Fixed poetic forms [186]


Encoding of clearly defined poetic forms such as sonnets, including possible values for type= on <div>, and instructions for marking internal subdivisions


This entry describes how to encode fixed poetic forms such as sonnets, limericks, etc.

If a poem is one of the fixed poetic forms, its enclosing <div> element should have one of the type= attribute values listed below. Within this outer <div>, we break the poem down only into its largest sub-components, the ones which are used as part of the definition of the poetic form, or the parts which are separated by white space (if any). These subcomponents are encoded with <lg>. Instructions for typical use of <lg> is given with each poem type below.

Acrostic: <div type="poem.acrostic">. An acrostic poem is a poem in one or more stanzas where the first letters of the lines can be read downwards to form a word, usually a person’s name. Divide into whatever line groupings are indicated by internal white space.

English Ode: <div type="poem.ode-Eng">. An English Ode takes the form of three stanzas of ten lines each, written in iambic pentameter. The rhymes follow the pattern ABABCDECDE but with diffent rhymes in each stanza. Tag each stanza with <lg>; within each stanza, tag the quatrain and the sestet.

Limerick: <div type="poem.limerick">. The limerick usually takes the form of a quintet rhyming AABBA; occasionally the third and fourth lines are combined into a single line with internal rhyme. No internal components are tagged.

Sestina: <div type="sestina">. This form is rare in our textbase; it is an extremely complex form comprising six sestets and a tercet as an envoi (a half stanza that concludes a poem and sends it on its way). Sestets two to six re-use the end words of the first sestet in a pattern of 615243, and the same six words also turn up in the envoi. Divide into sestets and a tercet

Sonnets: <div type="poem.sonnet">, <div type="poem.sonnet-petrarchan">, <div type="poem.sonnet-shakespearean">. Any line group of fourteen rhymed, iambic pentameter lines qualifies as a sonnet. Where you have a sonnet that doesn’t conform to the base Petrarchan or Shakespearean forms, use the generic value “poem.sonnet”. The Petrarchan (or “Italian”) form comprises an octave followed by a sestet. The octave rhymes ABBAABBA, the sestet will usually be either CDECDE or CDCDCD. The Shakespearean (or “English”) sonnet form comprises three quatrains and a concluding heroic couplet. The quatrains will rhyme either ABAB CDCD EFEF or ABBA CDDC EFFE; the couplet will be GG. Divide Shakespearean sonnets into quatrains and couplets; divide Petrarchan sonnets into octet and sestet.

Spatial: <div type="poem.spatial">. This is a fixed form in the sense that whatever its composition in terms of stanzas, meter, or rhyme, its typographical appearance on the page represents a recognisable shape. It might be an abstract geometric shape (like a sphere, or a triangle) or a figurative shape that relates to the theme of the poem. Divide into whatever line groupings are indicated by internal white space.

Villanelle: <div type="poem.villanelle">. In the villanelle there are five tercets and a concluding quatrain, utilizing only two rhymes throughout, and with lines one and three returning in other stanzas. (This is another complex form that, like the sestina, will be rare in our textbase.) Divide into tercets and a quatrain.

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