Terza Rima

The terza rima was developed by a major Italian poet in the Middle Ages, Durante “Dante” Alighieri (1265-1321). English language poets who wrote terza rima were Lord Byron, John Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and — much late r— Robert Frost and T.S. Elliott.

A terza rima is a series of triplets (3-line stanzas) with an interlocking rhyming pattern which often ends in a single line or a couplet. There isn’t any restriction regarding the number of stanzas which may be used.

The rhyming pattern for a terza rima is as follows:

a – b – a … b – c – b … c – d – c …

d – e – d … e – f – e … f – f

One of the best known terza rima, She Walks in Beauty, was written by Lord Byron. It is said that he wrote the poem about his cousin Mrs. Wilmot Horton, whom he had just met. Mrs. Horton was in mourning, wearing a black dress with spangles on it.