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The Last Song: A Sestina

Updated on October 21, 2016
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Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.

The Last Song: A Sestina



Driving aimlessly, I see you in this rain soaked night

Fade in; fade out of my screen, wipers wipe like my memory

Car radio croons melancholy, a late night love song

My hands grip the steering wheel, knuckles hurt

Headlights blink, stare, shimmer, dazzle, whizz past

As I make my way, meander, where to, I know not



A constant sibilant whisper in my heart will not

Stop as the road ahead tapers into the night

The paths of my present flooded with the past

Rained with incessant torrents of your memory

Why tell, Why me, why now, why does it hurt

Is it the rain, the road, the hazy lights, or the song?



The words crawl up my veins from the song

Like an addicts fix, guilty pleasure, I want it not

I miss it, I love it, I hate it, want to stop the hurt

It brings, deep into my being every night

Is it me, you, or the whisper of your memory?

The road takes me backward into past



Recollections are always sunnier in the past

When you were my muse, my beat, my song

The edited highlights of my joyful life’s memory

I was infused, enthused, amused, I worried not

You took all of me in you, all day, and all night

The pleasure was intense, pure love does hurt



I can’t blame you, as I author my own hurt

I weep, knee deep, wallow in the flooded past

While sunshine wipes shadows, it’s the night

That engulfs and torments with its love song

I could seek the light, the crowds, warmth- not

Drive back into alleyways of my heart, my memory



I press down on the pedals, speed wipe the memory

Rush the car fast over the watery lane, the hurt

Coils inside as the song fades and ends, not

Completely, as it echoes in me from the past

This heart, this love, this thought, this song

I want them banished into the cursed night



The end of memory, as present collides with past

Searing pain blooms, hurt, shrill echoes of your song

I see you wave, not sure, as I fade into the night.

......................................................................................................


Docmo

© Mohan Kumar 2012



The 'Ode' less Travelled


It is that English Treasure, the persistent polymath, Stephen Fry who uses the phrase 'Ode less travelled'. His words pithily capture the love hate relationship the poetry world has had with the Sestina. It has a reputation of being a harsh mistress. Demanding, strict, repetitive, seeking orderly chaos. While the structure can be confining to many, it is also strangely liberating. The rigid demands of the spiral make us reuse words to convey new thoughts and new messages.


There are those who hate it much. So much so it was rarely seen in the poetry world for three centuries since its arrival in English in the 16th century. any anthology that covers the period between the 16th and the 19th will not contain a single Sestina. While the sonnets and other forms enjoyed much following, the dark dominatrix of the poetry world didnt have much until the arrival of the 19th century when the English poets discovered its merits. It has since enjoyed a renaissance, even here in hubpages, as you can see from some great examples.



The Sestina Spiral

The Sestina Spiral
The Sestina Spiral | Source

...a Sestina ( or a Sextina/ Sextain) is a structured poem consisting of 6 stanzas of 6 lines each followed by a three line envoi or a tornada. The poem thus has 39 lines.

What is a Sestina?


Originating in the Romance languages, attributed to a 12th century troubadour Arnaut Daniel, a Sestina ( or a Sextina/ Sextain) is a structured poem consisting of 6 stanzas of 6 lines each followed by a three line envoi or a tornada. The poem thus has 39 lines.


The structure however is ( depending on how you feel about it) the magic happens. The last words of each of the lines in the first stanza ( lets number them 1,2,3,4,5,6) will have to be the same end words in each of the other stanzas in a varying , non repeating pattern. The table above shows how these word patterns repeat in each verse or stanza. The first line of every new stanza ends in the same word as the last line of the previous an then does a rotatory spiral. (see illustration above)


Thus verse two has to have the end words in the order 6,1,5,2,4,3 and so on. The envoi ( the last three lines) contains all the end words but each line has two of them, one anywhere in the middle and the other in the end. There could be a prescribed pattern to the envoi also, usually 1-3-5 or 5-3-1. The words 2,4,6 ( or 6,4,2) can occur in the middle of each line in that order.


Confused? Hopefully my poem above should illustrate by example.

Why I like the Sestina?


Call me a masochist, but I wanted to try this challenge ( and challenging it was!). The Sestina , due to its prescriptive formatting, is meant to help capture distress, deprivation or dissonance. It was used mostly as a 'complaint' poem or a call of distress. This served me well. For years I've been haunted by lost souls that cannot forget a lost love. The sheer helplessness against such a loss, the effect it has on one is hard to capture without descending into cliche. I hope my humble attempt above goes somewhat in capturing this distress...


Have a try yourself, dear reader. It makes you use thought muscles other formats may not!


Thank You!



Thank you for reading this poem and do leave some comments and feedback below. Please vote as appropriate if you like what you read.


Source

© 2012 Mohan Kumar

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    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 4 years ago from The Shire

      Docmo, this is a beautiful poem. The image of words crawling up your veins to create a kind of "misery rush" is inventive and vivid.

      I wasn't familiar with the sestina, but I prefer structured poetry and will have to try it.

      Thanks for my poetry snack this evening!

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      The first comment is always the one that we wait in trepidation. I am grateful it's one of enjoyment and appreciation. This is my first Sestina, a hard but worthwhile exercise. Thank you very much, molly!

    • cruelkindness profile image

      cruelkindness 4 years ago from an angle view.

      The Last Song: A Sestina was a roller coaster ride my heart just exited. Captivating the essence of its bright red persona in this damp cold world.

      Loved It

      cruelkindness STAMP

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

      I also love the Sestina, you have done a wonderful job not only creating a memorable Sestina but also with your description of the form. Thank you. Jamie

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikkij504gurl 4 years ago from Louisiana

      I really enjoyed this. I like learning new styles of poetry. I had never heard of this one before, and I tried my hand at it, it can get a little confusing as to which word goes where, especially at the 3 end lines. But by golly I do believe I've got it! lol I will post my finished product soon and I hope you will look over it and let me know How I have done. :) thank you for introducing me to this new type of poem, it really does make you use those thought muscles.

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      thank you, cruelkindness, appreciate your visit and comments.Glad you liked the ride.

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Jamie, really appreciate your visit and comments. Thank you!

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Nikki, I am glad this has inspired you to write your own. I am looking forward to your Sestina. Really appreciate your visit!

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikkij504gurl 4 years ago from Louisiana

      Its up and posted! Thanks Docmo. ALways a pleasure reading your hubs :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is great. I like that you explain what is a sestina after your poem too. Well done and so thorough.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @Nikki- great work, loved it!

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @Chritywrites- thank you! I came across the form 3 days ago and wanted to try it out... appreciate your visit & comment.

      BTW thanks for being my 500th follower! You got me a new badge of honor!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Woot woot! That's awesome :)

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Woot woot indeed ;-)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you, Docmo, for the introduction to a new (to me) art concept. What I like most about it is not the complex formatting of this poetry style, but your ability to make it your's. Once again, your curiosity and intellect forges ahead, fearless in every new challenge. And, once again, pure, Docmo genius emerges uncompromised. I respect, admire and am humbled by your energy, fearlessness, talent and especially your ability to remain true to pure "Docmo". It doesn't get any better than that.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I loved the concept, driving in the rain, unable to forget a past love, a love/hate existence. The formula for this type of poetry appears difficult. I loved it. You are a gifted writer. Thank you again..

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Thank you dear Amy, as always your kind, generous words and unconditional support make me smile. Your unbridled enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity always make me respect your comments and visits. Thank you so much! I feel unworthy of the 'genius' label but I do love it anyway.

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Dear Ruby, I can always trust your opinions and look forward to your visit and comments. As 'always' you dont disappoint me. Thank you! What can a boy do when he is called 'gifted' apart from blush shyly.I ain't worthy.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      You conquered the Sestina challenge wonderfully well, Docmo, as did Derdriu in an earlier hub. Very beautiful and stylish, my man. This is a difficult format. Voted up, naturally.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

      I was not familiar with this type of poetry. It seems quite challenging. However, reading this wonderful poem, I see that you have done a great job and I loved it. You're very gifted. Voted up, beautiful, interesting, awesome and shared.

    • shimmering Dawn profile image

      shimmering Dawn 4 years ago

      Lovely Sestina, as always your poetry is picture perfect with emotions and words. Have a blessed day.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Thank you, drbj. Derdriu's hub was an inspiration. It was difficult to weigh up how the repetition panned out over the course of the poem. I am glad you like it. appreciate your visit, as always.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      A great Sestina! Very beautifully written and excellently put!

      Appeals to the inner self

      Great poetry my Friend:)

    • Lot Rillera profile image

      Lot Rillera 4 years ago from Philippines

      wow this is a great poem, happy to follow you, I, myself love poetry writings too, voted up and awesome !

    • cruelkindness profile image

      cruelkindness 4 years ago from an angle view.

      Docmo my inbox keeps reminding me of you presence.

      Tell your message I said "Hats off to you".

      Cruelkindness (Subliminally Thoughtless)

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @rahul - thank you for your visit and appreciation!

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @Lot Rillera- thank you very much. Will have to check out your poetry soon. Much appreciate the visit.

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @cruelkindness- maybe you have your button ticked automatically to follow all the hubs you have commented on? Is this why you are being persistently reminded? Thank you kindly.

    • cruelkindness profile image

      cruelkindness 4 years ago from an angle view.

      My inbox receives others but he spoke to me about yours is particular.

      Everyone keeps commenting on your hub which means i'm not the only one who felt this way.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Aww.. I have a friend in your inbox. Thank you!

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks you SanneL for your wonderful comment and for generously sharing this hub with your followers. You are very kind!

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Thank you Shimmering Dawn, for your visit and comments.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 4 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi Docmo :)

      Lovely poem.

      I really enjoyed it.

      And thank you for the very interesting explanation of the Sestina. I am intrigued :)

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Hi Trish, thanks for your visit and comment. I am glad it has sparked a sense of intrigue- maybe you will be writing one soon. I love the way we all learn so much from each other.

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 4 years ago from Australia

      Oh, Docmo, I have never heard of the sestina form of poetry, how narrow is my world!!! I read your poem and thought man, this guy is awesome, the rhythm, the emotion, I was mesmerised by the images and feelings and swept along in a trance and then your explanation of the sestina!! You are amazing, to fit that emotion into a set form and make it work so well, my hat is off to you and I bow deeply!!! You see I can't even get haiku right so I have so much admiration and respect for what you have achieved in this poem!!

      Truly inspiring. I look forward to reading more of your work. My votes and best wishes to you.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant !!!

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @Fennelseed- thank you very much for your visit and generous comments. I am delighted you liked this challenging piece of work. This is my first try at a Sestina and judging by the kind reception, I am sure wont be the last. Much appreciated!

    • Docmo profile image
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      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      @Eddy, really glad you like it!

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 4 years ago

      You have really done well in this excellent example of a sestina. Thank you for giving the readers a guide to write sestinas! I really think the story, you gave, intensifies with each stanza and then you slowly bring us down to the conclusion, with enjoyable emotions, from the 6th stanza and the tornada. Well done!

      -KD

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Absolutely awesome! I was not familiar with the Sestina but it is so powerful. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of my seat as the emotions were so powerful. Very well done.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Keith, thanks for your appreciation.this is my first attempt at this format and I realised as I was writing it that the repeat use of words was actually more liberating than confining. It allowed me to explore the emotion and intensify it. You have a great head for poetry!

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Pamela, thanks very much for your visit and comments. I wanted to tell a story using this format and I hope this was successful in doing so.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      This is a beautiful poem with great imagery. I've never written a sestina; it must be very challenging. I did try my hand at a tritina recently. It's similar to a sestina but much simpler with only three three-line stanzas. That was enough of a challenge to me. So hats off to you. Great job.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Deborah, thank you for your visit and comments- I've never written a Sestina before this one - it was hard but enjoyable- I'll probably go for the tritina next time though!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Sestina is something I have never written. But then there are lots of poetry forms which I have never attempted.

      I loved the concept, and the descriptions.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks Vinaya. Appreciate your visit.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I have never attempted a Sestina, looks complicated... maybe one day.

      You however have mastered it perfectly, and I love the way your poem flows. The imagery you have created with your words is truly amazing. The feel, sounds, touch all take me there in that moment.

      Voting up

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikkij504gurl 4 years ago from Louisiana

      Awesome Rosemay. Thanks so much! I'm glad you get all that from this.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Rosemay - thanks for your wonderful, warm, wise comments! Appreciate it much.

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikkij504gurl 4 years ago from Louisiana

      I really liked it. It was fun to do. Hope you can check out mine as well.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Mohan (Docmo),

      I've just read another brilliant Hub...your sestina, the images, the explanation of this very difficult, yet intriguing, art form.

      I've come to expect excellence from you. Once again, I'm not disappointed.

    • weestro profile image

      Weestro 4 years ago from Virginia

      Another great one Docmo, so vivid with your words! Voted up!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I learned what a Sestina is and I thank you Docmo. Wonderful words that flowed. I'll have to come back and read it again while it's raining :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I loved your poem, but I am useless at different forms of poetry, I just write poetry as I see it, and don't even try to do this! lol! The Sestina is something I hadn't heard of and you did it very well, cheers nell

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Beautiful poem. The sestina is completely new to me. It has a wonderful complexity to it. Like mathematics - a subject that I am beyond horrible at but hav a huge appreciation for. I will have to give this a try.

      Thank you for sharing your talent and knowlge.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I've never attempted to write a Sestina poem, and I probably never will. It seems very complicated. You did a beautiful job with this poem. When I read the poem, I though that was the end , but then you went on to explain how to write a poem like this. That was great.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      The Sestina can be frustrating and unforgiving, but so satisfying when you've completed your first. I recently wrote my first Sestina, and I'm in no rush to start my second :) your Sestina is remarkable, very beautifully done.

      Now that I've read your hub I'll have to attempt another, this time about loss love. Many thanks for sharing this.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Thank you Daisy- glad you liked the Sestina!

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Weestro, Sunshine, Nell : thank you so much!

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      Dana: Glad I was able to introduce something new!

      May615: Hopefully the explanation will help out if you ever think about trying it. Its not an easy one and can sometimes make it feel less spontaneous.

    • Docmo profile image
      Author

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      tobusiness: you're so right. the satisfaction when it was completed was immense. Also I like the way it expresses certain emotions repetitively enhancing the effect I wanted from the poem - like a crescendo.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Mohan (Docmo),

      I returned to read your brilliant sestina another time, and share it, once again.

    • wayne barrett profile image

      Wayne Barrett 4 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Very emotional, beautiful poem. And thank you for the introduction to sestina. This is something that I will definitely have to try my hand at. From what I see in the comments I expect we will see a lot of sistina's attempted.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Mohan (Docmo),

      Your article contains a great explanation of the sestina form of poetry. Thanks for publishing it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Doc, regardless of the style, I love the poem. It reads well and paints a picture. I know a lot has been posted on HP about the various poetry styles lately, but I'm frankly not interested in the challenge. I like poetry that I can follow, makes me think, paints a picture and has emotion behind it. That's also the way I write poetry. I guess I'm just a poetic rebel!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      You've certainly captured distress but so beautifully. I can feel the words of the song in my veins too!

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

      thoughtfulgirl2 3 years ago from East Coast

      Hmmmm, I forgot all about sestinas, a very compelling way to write. In this age of IM, endless dippy blogs and sometimes lack of true talent, let us not forget how to write!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Wonderful information, fascinating read and great poetry

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikkij504gurl 2 years ago from Louisiana

      Thanks for sharing a link to my poem. I just noticed that you did that. I was just sharing Villanelle and sestina poems with someone. I am thinking of writing another one of each. :)

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