From the number of views I got from the Collatz Poem poetic form I made, I’d say there are a lot more math-loving poets here than I thought! I thought I’d do another math-related poetic form today. Fortunately for those of you who aren’t too fond of numbers, this one is easier to follow.
First. Let’s do a little recap on the Petrarchan Sonnet, on which the poetic form we’ll be doing today is based. A Petrarchan Sonnet is composed of one octave (eight lines) and one sestet (six lines) written in iambic hexameter (although the meter is optional). In this way, it’s structure can be mathematically represented as: 8 + 6 = 14 lines.
The Curtal Sonnet in other words is a “curtailed” sonnet. Instead of a lead octave, it has a lead sestet, followed by a stanza of 4 and a half lines. “Four and a half!?” you ask. Yes, you read that correctly. Four and a half lines. We may consider it a quintet, of course, but then that’s where the math comes in. Mathematically, the Curtal Sonnet can then be represented as: 6 + 4 1/2 = 10 1/2, which is exactly 3/4 of a whole Petrarchan Sonnet.
The Curtal Sonnet follows an ABCABC rhyme scheme for the sestet and a DBCDC for the 4 1/2-line stanza that it precedes.
What is meant by the four and a half lines in the equation is simply that the last line be shorter. If you’re following the iambic hexameter rule, then you’ll have 12 syllables for every line before the “tail piece” at the end; since that’s the case, then it makes sense that you should have a six-syllable line at the end.
It came to me on cold a night, to meet the urge:
To end myself what be this lonely, dreary life.
Naught but a pistol gold would it take to end it,
Naught but a brazen bullet and my head to merge,
Or in my heaving chest, that glistering penknife . . .
Naught much would it take to join the world’s obit.
Save me, my knight, as I walk to the edge of mirth,
The night’s wind singing with the shrill toot of its fife.
Come before I fall at the brink of life’s bowsprit—
Winds blow silent. I stand at the gates of rebirth;
Without you, I submit.