The first tercet
conveys the "seize the day" warning, which the second tercet
goes conspicuously beyond old age to argue in the final verse that the lady and all that surrounds her will end up as "earth, smoke, dust, shadow, nothingness.
In the final tercet
, the poet chooses not to use the simple past (I saw adulthood) but instead crafts a complex temporal landscape that hinges on a particular temporal location, "that day," in which a traversing of worlds was possible.
As we see in the tercets
, Petrarch is figured as an intellectual, rather than a love-sick poet:
The following tercets
, however, seem to amplify a desire for the seasons or cycles of earlier poems to continue their (re)turnings:
For reasons having to do with the tension between the rhyme and strophic structures--that is, the gap between the somewhat repressed sizains organizing the rhyme structure and the tercets
into which the stanzas are graphically distributed, a gap creating a persistent phenomenon of phonetic and prosodic deferral--as well as with the constitutive brevity of the metrical mix of octosyllables and quadrisyllables, interlinear and interstrophic enjambments are the prosodic rule rather than the exception in "Les Effares.
There are more tercets
, in part, because there is more terza rima, which I sort of got a crush on, and there are (I'm embarrassed to say) four villanelles in this book, and those require tercets
, and then there's that long poem, which is in tercets
just because it is, or for the reason lots of long poems end up in tercets
, because they're following Dante into one hell or another.
I thought that I could not do it so easily And now I'm midway through the second quatrain, And once I find myself in the first tercet
, There will be nothing in the quatrains to fear.
This allows the visible trundle of the tercets
groups to become markedly striated by rapid sequences of colons--"stentorian: tendentious: sonorous: orotund: the moon's up" (99.
In the quatrains Adam recalls the Garden of Eden yet questions its true existence, given that it has become only a vague memory for him, perhaps a dream, but he goes on to affirm its reality ("Pero yo se que existe y que perdura") only to declare in the volta verse that initiates the tercets
that despite its existence, Heaven is no longer accessible to him: his punishment has banished him from Heaven and relegated him to earth and civil ("incestuosas") wars.
Written in tercets
, each third line alternates between "I greet the dawn and then I grind again" and "Day in, day out, I work the mill and grind the grain.
Katherine Cottle's winning entry, "45 Days Clean," deals with drug addiction and recovery by working within the complex demands of the villanelle, a fixed form consisting of five tercets
and a final quatrain.
The poems are varied in style-sometimes a sequence of poems that align on the page as a series of tidy tercets
or couplets, and then, when shape and rhythm bring consistency and comfort, a surprise in style.