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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!


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