AskDefine | Define triolet

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. an eight-line poem, whose rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB and lines are in iambic tetrameter

Extensive Definition

A triolet ( or /ˌtriːəˈleɪ/) is a poetic form of that is eight lines long. Its rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB and all lines are in iambic tetrameter; the first, fourth and seventh lines are identical, as are the second and final lines, thereby making the initial and final couplets identical as well.


The form stems from medieval French poets - the earliest written examples are from the late 13th century. Some of the earliest known triolets composed in English were written by the Benedictine monk Patrick Carey, who purportedly used them in his devotions. An effective conventional triolet achieves two things; firstly the naturalness of the refrain and secondly the alteration of the refrain's meaning. Take, for example, the following by Thomas Hardy;
"Birds At Winter"
Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone'
From holly and cotoneaster
Around the house. The flakes fly! – faster
Shutting indoors the crumb-outcaster
We used to see upon the lawn
Around the house. The Flakes fly faster
And all the berries now are gone!''
Notice how in the last line the punctuation is altered; this is common although not strictly in keeping with the original form. Furthermore, the fact that the 'berries now are gone' has a new relevance; the birds are going unfed. Triolets are a reasonably rare form; but their concise nature is a good start for new poets. They are used more than anything in cards and love letters - their short beauty makes them a perfect gift.
triolet in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Трыялет
triolet in German: Triolett
triolet in French: Triolet (poésie)
triolet in Georgian: ტრიოლეტი
triolet in Luxembourgish: Triolett
triolet in Dutch: Triolet
triolet in Polish: Triolet
triolet in Romanian: Triolet
triolet in Russian: Триолет
triolet in Ukrainian: Тріолет
triolet in Walloon: Triyolet
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