Poetry 101: Triolet

by courtvanhaaren

Triolet, french for repetition.

No, not really. But this poetry format is definitely repetitive. I feel like I’m reading the same two lines, which, in this case, is almost completely true.

A triolet is an eight line poem that dates back to thirteenth century France. The first implementation is credited to monk Patrick Carey, who used the format for many devotionals. The time frame from the origin to Carey is pretty lengthy (thirteenth to seventeenth), but I’m not going to argue with history. The triolet gained momentary popularity with British poets in the nineteenth century, but has since then skimmed under the radar.

The use of triolet had been heavily employed by poets as humorous devices, but has been employed by poets like Thomas Hardy to write serious themes.

Okay, the format of the triolet sounds complicated, but it is actually a fairly simple scheme. It can be laid out as this:


So, in this set-up, the first line is repeated in line four and line seven. The second line serves also as the final line. All in all, you have five out of eight lines already. The other lines follow in order listed above, following a limited two rhyme scheme.

The meter is credited as iambic tetrameter, which of course I didn’t know while writing my first triolet.

The one absolutely cool thing about this format though is the use of punctuation. Punctuation can be added to completely alter the intent of the line, making it different from its previous or future repetition. I actually really adore that about this form, especially with the close lines.

This poem layout is simple and clever, one worth looking into.

Until next time

~CM VanHaaren

Sources (X)(X)

My triolet(X)