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lapilofu's avatar

Favorite sestinas?

Asked by lapilofu (4305 points ) July 22nd, 2010

I’m interested in sestinas lately. I find the form very beautiful. McSweeney’s has a wonderful page of sestinas but it’s not enough for me. I need more. Do you have any favorite sestinas?

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6 Answers

lapilofu's avatar

And I guess as long as I’m asking, I’ll share. Here’s a great one someone showed me yesterday:

Sestina: Bob

According to her housemate, she is out with Bob
tonight, and when she’s out with Bob
you never know when she’ll get in. Bob
is an English professor. Bob
used to be in a motorcycle gang, or something, or maybe Bob
rides a motorcycle now. How radical of you, Bob—

I wish I could ride a motorcycle, Bob,
and also talk about Chaucer intelligently. Bob
is very tall, bearded, reserved. I saw Bob
at a poetry reading last week—he had such a Bob-
like poise—so quintessentially Bob!
The leather jacket, the granny glasses, the beard—Bob!

and you were with my ex-girlfriend, Bob!
And you’re a professor, and I’m nobody, Bob,
nobody, just a flower-deliverer, Bob,
and a skinny one at that, Bob—
and you are a large person, and I am small, Bob,
and I hate my legs, Bob,

but why am I talking to you as if you were here, Bob?
I’ll try to be more objective. Bob
is probably a nice guy. Or that’s what one hears. Bob
is not, however, the most passionate person named Bob
you’ll ever meet. Quiet, polite, succinct, Bob
opens doors for people, is reticent in grocery stores. Bob

does not talk about himself excessively to girlfriends. Bob
does not have a drinking problem. Bob
does not worry about his body, even though he’s a little heavy. Bob
has never been in therapy. Bob,
also, though, does not have tenure—ha ha ha—and Bob
cannot cook as well as I can. Bob

never even heard of paella, and if he had, Bob
would not have changed his facial expression at all. Bob
is just so boring, and what I can’t understand, Bob—
yes I’m talking to you again, is why you, Bob,
could be more desirable than me. Granted, Bob,
you’re more stable, you’re older, more mature maybe but Bob …

(Months later, on the Bob-front: My former girlfriend finally married Bob.
Of Bob, she says, “No one has taken me higher or lower than Bob.”
Me? On a dark and stormy sea of Bob-thoughts, desperately, I bob.)

— Jonah Winter

Jeruba's avatar

Wonderful, @lapilofu. Thank you for sharing that.

MaryW's avatar

What a super last line on the poem.
Thank you I am going to have fun with this new to me poetry. I can not wait to show my grandkids.
What fun with language.
Sorry I do not have an answer for you BUT you gave me a literary lurvey pressy!

MacBean's avatar

I know someone who writes fanfiction in sestina form. She’s rather good at it, I think.

Jeruba's avatar

Here’s a helpful definition of the form.

The example above is a special case in which all the lines end with the same word.

@MacBean, yes, you’re right, she is.

growler's avatar

Neil Gaiman wrote an excellent sestina called Vampire Sestina in his collection Smoke and Mirrors.

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