A triolet (// or US //) is a stanza poem of eight lines. Its rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB and often 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 poetry - the earliest written examples are from the late 13th century. The triolet is a close cousin of the rondeau, another French verse form emphasizing repetition and rhyme. Some of the earliest known triolets composed in English were written by Patrick Cary, briefly a Benedictine at Douai, who purportedly used them in his devotions. British poet Robert Bridges reintroduced the triolet to the English language, where it enjoyed a brief popularity among late-nineteenth-century British poets.
An effective conventional triolet achieves two things; firstly the naturalness of the refrain and secondly the alteration of the refrain's meaning.
- "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 relatively rare form.
- How Great My Grief by Thomas Hardy
- Triolet by Robert Bridges
- Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther by A. E. Stallings
- The Country Wife (a double triolet) by Dana Gioia
- Triolet by Wendy Cope
- Valentine by Wendy Cope
- Worker Bees by Gail White(Dave Baldwin)
- Gilda & Johnny, a triolet sequence by Antonia Clark
- The Triolet by Don Marquis
- Examples of Triolet
- Triolet Workshop