not usually written with a break.

Then again, I sometimes have put in verse breaks to make a dizain of two or three stanzas within the 10 lines, in a slight departure from the classic form. It’s fun to play with possibilities.

Or I have sometimes written a double dizain, of two 10-line stanzas, as many other poets do too. (Any more than that would get too far away, I think, from the intention of the dizain, which is a fairly succinct form – albeit able to express a lot in its 10 lines.)

I find it lends itself just as well to humorous or colloquial verse as to more serious examples.

Further research reveals an 8-line variation, of 8 syllables per line, rhyming ababcdcd. (Personally I think the 10-line version with its unusual rhyme scheme is more fun.) Some sources also say that although no metre is necessary, iambic pentameter is often used –but that’s really up to the poet.

Examples of the 10-line dizain

Although I so enjoyed the form, I haven’t used it often since the Poetic Asides challenge in 2016. I’ll have to see what I can come up with now! Meanwhile, from my 2016 efforts, here is my second-place-getter:


When the flame stretches a tendril of light
and catches the circling moth, there’s a flare
,a sudden incandescence, briefly bright …
then it’s as if nothing was ever there –
only silence, only the empty air.
Of you and me, I didn’t know which one
was moth, and which flame – until you were gone.
Mourning that death, I thought you the moth, who
in that blazing moment, vanishing, shone.
Then I saw how caught I was. Then I knew.

And here is one with a more mundane focus:

Feeling Frustrated

It is a serious issue for me
when I have no internet connection.
I need my hobby group (photography)
plus the whole online poetry section.
Lacking all access is a distraction –
not in a good way. I want to protest.
I want to protest vociferously
and do some violence too, if I’m honest.
I’m too far from the tower, they tell me.
Service is weak – too bad, end of story.

You can find many more online, e.g. at the Tir na Nog site. http://thepoetsgarret.com/2010Challenge/form16.html Only be careful: Google wants to change ‘dizain’ to ‘design’ – whereas on your own document autocorrect will try and turn it into ‘disdain’ or even ‘dizziness’!

So, for this month’s Poetry Form, please write a 10-line dizain: 10 syllables per line and rhyme scheme ababbccdcd; theme or topic of your own choosing. For this event we’ll exclude both double dizains and the 8-line version. But you are welcome to use more than one stanza within the 10-line limit. You know the drill – post to your blog and share via Mr Linky.


You might like to take an old poem that wasn’t working to your satisfaction and turn it into a dizain. In that case, please show us the source poem too. The link will be open for a month, so there is plenty of opportunity to try more than one dizain. We also encourage you to post, as new links, any revisions to yourinitial attempts.Have fun!– Rosemary Nissen-Wade

About our guest host: Tasmanian-born, lived many years in Melbourne before going happily sub-tropical in 1994. Career in librarianship 1962-1980. Helped start Poets Union of Australia in the late seventies. Pioneered poetry workshops in Australian prisons in the earlyeighties. Formed Word of Mouth Poetry Theatre with Anita Sinclair, Ken Smeaton and Malcolm Brodie, 1986. Performance poet. Teacher of creative writing at tertiary and community levels. Widely published in paper journals and anthologiesbefore embracing the online poetry community.

For her various monographs, chapbooks and collaborations, search her Amazon and Smashwords pages.Note: Alphabetical listings should place her under N, not W.