Poetry challenge #10: Tritina

I said this one would be something to help the brain cells survive the Christmas excesses. It’s a Tritina, introduced to me by Jennifer Knoblock and in the explanation she directed me to, it isn’t nearly as complicated as I’d thought.

I’ll use the example of the tritina I wrote a few days ago.

First, pick three words and number them. In this instance, they are

Copper (1)  stone (2)  silence (3)

These words are your end of line words so your first three line stanza looks like this:

Sun hangs low, a disc of copper (1),

Burning cold as any stone (2),

Winter world in thrall to silence (3).


For your second stanza, the order of the end words is 3, 1,2 so you get:


Upon the lake the swan in silence (3),

Bows her head in reflected copper (1),

Yearns for lost mate, her heart a stone (2).


The third stanza the order of the end words is 2, 3, 1 so you get:


The mountain glowers, cloud-grey stone (2),

Dropping rain into the silence (3),

Swan sails west where the light glows copper (1).


The final stanza is a single line using all the end words in the order 1, 2, 3.

Copper dims, and the stone grows colder, in winter silence the lone swan weeps.

Ideally you would introduce a slight twist in meaning in that last line, but I find that part well nigh impossible. See if you can manage it.

If you want word prompts here are a few:

Snow, starlight, rushing.

Silver, winter, hope.

Harsh, birdsong, falling.

Leaf, wind, russet.

Looking forward to seeing your poems. Post here or leave links when you get a few spare minutes. Have a wonderful next few days and don’t forget to keep writing. That’s important too 🙂

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

58 thoughts on “Poetry challenge #10: Tritina”

  1. I like this. Your example is beautiful. Conor is away tonight, so this is what I’m going to do after Carys has gone to bed. 😁

      1. Haha! How did you know we are having turkey this year? That’s uncanny! We are completely non traditional when it comes to Christmas food, but this year Mal asked for turkey with bacon on top. We must have deprived him all these years lol! What is traditional fare in France on the big day?

      2. Traditionally, the big blow out is on Christmas Eve. Late. Ideally you’re still at table at midnight. Anything’s acceptable as the main course, as long as it’s a bit special and feeds a large number. Chapon, turkey, beef (I don’t know what the cut is in English), leg of lamb, goose, duck are all good. Plus oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, caviare, fancy pâtés, and a Yule Log either an ice cream one or a thing like a Swiss roll with loads of cream over it. Of course you have to drink champagne, a good red wine and a Sauternes or equivalent with the dessert. More red wine with the cheese, Cognac or another alcohol, liqueurs, chocolates etc etc. Then you open the presents and go to bed/pass out.

      3. Sounds good to me! Especially the wine. Especially the food. Midnight might be a problem though…

  2. I’m reeling right now– in a good way.. from the beautiful poem with form explanation and your description of Christmas Eve dinner…thanks for the key word ideas…I may need them 🙂

  3. This one took some thought. Thank you for your fine example.
    (I’m pretty sure this is the eleventh week for your poetry challenge.)
    Here’s mine:

    Waves in Silence

    The voice of a wave
    lapping on the shore
    this night of no wind

    Soothes like no wind
    nor rolling wave
    on a familiar shore

    On this foreign shore
    with nary a trace of wind
    and a voice in each wave

    The calm of a lapping wave stroking the shore speaks more than any wind


  4. You succeeded in getting that shift in meaning in the last line; copper and stone went from physical descriptions of the scene in stanza 1 to descriptions of the swan’s internal landscape in stanza 2, back to physical descriptions with an ominous edge in 3 and in the last line, the physical landscape now reflects the swan’s loss almost as if it’s grieving too. And you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m blabbering on about. 😉 I jumped over to read your piece after your comments on Writersdream9’s tritina. 🙂 Well done tritina by the way!

    1. I see what you mean, though once I’ve written something I can never be sure whether I intended to produce that effect or if it was just fortuitous. I’m glad you think it worked 🙂

      1. Thank you 🙂 It’s true though, the same thing happens with stories. A twist of the plot that is explained by a detail I added earlier without any clear idea, as far as I can remember, of why. Yet it works perfectly as if I knew what was going to happen. And I never know where my stories are going until they get there!


      2. I love when that happens. I am a big fan of circles, cycles and symmetry; I have a running mental list of things mentioned in a given story that I want to repeat in that chapter, volume and the series as a whole. Though the how and when of the repeat usually depends on the new threads that are added. 🙂

      3. That’s why the first edit is such fun, when you know how the story ends, how the characters develop, and you can pick out and highlight those little details that help build the end result.


  5. I envy your talent but love your poetry. I doodle with it on occasion and have had one poem published over the years. I think you would enjoy a blog called Grady’s Landing. Paul Beech can spin words with beauty and ease. I am jealous of him too. :o)

  6. I arrived late to this prompt & am unsure if I grasped the concept. Here’s my example:

    The brightness of the snow,
    gleamed in the starlight.
    My thoughts were rushing.

    Thoughts surged ahead, still rushing,
    while I waited in the silvery white snow,
    embraced by the starlight.

    I stood illuminated only by starlight,
    puzzled by my thoughts rushing,
    & chilled by the blanketing snow.

    Snow glistened, starlight twinkled & yet still my thoughts were rushing.

      1. Well I think my words have got stuck in my pencil and banging it makes my husband frown, *tapping desk* I just can’t get the blighters out… ✏📝

      2. Bother thou head no more
        For my brain can settle the score.
        It won’t give in to coercement
        Not alas even if you are hellbent
        And my body is strewn across the floor.
        “Phha”! See only terrible rhymes will come from my pen this day.

  7. Whoops i have only just spotted the date… my reader is throwing a wobbly. Never mind I will give it a bash any way. “Is there a time machine here abouts”? 😯😕

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