I tried to bring you this entry last week. However, I was writing on a mobile device instead of a PC because of time constraints, and the poetry wouldn’t format properly. As such, I’ve now made the necessary corrections and presented the entry to you as it should have been.

Most of my poetry comes out as free verse, but every so often, I find myself writing to a particular form. One of these is the triolet.

The triolet is an eight-line verse with the first line repeated as lines 4 and 7, while the second line is repeated as the eighth. Here’s my piece Speed Limit, which was published about five years ago:

Don’t follow the speed limit sign
Instead swap your stroll for a run
Always incline, never decline
Don’t follow the speed limit sign
It doesn’t all end with a nine
Stop fretting how late you’ve begun
Don’t follow the speed limit sign
Instead swap your stroll for a run

However, while the form was definitely correct, there was something about the order of the lines that was bothering me. Only in the last month or so have I been able to place my finger on the problem.

Regardless of whether you’re writing in free verse or using a form, it’s conventional to start and end with your strongest lines, as readers pay most attention to these: they’re hooked from the start, while the last thought leaves an impact.

But the traditional triolet also makes the second line act as an ending, and it’s difficult to make that as equally strong as without overshadowing the first line.

My solution was to vary the form by inverting the last two lines. Grammatically, it can be more difficult to make the lines flow when swapped around, but it means a strong opening can also be reused for that all-important final line. If I were writing Speed Limit today, it would probably look like this:

Don’t follow the speed limit sign
Instead swap your stroll for a run
Always incline, never decline
Don’t follow the speed limit sign
It doesn’t all end with a nine
Stop fretting how late you’ve begun
Instead swap your stroll for a run
Don’t follow the speed limit sign

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