A Sonnet that’s not really a Sonnet, but it works

A close friend of mine recently shared the details of a poetic form that has fourteen lines, a specific rhyme scheme, three quatrains, a couplet at the end, and yet it is NOT a Sonnet. … I need to warn you that I tend to write Sonnets, and I greatly appreciate what is possible in expressing oneself in such a highly structured way. I have written 196 of the things in five different styles. If you check my Publications list, you will see a collection of my first 150 Sonnets available for purchase. I consider myself to be a neophyte sonneteer, and I am proud of it.

I took the sharing of the poetic form that is so similar to a Sonnet as a kind of personal challenge. I have felt a need to write a piece for a friend for a while now, but I had not really been motivated. This was the burr under the saddle that spurred me to writing a piece. I would use this form to see how well things would go.

The form is called Bref Double. It is a French form that I had never heard of before. It uses lines that can be of any length, as long as they are all the same length. There is no metering. That, I believe, is the hardest part of Sonnets that people have trouble with. I seem to have an ear for stressed and unstressed syllables, so Iambic Pentameter is not that difficult for me. Others, however, seem totally incapable of getting the stressed and unstressed syllables to work at all.

The rhyme scheme is interesting in that there are only three rhymes, and five of the lines don’t need to rhyme at all. The pattern of the rhymes is such that it is not all that recognizable if you are not aware of there actually being a rhyme scheme. The Rhyme scheme is as follows:

a-x-b-c
x-b-x-c
x-a-x-c
a-b

The “x” is used to show the lines that do not rhyme at all. There are five lines that do not rhyme. None of the lines in the first quatrain rhyme with each other. None of the lines in the second quatrain rhyme with each other. The second line of the second quatrain does rhyme with the third line of the first quatrain and the last line of each quatrain rhyme, but it is hard to realize unless you know to look for it.

The third quatrain does not have any lines that rhyme with each other, either. The second line of the third quatrain does rhyme with the first line of the first quatrain and the last line rhymes with the last lines of the other two quatrains, but still it is rhyming that would slip through the cracks if you didn’t know it was there.

Then there is the couplet at the end. It is not a rhyming couplet. The first line does rhyme with the first line of the first quatrain. The second line rhymes with the third line of the first quatrain. However, the lines of the couplet don’t rhyme with each other.

While this form does have a very specific rhyme scheme, it has a scheme that is significantly different from what I am familiar with, and it does not have the rhymes close enough to each other to be easily associated with each other.

I found it interesting to write a piece in this form. For those that have problems with strict metering, this form doesn’t have it. It does have syllable counts, quatrains, a couplet, and interesting rhymes, but it does NOT have metering. I would highly recommend this form to anyone who wants to do a structured form, but can’t do metering. It opens all sorts of doors into interesting ways to develop thoughts and themes in a structured way. It gives more lines than a Haiku/Senryu/Zappai type piece, and it gives a much more structured pattern that is not found in Open Form. I will have to write more in this way.

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