Triplet (Classic)

The Triplet has its roots in 16th century England. The classic triplet is a three line, mono-rhymed verse with meter at the discretion of the poet. It can be written as a stand alone poem or can be stanzaic, written using any number of triplets.

The word “triplet” is commonly interchanged with tercet. Since respected sources give definitions of both the triplet and the tercet that are exactly the same, similar and sometimes contradictory, I felt there should be a clearer separation of the two. One distinction I found unanimous was that authorities invariably used the term triplet when referring to a monorhymed three line stanza. Therefore, in order to be consistent and clear throughout this research, I use the term “tercet” whenever referring to any three line poem or stanza except when that poem or stanza is monorhymed, then I use “triplet”. It seems to me the best way to distinguish between the terms, although I could probably just say tercet is Italian and triplet is English for the same definition but then why in English would we use the word tercet at all?

John Dreyden, English poet and critic said of the use of the triplet, “they bound the sense”, I’ve read he used the stanza, writing a rhymed, iambic pentameter couplet followed by a rhyming Alexandrine line but have so far been unsuccessful in finding an example. The contemporary Blues Stanza would fall under the umbrella of the classic triplet.

A classic triplet is:
• a 3 line poem or stanza.
• monorhymed, aaa bbb.
• metered at the discretion of the poet. 

Upon Julia’s Clothes by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
When as in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
O, how that glittering taketh me!

• Culminating Verse is a subgenre of the classic triplet. It is in reality simply a classic triplet using a type of word play, increasing the (number of) initial consonants of the rhyme word from line to line. eg. air / care / stare.

Smog by Judi Van Gorder
The thick LA air
gives me a care
when it stings my stare.

Diminishing Verse is also a subgenre of the classic triplet. It is a classic triplet using a type of word play that reduces the (number of) initial consonants of the rhyme word from line to line. eg. that / bat / at.

Found by Judi Van Gorder
I’m not all that,
can’t swing a bat,
but I know where I’m at.

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

Related forms: Brevette, Blues Stanza, Culminating Verse, Diminishing Verse,Trio, Triplet

My example

Upon Julia’s Smock  (Parody of Upon Julia’s Clothes)

When wearing nothing but a smock,
And walking toward me with that walk
I know now’s not the time to talk.

© Lawrencealot 

Massed Transit (Culminating Verse)

When the thong compresses us
when we’re crowded on the bus
it’ still best that we not fuss.

(c) Lawrencealot

Gourmet (Diinishing Verse)

I’m pleased to see you cleared your plate.
I so enjoy a sated mate
who seldom cares what he just ate.

(c) Lawrencealot


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