Paul Brooke’s threw out a challenge last week, to write a sestina. He posted the results on his blog today. You can read them here, and possibly get an idea of why the sestina is not a popular form!

This is mine

The turning of years

This light too bright, too harsh to see
The turning of the year, the last
Of all the golden leaves. The bird
That sang so sweet, we see it fall
And lie in downy feathers, curled
In its dead grace and our deep sorrow.

Joy is ever cast with sorrow,
Shadows shape the forms we see,
Night-dark is the foil to stars that fall.
What was the first light’s now the last,
Time spins in timeless spirals curled
And teaches songs to each dumb bird.

So few springs of life, the bird
Has no time to spend on sorrow.
From soaring in the blue, to fall
And never rise, it cannot see
An end to flight, the place, the last
Nest where in death it will lie curled.

The gales and leaves of autumn curled
About the trees that shelter bird
And wild things ’gainst the cold. The last
Days, summer-mild, have gone, and sorrow
Hangs in bare black boughs that see,
Leafless, blind, how all their children fall.

Nothing is wasted, each windfall
Is taken home where cubs are curled,
For winter’s long, too far to see
The end and plenty, vole and bird
That spring breeds fat. Times of sorrow
Are still to come. With luck, we’ll last.

It comes to all of us at last,
However high we rise, we fall
And leave this life in grief and sorrow.
Look, in the leaves brown-curled,
Its head beneath a wing, the bird
Another spring will never see.

Joy and sorrow come, though neither last,
And we see red flames dance at each leaf fall,
Spring curled in the heart’s song of each bird.

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.

11 thoughts on “Sestina”

  1. “For winter’s long, too far to see”–that line says so much. I think I may have written one of these once. Always a tour de force, but yours does not seem awkward at all. (K)

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