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Park Bench - a Ottava Rima Poem

Updated on July 19, 2019
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.


Park Bench

On a park bench, away from the crowd

Overlooking tranquil harbor waters

We first kissed and proclaimed our love aloud

Thus, her heart was mine and my heart was hers.

We’re one as our heads floated like a cloud

Thus our hopes and dreams, together stirs.

In that moment nothing mattered more

As our love, like birds, began to soar.


"As our love, like birds, began to soar"
"As our love, like birds, began to soar" | Source

Ottava Rima, the truncated Sonnet

Ottava Rima is another Italian lyric poem that gain popularity in the English language. It was introduced to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt and was used over the years by notable poets such as Lord Byron (According to numerous accounts, Byron he was in love with this format).

Like so many poems introduced or perfected during the 16th and 17th century, the Ottava Rima used iambic pentameter, which incorporated 10 syllables -- five stressed and five unstressed -- per line. It is comprised of eight lines (hence, the name) and uses the following rhyme scheme:








In many respects, the Ottava Rima is similar to such formats and Rime Royal (which incorporated seven lines with an ABABBCC), and the sonnet. However, this particular format is longer than the Rime Royal by one line and initially shorter than the various sonnet formats. Another way of looking at Ottava Rima is as being a truncated version of a sonnet. The themes are usually similar and the rhyme scheme are nearly identical.

Who was Sir Thomas Wyatt?

Sir Thomas Wyatt is a familiar name in 16th century poetry and literature. And, like many of his contemporaries, he was a diplomat, as well. During the rein of Henry VIII and the Elizabethan era, politicians and leaders had a tendency to dabble in the art of poetry (this includes Queen Elizabeth, too).

Part of the reason diplomats such as Sir Thomas Wyatt wrote poetry was to experiment and heighten the English language. The idea was to raise the language to prestige and transform it into a dominant language that could be used around the world.

Wyatt’s contribution to English literature was importing poetic forms from Europe, creating new rules for them, and incorporating them into the English literary tradition.

His literary work is vast and varied. He took the Italian sonnet from Petrarch and altered the rhyme schemes. Petrarch used an octave (eight lines) with a scheme of abba abba with a sestet (six) with various rhyme schemes. Wyatt used the same scheme for the first eight line, but altered the last six lines to have a scheme of cddc ee (William Shakespeare would later incorporate his own sonnet forms by using what Wyatt had, but making a few alterations – Shakespeare’s version is often known as the English sonnet).

There other forms imported from the Italian and French. Formats such as rondeau, terza rima, and ottava rima. Also he imitated the works of the classical Greek writers Seneca and Horace as well as experimented with epigrams and satires.

Also, Wyatt borrowed heavily from other masters of English Literature. Geoffrey Chaucer was among his favorite. Wyatt used words and phrases that originated from Chaucer.

Wyatt’s political life is interesting, to say the least. He was part of the royal court of King Henry VIII and was rumored have had an affair with one of his wives, Ann Boleyn (something that earned him a stay in the infamous Tower of London on grounds of adultery).

And finally, it appears that Wyatt had an American connection. His great-grandson, Sir Francis Wyatt, became the governor of the Virginia Colony. Thomas Wyatt’s sister, Margaret was the mother of Henry Lee of Ditchley, a line that would eventually include General Robert E. Lee.

© 2014 Dean Traylor


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