Ottava Rima

Ottava Rima uses 8-line stanzas rhyming abababcc. According to some authorities, the lines should be hendecasyllables (i.e. 11-syllables long); according to others, iambic pentameter is fine - which is a good, because that is what I have used for my example: 

Elegy on a mainline terminus
The city winds down from another day,
The hum of business starting to abate.
As workers homeward plod their weary way,
Frustrations from the office dissipate.
Then at the station crowds seethe in dismay –
The trains to take them home are running late.
Some give up, and seek solace in a pub.
But does drink mellow them? Aye, there’s the rub!

Wracked by his guilt, the station master cowers.
Announcers make excuses; porters quail.
The tyrant with unchallenged office powers
Finds here his claims to special status fail.
Disruption to the evening journey sours
The mood of those enfeebled by travail. 
Come, god of travel, crack a thunderbolt!
Ignite the longed-for passengers’ revolt!

I was thinking of London's Waterloo station rather than Stoke Poges.

It doesn't take much to change an ottava rima stanza into a Sicilian octave - it's a simple matter of rewriting the last two lines.

As the name suggests, ottava rima originated in Italy, where it was used extensively by Boccaccio, Ariosto and others. The most famous example of its use in English is Byron's Don Juan. Other notable poets to have used ottava rima are Milton, Shelley, Keats and Yeats

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© Bob Newman 2004. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 12/07/2005