Monday, August 01, 2016

Monday Poetry Stretch - Octava Real

We've written in the form Ottava Rima a number of times. It is an Italian form that consists of any number of eight line stanzas with the rhyme scheme abababcc. In English, the lines are usually written in iambic pentameter. Ottava rima is generally associated with epic poems (like Don Juan), but can be used for shorter poems.

The Octava Real is the Spanish version of this form. It is also stanzaic and written in any number of octaves. Instead of iambic pentameter, this form is hendecasyllabic, or written in lines of 11 syllables. It carries the same rhyme scheme (abababcc). Like it's counterpart, it is also a narrative form, generally used for telling a story.

So, there's your challenge. I hope you'll join me this week in writing an Octava Real. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. The Place
    Once knew a man who refused to sell his land.
    He was born there and declared it’s where he’d die.
    Army Corps of Engineers had made a plan
    to make a lake for Houston, they were to buy
    up Courtlin County. He did not understand.
    If it were not such a pity he’d have cried.
    Neighbors of five decades mostly took the cash,
    leaving roots of generations turn to ash.

    Armed behind a barricade, windows boarded,
    vowed he’d fight whoever came to take The Place.
    From his post on the roof the view afforded,
    behind him to the north was where face to face
    he’d met his wife first time before they’d courted.
    Over south, right by that tree, he still could trace
    the known boundaries marking off his boyhood world.
    He could see he pole from there, the flag full furled,

    the only motive ever he’d been given,
    to leave The Place behind. Fighting grief and tears,
    the saddest day he’d ever known until then,
    when he left for Nam, not knowing, months? or years?
    or ever again see this piece of heaven.
    So very young they met the call. Battle scars
    returned with them, some not present to the eye:
    shredded minds and hearts, not easy to deny,

    mind ripped from his skull, heart wrenched from his body.
    Although it was his mother did the tending
    (never knowing whether he would ever be
    himself,) it was The Place that did the mending.
    Had it not been for The Place, he’d never see
    the man he was, or what he’d been defending.
    To pay the debt he owed for restoration,
    he’d tried to save The Place from desolation.

    Here’s the sheriff round again. ‘Last call, old man.’
    That you down there Bobby Briggs? ‘It’s me, sir.’
    Come back later, son. ‘No time left.’. Then goddam
    let ‘er flow! Open up them gates! See if I were
    only bluffing! Why, I’ll take you man by man!
    Unlike the other’s he had taught, Briggs Junior
    chose to live where he’d been born. He’d understand.
    Briggs would. Roots mean something to a man.

    Judges, lawyers, engineers all made it clear
    there was no chance in hell for him to save it.
    Sun was setting. The law moved out from the pier
    where they’d tied up. Shallow rippling waves, pink lit,
    dancing ‘cross the fields where he’d once known no fear.
    To him, nothing any longer seemed to fit.
    Man of his word, he would keep the vow he’d made.
    As the boats drew near, the blast began to fade.

    © 2016 Judith Robinson

  2. ...took a bit longer than a week, as you might well understand....
    a real stretch. j