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Types of Poem Forms - French Triolet Poems

Updated on February 12, 2012

The first born poem child of the Rondeau poetic form, the Triolet (triplet) is believed to first appeared in the late 13th century. The early Triolet poems were of very serious themes and substance (primarily religious) and strictly adhered to certain rules, such as: There must be only ten syllables to each line. As this form of poetry became more popular the rules for this French poem form changed over time, as most do. Today, the Triolet can be varied in the number of syllables to each line, with eight or six syllables being the most popular. Additionally, the Triolet poem need not be of such serious themes and about a wider variety of topics. Indeed, in today’s modern world this poem form has given way to often humorous subjects.

One of the best parts about learning to write Triolet poems is the fact these poems are short little ditties for those of the more witty mind bend. This is among the easiest French fixed forms of poetry to write.

Emblema - Source: Mel D'artagnan, Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
Emblema - Source: Mel D'artagnan, Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

Rules For Writing French Triolet Poems

The rhyme scheme is:

1R, 2R, 1, 1R, 1, 2, 1R, 2R

(Remember: the repeated lines appearing are 1R and 2R).

Additionally each Triolet has:

  • Eight line stanza which contain two rhymes and two refrains.
  • Five of the eight lines are repeated (refrain) lines.
  • The first line repeats repeats at both the fourth and seventh lines.
  • The second line repeats at the eighth line.
  • Triolets are generally but not always in iambic tetrameter, in which the first syllable in each two-syllable pair is unstressed, and the second stressed.

Rhyme Scheme Variation For French Triolet Poems

These days, writers of Triolets often publish them where each identical line is started with being capitalized and each rhyming line begins with either the same lower case letter or capital letter. This variation was never done in the past.

I decided to write a short triolet, opening with the couplet of:

1R There never was an "us" I used to cry

2R Our babies and me still in love with you

That done, I was able to write the fourth, seventh, and eighth lines quite easily, as shown below.

3 xxxxxxxxxxx

4 There never was an "us" I used to cry

5 xxxxxxxxxxx

6 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

7 There never was an "us" I used to cry

8 Our babies and me still in love with you

That left me with only three triolet lines to be written. Once this was done my French triolet poem was easily finished with the following results:

Divorce de Napoléon et Joséphine - Josephine fainting after being told by Napoleon he will decree a divorce - Source: Bosselman - Chasselat, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Divorce de Napoléon et Joséphine - Josephine fainting after being told by Napoleon he will decree a divorce - Source: Bosselman - Chasselat, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

When I Was Petrified

There never was an "us" I used to cry

Our babies and me still in love with you

Gloria told me "I will survive" not die

There never was an "us" I used to cry

So goodbye our marriage we did untie

Pretending forever to begin anew

There never was an "us" I used to cry

Our babies and me still in love with you.

Jerilee Wei © 2011

I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor

Examples of Well-Known Triolet Poets

  • Robert Bridges (1844-1930) “Untitled”
  • Henry Cuyler Bunner "Triolet"
  • Frances Cornford (1886-1960) “To a Fat Lady Seen from the Train”
  • Jean Froissart (1337-1404) “Rondel” (a mislabeled title)
  • Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) “How Great My Grief”

Comments

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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Deborah Brooks! I appreciated it.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow.. thanks for the info... I never knew this.. I voted up...

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Storytellersrus! It's a good one to start with.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Nice. I am going to start with this one, as the other hub style I landed upon is too serious for what I wish to write immediately. I am going to have to visit all of your poetry hubs before I am finished, and try them all! Thanks.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks sam-eg! The triolet fixed form is quick and easy I think.

    • sam-eg profile image

      sam-eg 

      7 years ago from Happy Land

      Thx for your share, it was helpful explaining and simplifying about the French triolet type, which I didn’t know about it before reading your hub, I found it easy and with a simple technique that will assist in writing poems, truly interesting hub ... voted up:)

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Hello, hello! You'd be surprised at how many people have never been exposed to the triolet.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      I have heard of it and therefore it was very ingteresting. Thank you.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks rai2722! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • rai2722 profile image

      rai2722 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the explanation on french triolet poem. Really enjoyed reading it.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      Me too! It is just so much easier to understand then!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks AudreyHowitt! I think examples are important.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      Interesting form! And thank you for providing examples!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Peggy W! I find it a very nice fixed form to work in.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Very interesting learning about this form of poetry. Thanks!

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