Terza Rima

Let me precede this by saying I know my poem is rubbish so you don’t have to pretend it’s good, but if you could give me any tips on how to improve I would really appreciate it.

We were at a dance
You stepped on my shoe
If I had the chance

I would have kicked you
before you birled out of view

I think ideally terza rima should be written in iambic pentameter, but it was all I could do to think of enough words that rhymed, never mind get the right number of syllables in. Any tips on writing rhyming poetry? Or on writing in iambic pentameter? Thank you 🙂


8 thoughts on “Terza Rima

  1. I actually like this – it has a politeness which – considering it’s about wanting to kick someone – makes it very funny!

    I never try to make poems rhyme in a first draft – even if I have decided I’m going to rhyme them – I let the narrative/lines flow as best they come and then worry about the rhyme in later drafts else I find they seem forced or clunky. What I usually find is that there’s a lot of natural rhyme anyway, and you can fiddle about then and sometimes get a better poem without full rhymes than if you tried to shoe-horn them in.
    As for iambs – just say your words out loud – or get a child to say them, they often stress words more clearly – and mark the syllables as you write them. Hope that’s some help?

    • Hi Rachel, Yes, that’s a lot of help, thank you! I probably wrote my terza rima the wrong way round in that case, because I started by trying to think of words that rhymed. I’ll try another poem where I write what I want to say first, then look for rhyming words.

      I’ll practice reading allowed to work out the right stress pattern for iambic pentameter. Good idea!

  2. I enjoyed this, it made me smile which is a good thing!

    Terza rima should be in iambic pentameter i think you’re right there. As a haiku writer i find it easier to count syllables as I go, which gives the same number of beats and then check over to find places that stick out as not fitting in to the iambic stress pattern.

    Rhyming can be difficult, so much rhyme can sound clunky or forced (though in humourous verse, really obvious rhyme can be a good thing), I find though that rhyming can start to happen of its own accord, if you read enough good rhyming poetry and practice writing your own a fair bit.

    Crafty Green poet

    • Juliet, thanks for your feedback. I think you’re right that I should count the syllables first before I try to get the iambic stress pattern. When I wrote the haikus I was very careful to count the right number of syllables but I didn’t do that for this poem.

      I definitely need to read more rhyming poetry. I’m sure that will help. A lot of the poems I read don’t have a set rhyme pattern but there are occasional rhymes and half rhymes. I think perhaps rhyming poetry has gone out of fashion a bit? Just the feeling I get from reading literary anthologies and magazines.

  3. I hadn’t come across terza rima before (shameful, as my father was a Dante nut) and I really enjoyed this! All I have to go on is the Wikipedia entry, which has the iambic pent, but also suggests the rhyme scheme is ABA BAB CBC, DCD EDE AEA etc etc. I fancy having a go – I’m no poet, but quaintly old-fashioned enough to think poetry should (mostly) rhyme!

    • Oh, I thought terza rima was ABA, BCB, CDC etc finishing with a couplet? Either way, it’s still an interesting (read ‘challenging’) exercise to try to write a poem with a specific structure/rhyme pattern/rhythm. If you have a go let, me know. It would be fun to see what other people come up with!

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