2. Sestina

I felt up for a challenge today, so I decided I’d do a sestina and get it over with this early on.

It isn’t too long ago that I discovered what a sestina was. I thought I’d give it a shot; it looked like fun at the time (and it is). But as I read on it, my initial reaction was of the “O.o” persuasion.

The sestina is as structured as hell. It’s made of six six-liners with a tercet at the end, with the same set of six words ending each line of the stanzas but in a different order, and then again in the tercet. At a glance, it seems impossible (I know I thought it was) but it is doable.


The picture shows the switch of ending words throughout the succession of stanzas. The numbers indicate the ending words for a particular line; the roman numerals refer to stanza numbers. This means that “1” (the ending word of the first line in stanza I) will come in the second line of stanza II, fourth in stanza III, and so on; “2” second in stanza I, fourth in stanza II, fifth in stanza III, and so on.

Structure aside, the sestina is a beautiful poetic form, save for the rare instance of jarring repetitions.

Until I Come Back

I see but only one way to go:
And that beyond, beyond what be.
With the moon’s pallid glow hung above,
Dare I leave with nothing on my back—
Not the pain left behind nor the heart I once held—
Nothing. And nothing I remain.

In my mind I dream but fret to remain,
That I am not as lost as if I do not go.
Memories haunt, of the arms that I once held,
That even as I am not strong, I’m forced to be—
To walk away and never turn back,
That even as I know…, I can only look above.

And there I see but a void above,
There once my dreams and yours remain.
The flow of time forbids me to go back—
And a world without you is the one place I may go.
I call out to the stars to ask what be:
My dreams and yours we both once held.

Empty, my arms where once yours I held;
Then I scream and holler to the gods above:
How callous and merciless they all must be
To take you far away while I remain
Without a place that I may go,
And the fear of pain from looking back.

My body yearns to turn back,
But of what use without the arms that I once held?
Will I have forever nowhere left to go?
And I ask again the gods above
Why you are gone and I remain—
But the answer stands to be what be.

I wonder how long left I’ll be
If I cannot steal you back.
But the answer lay so clearly as to not remain.
Then I may hold again what I once held.
I turn to the heavens up above;
Peculiar as it be to smile as I go.

I understand that I remain only to be
For a while to go until I come back
To the arms that once I held, in the skies up above.


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