Terza Rima Definition

Terza rima is a verse form composed of iambic tercets (three-line groupings). The rhyme scheme for this form of poetry is "aba bcb cdc, etc." The second line of each tercet sets the rhyme for the following tercet, and thus supplying the verse with a common thread, a way to link the stanzas. The only time the form changes is at the conclusion of the poem, where the terza rima ends with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet (like d or dd). There is no limit to the number of lines in terza rime.


A Terza Rima is a type of poem which is made up of three-line stanzas linked to each other by rhyme. Each stanza, or tercet, introduces a new rhyme in its middle line, while the first and third lines continue a rhyme from the previous stanza. So the rhyme scheme is going to be A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, and so on.

Typically a terza rima poem ends with a single line that repeats the rhyme of the middle line from the last tercet, or a couplet with two lines that both use the last middle line's rhyme: B-C-B, C-D-C, D, or DD.

The Italian term, literally "third rhyme", indicates that this form is much more widespread in Italian, a language where rhymes are more plentiful than in English. Dante introduced the form in the 14th century, and his Divine Comedy and Inferno are the most celebrated examples of terza rima. English poets have used it successfully, however, including Chaucer, Milton, Shelley and T.S. Eliot. 

Terza Rima Poem Example

 

"Ode to the West Wind." by Percy Bysshe Shelley's

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintery bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

 

Top 5 Terza Rima Poem Examples

PMPoem TitlePoetFormCategories
Premium Member Poem - Peace, Love, and Gods Greatest Gift - Smile, Sunshine Terza Rimacelebration, christmas, december, inspiration,
Premium Member Poem The Moon, The Swan, The Rose Smile, Sunshine Terza Rimabeautiful, bird, moon, rose,
Premium Member Poem Beauty Kisses The Beast mcdaid, liam Terza Rimaangel, beautiful, beauty, butterfly,
Premium Member Poem - Sparkling Blossoms In One Star - Smile, Sunshine Terza Rimabeauty, dream, happiness, love,
Premium Member Poem - Fight With Dragons And Wolves - Smile, Sunshine Terza Rimachange, conflict, faith, perspective,

Other Terza Rima Definition

[n] a verse form with a rhyme scheme: aba bcb cdc, etc.


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See Also...

poem, verse form

Misc. Definitions

\Ter"za ri"ma\ [It., a third or triple rhyme.] A peculiar and complicated system of versification, borrowed by the early Italian poets from the Troubadours.

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