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Public Confession: I Covet Terza Rima

Of all the rhyme schemes out there, the one I covet

is terza rima, verse’s triple-double,

the braided tercet. I suspect I love its

 

interlock, its trinities that couple

and link their units each to each to each.

Most English poets think it isn’t worth the trouble,

 

but don’t believe what these professors teach—

our language isn’t all that poor in rhyme

(though practice helps me practice what I preach).

 

The problem is that half (one-third?) the time

the reader thinks you’re imitating Dante,

and good luck standing next to that sublime

 

hellraiser. Scaling heaven upped the ante.

Even Italian poets have avoided this—

you never see it in Leopardi’s Canti

 

or in Montale. Terza rima is

malleable music molded to the man

who, consecrating it to Beatrice,

 

denied it thrice to any lesser hand.