Structure, Metrical Requirement, Repetitive Requirement
Description: Form invented by US poet John Ciardi, it could be considered a semi-gloss. It consists of six six-line verses. Each line of the first verse is the first line of one of the six verses in order. Ciardi’s trenta-sei was written in five-stress accentual lines.
Attributed to: John Ciardi
Origin: American
Schematic: Repetition scheme:
Rhythm/Stanza Length: 6
Line/Poem Length:          36

Measuring poetry as accentual verse, one only counts the stressed syllables in the line, so a line might have four stresses and anywhere from four to sixteen syllables and still be considered a four-stress line. Many forms of accentual verse use alliteration to tie the stresses together.

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My thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his years of work on the wonderful Poetrybase resource.


The poem consists of six six-line stanzas rhyming ababcc, with lines two through six in stanza one becoming line one of a following stanza, in that order. As a resolving device, he allows the fifth line of stanza one to change from the present tense to the past when it appears as the first line of stanza five.
As in other works by John Ciardi, the line is clearly the unit of the poem, a unit at the same time of sound, sense, and syntax, so that the reader progressing through the poem feels solid ground underfoot. At the same time, most of the lines raise a question, in the mind of the reader, that the next line will answer:
The species-truth of the matter is we are glad (of what?)
to have a death to munch on. Truth to tell, (which truth is what?)
we are also glad to pretend it makes us sad.
When it comes to dying, Keats did it so well (how well?)
we thrill to the performance…
And so forth, building for the reader a compelling sense of forward motion.
Ciardi’s rarest accomplishment in this poem, apart from the prosodic form, is the closing of a thought with the closing of each stanza. It’s not often that we find a poet so clearly in control of the poem.
The resolution of the poem is perhaps its finest moment: It looks back on itself and says to the reader—inductively, so that she can take it home—“This is what the poem is getting at,” and says it with such finality that if it were the last line on the page, one would not turn the page to see if the poem ended there. The poem doesn’t just end: it resolves.
All of this is to say that John Ciardi has done what the maker of any artwork wants to do, which is to make the very difficult look easy, to give form to the wildest feelings, and—though this rarely happens—to give the art a shape it didn’t have before. One would think that such a shape in poetry would begin to appear in anthologies and textbooks, and that other poets would be persuaded by the intriguing challenges and possibilities to write their own trenta-seis.

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Trenta-sei, (French = 36), is a modern day verse form that appears to have taken its cue from the Sestina and the Villanelle. “Like the Sestina it is a strong pattern not likely to get lost in the language of the poem” Miller Williams, Patterns of Poetry, although it seems less “thought out”. The rotating repetition of lines from the first stanza brings a little feel of the Villanelle but the repetition is less obvious. The Trenta-sei was created by a 20th century American Poet, John Ciardi.

The Trenta-sei is:
• narrative verse.
• usually written as accentual verse (the rhythm of today’s speech) with 5 stressed syllables per line
• stanzaic, composed of 6 sixains, 36 lines total.
• rhymed, with the rhyme scheme of a heroic sestet, aB1A1B2C1C2 / B1dbdee / A1fafgg / B2hbhii / C1jcjkk / C2lclmm
• composed with each line (with the exception of L1) of the first stanza taking its turn as the first line of the following stanzas..

Game Six, a trenta sei by Judi Van Gorder 10-26-02
Bonds at bat, Rodrigues paws the mound,
no outs, one strike, two balls, two more, will he walk?
Excited fans react with thunder stick sound
the summer sport disciples have come to gawk.
Illusive is the rocky road to fame,
a national favorite, a World Series game.

No outs, one strike, two balls, two more, will he walk?
It’s the top of the sixth, no runners on base
he swings with quickening speed and powers the rock
I watch the ball soar high—to outer space,
and he does it again and jogs home to his fate;
his place in history, he’ll not abdicate.

Excited fans react with thunder stick sound,
with rattle slap and clatter, when will it stop?
The noise so loud it shakes and rumbles the ground
like a stampede of horses running clippety-clop
and what is with that monkey on the stick?
If Giants should win, the angels will be sick!

The summer sport disciples have come to gawk
enjoying beer and hot dogs passing around
while spectators cheer, others in shock.
It’s the thrill of the place, the faithful expound,
intensity builds increasing the sound of the din
and I pray for my team to bring home the big win.

Illusive is the rocky road to fame,
the team in red at home and now, down one.
My guys on the road, with ralley monkeys to tame;
a hit, the Angels scored, now this is no fun.
The top of the ninth, can we pull this one through?
My stomach in knots like I just got the flu.

A national favorite, a World Series game,
“strike three” he shouts–and number six is done,
tomorrow tells if hopes go up in flame.
Another nine innings and the best team has won,
we’ll call them the champs and have a parade.
my hopes are the Giants will make the grade.

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My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

Rhyme scheme: aB1A1B2C1C2 B1dbdee A1fafgg B2hbhii C1jcjkk C2lclmm

My example

Note: Dear readers this uses FOUR stressed syllables per line, rather than the standard 5, simply the result of this poet’s inattention.

Tytler Unfolding   (Trenta-sei)

To ask for more from other men,
expecting something is your due
to take and take and take again
That leads to power all will rue.
A tyranny must wrest control
to lock down dictatorial role.

Expecting something is your due
when you’ve not served the body’s cause
will only work when just a few
rely on stipends passed by laws.
When many take and few produce
the few will balk at that abuse.

to take and take and take again
requires the government to tax.
the payer may not now abstain
and takers need not even ask.
At some point, ruler will inflate
in order to accommodate.

That leads to power all will rue.
Dependency per Tytler’s rules
is followed by dictator’s coup.
When selfishness makes many fools
and wealth has had to concentrate
the government must confiscate.

A tyranny must wrest control
and then the one-percent must fall
to keep the masses on the dole,
then things deteriorate for all.
And thus the cycle will repeat-
with bloodshed when there’s naught to eat.

To lock down dictatorial role
The business king-pins must be crushed.
An iron fist must take its toll-
then pain- the cycle can’t be rushed.
We’re getting close; I fear great cost
we must awaken ‘ere we’re lost.

© Lawrencealot – August 25, 2014

* The Tytle Cycle is explained here:

Visual template


Arkquain String

A poem of 36 lines invented by Madison Shaw, aka Arkbear on Allpoetry.
Most important..>>>…….Every ( 7 ) Syllable Line,
MUST Rhyme with each other, within their own Arkquain ~
Rhyme pattern: xxxxxaaxxxxx
Syllabic 1/2/3/4/5/7/7/5/4/3/2/1
It must be centered.
Essentially THREE arkquains STRUNG together.
Example Poem
tongue probes
parted lips
seeking your own.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hesitant to leave
your lips, tongue tests lips texture,
explores their architecture.
Lingers lanquishly.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Then, insisting,
drives to touch
your own
tip, over,
then whole tongue squeezed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Your mouth consuming
my probing, demanding tongue;
projecting promises sung
to lower body.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My lips seek you
inside of
my mouth
know that
this tongue tastes
tempting texture.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Warm smooth undulate
deems greedy mouth but proxy
for the vessel this foxy
lady promises.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
pulse increase,
© Lawrencealot – May 26, 2012