Sicilian Octave

The Sicilian octave is an 8-line stanza rhyming abababab. 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,
The rail network once more in disarray
(Which is, if truth be told, its normal state).

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. 
All wait alike inevitable hours.
The timetable is but a fairy tale.

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

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

And if you drop a couplet from the second stanza above - lines 3 and 4, say - you have a Sicilian sonnet.

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Bob Newman 2005. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 12/07/2005