Skip to main content

Ottava Rima Poem

Giovanni Boccaccio
Today I've gone Italian with an Ottava Rima poem. An Ottava Rima is a poetic form made up of eight lines that rhyme. Each line consists of eleven syllables.The Ottava Rima in its current form was first created by the Italian poet, Giovanni BoccaccioIt is based on a poetic form then used in Sicily, incorporating an alternating rhyming scheme throughout its eight lines. The double rhyme in the last two verses was introduced later on.

An Ottava Rima poem is made up of an octave with the rhyme pattern:


This poem presented an interesting challenge, but then again a challenge is a good thing for a poet. I kept returning to it across a couple of weeks. 

Distancing myself from the words allowed me to return with a clearer vision about what my poem needed in order to settle. Sometimes making a poem is akin to working with Lego pieces. When the word arrangement works, you hear everything click into place. 

Some tinkering and line movement proved quite useful in the end. I would recommend Ottava Rima poems for older students or practised and confident younger poets. The poem itself was inspired by some recent reading about the lives of Eskimos.

Eskimo Summer

The Eskimo's life changes in Summer too
Paddling kayaks while blue water entrances
White whale and bearded seals are a coup
Caribou rush with hope of unnoticed glances
Seeking out the fleeting herds is a quest so true
They search and explore across the vast expanses
Eskimos hunt with precise animal skill
A backdrop of ice, while stalking their kill.


  1. *Snap* I can't believe I came here to read and Ottava Rima. I had never heard of the form, prior to this week - and haven't yet written my own yet - but have studied up and taken notes and will write one... also set to an icy backdrop!! #AntarcticWIP #versenovel #timingiseverything

    Your Ottava Rima has a lovely rhythm. Double-thank-you for sharing! :)

    1. My pleasure Kat. As I stated above, it was an interesting challenge and I will certainly revisit the form. Good luck with your own efforts. It is always good to take yourself to new poetry places.

  2. A new poetic form for me to try-thanks Alan. Yours is quite interesting. I appreciate the time you put into it.

    1. Thanks Carol. It was a most interesting undertaking. I enjoyed it.

  3. Likewise, this is a new poetic form for me, too. I'm still a little afraid of rhyming poems, but I have been brave enough to try a few recently. Here's another one to practice and stretch with. I love your last line!

    1. Good for you Kay. Rhyme is always an interesting challenge. In the last year I have been trying to write more free verse, but it keeps bubbling up. Irrepressible rhyme!

  4. Ooh, I love all the concrete details you worked in to evoke this setting!

    1. Thank you Laura. I guess that's the nature of such subject matters. It demands concrete details in order for the reader to visualise the scene.

  5. Wow! What a form. It looks like a fun challenge. I agree that the concrete details that paint the setting are fantastic. I may have to give this form a try.

    1. A fun challenge- that's what it was Linda. I hope you get to try it for yourself.

  6. A new poetic challenge unfolding the changing life of an Eskimo, thanks for sharing the poem and form with us Alan!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Challenge Of Rhyming Verse For The Inexperienced Poet

Poetry is an extremely flexible writing form. It is easily weaved into our writing programs across the year as opposed to just being pigeon holed into a specific unit of work. Poetry offers a unique response to literature -fiction or non fiction. Such is the flexible nature of poetry. 

From an early age children have much exposure to a significant amount of rhyming verse. That our classrooms are filled with poetry that is enjoyable to listen to, or fun to read is important, but it may not necessarily provide the best starting point for inexperienced poetry writers.

When used skilfully rhyme can add to the lyrical nature of poetry. When it is used out a sense of expectation, it frequently serves to detract from the poem's intention. It weakens the words overall. If you listen closely you can hear the words clunking into place. They just sound like they don't belong.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-rhyme. In fact, I have to guard against over using it. It is a natural inclina…

List Poems Are Easy To Like

A list poem is one of the easiest kinds of poems to write because it doesn't require a set rhythm or rhyme. But that doesn't mean you should write anything down helter- skelter.

Consider the inclusion of the following elements to make a list poem a poem instead of just a list:

• The writer is telling you something--pointing something out--saying, "Look at this," or, "Think about this."
• There's a beginning and end to it, like in a story.
• In other words, the poem needs to make sense and have some kind of flow to it.

List poems provide an easy and successful structure to get children feeling more comfortable with poetry. They are to be found in the poetry of many cultures and have been employed successfully by many contemporary poets.

Poetry is full of surprises. List also need to be full of surprises. Without the occasional surprise your list poems will have all the appeal of a supermarket shopping list on a day when you don't want to go shopping!

Here …

Image Poem

Image Poem

This poem owes its existence to Georgia Heard's idea of the six room image poem where six elements are addressed in the writing that follows:


The challenge is to expand our vision of selected images by attending to each element when writing. The idea is to spend time considering each of the six elements by thinking about them as rooms we must enter in order to think more deeply about our word choice.

The Grandfather Clock

The Grandfather clock
Stood tall like a palace guard
Marking time in Nana's lounge-room
Against the wall
Avoiding the sunlight streaming through lace curtained windows
Tick-tocking as the pendulum swung in its unerring arc
Brass and chains and moving arms 
Encased behind a long glass face
The clock announced the passing of each hour
With blare and boom
The rowdy ringing out
Chased the silence from the room
Why so loud? the small ones asked
Why so tall? the small ones wondered
They kept their distance
Time moved on relentlessl…