Swinburne’s Sestet

The form is patterned after Algernon Charles Swinburne’s “Ilicet”

It is stanzaic, consisting of any number of sestets.
It is metered, written in iambic tetrameter.
It is rhymed: aabccb, with all but the b-rhymes being feminine.

My example poem

Retribution – Part 1 (Swinburne Sestet)

The desert stretched before the brothers
with air that clings and nearly smothers
and things that live here go to ground.
Now only driven desperation
could make them risk the dehydration
that others crossing here had found.

The renegades had raped and slaughtered
both Henry’s wife and teen-aged daughter
while Tom and he had been away.
The men had now a fearful mission
and they would kill with no contrition
but first they had to live today.

Their water gone, their strength was failing.
Despite the sun, Tom’s face was paling
The waterhole was miles ahead.
Now… just ahead- they were arriving
the waterhole that meant surviving,
without the water they’d be dead.

The spring was poisoned by the outlaws
their evil, dammit, was without flaws.
In it were bloated putrid sheep.
The sun was hot and acted willing
to help them with their slow distilling
enough to drink then more to keep.

The next two days they traveled nightly
and persevered ’til sun shone brightly.
They set their horses free to roam
in foothills. To continue healthy
their only movements must be stealthy.
or death would call these mountains home.

Each bandit kept his horse and cattle-
delighted with their ill-gained chattel
and forced therefore to stick to trails.
The brothers both had served as trackers
and army scouts, and were not slackers,;
they were in fact as hard as nails.

One had a crossbow, one a rifle
both carried knives to wreak reprisal.
Now vengeance was their only aim.
The renegades had thrived on terror,
but their last raid had been an error
now retribution surely came.

© Lawrencealot – July 21, 2014
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