Maiden by the Sea

She was but a young sweet maiden,
smitten by the power of a gifted book.
Mesmerized by words, her only escape,
imprisoned alone on distant shore.
Her appetite for love, like thunder,
battered her soul like a storm at sea.

She met her swashbuckling pirate at sea
in chapter two’s final scene. “My, maiden!
I proclaim my love for thee,
” he thundered.
Eyes smoldering, as described in the book,
he appraised his lover, as if a shore,
seeking soft inlets for future escape.

His character so real, she craved to escape,
clambered from tower, ran to the sea.
Consumed by lust, she scanned the shore.
I know you are real and I am your maiden!
I long for your lips, and not from a book!
Words so loud, they rose above thunder.

Where are you? Emotions roared over thunder.
Reality struck hard. There was no escape.
The man she adored, merely words in a book.
Irrational now, seeking her pirate by sea,
into the water she strode. Love struck maiden,
seeking Neptune’s comfort far from shore.

Distraught by loss, villagers gathered by shore.
News spread quickly, as hooves thundered,
galloping across the land. Where is our maiden?
they cried in despair. How could she escape?
Bereft of her graces, they prayed by the sea.
Swore at the heavens. Damn ill-fated book!

Town wizards scolded the crowd. Burned the book.
Chanted mantras up and down the shore.
Gone. Their locked away lady-by-the-sea.
She had been theirs. Until words like thunder
roused the rabid escape
of their walled-in maiden.

Book but ashes now, repercussions still thunder.
Guilt forever plagues their shore.  No escape.
She haunts their seas. Storms from a once loved maiden.

My first attempt at a Sestina….the most difficult poetic form I’ve ever tried. Thank you dVerse for the challenge!
Sestina: A 12th century form consisting of 6 stanzas, each having 6 lines; followed by one tercet (3 line stanza).  BUT, that’s not all.
The end-words of the first stanza’s six lines, must appear as end words in each line of the following stanzas, in a particular prescribed order:

Stanza 1: End-words: Line 1 – maiden. Line 2 – book. Line 3 – escape. Line 4 – shore.
Line 5 – thunder, Line 6 – sea.

Remaining 5 stanza’s end-words use end-words from stanza 1 as follows:

Stanza 2:
Line 1 – sea (end word for line 6, stanza 1)
Line 2 – maiden (end word for line 1, stanza 1)
Line 3 – thunder (end word for line 5, stanza 1)
Line 4 – book (end word for line 2, stanza 1)
Line 5 – shore (end word for line 4, stanza 1)
Line 6 – escape (end word for line 3, stanza 1)

Stanzas 3 -6 use the end-words of stanza one’s lines as follows:
Stanza 3
:   3, 6, 4, 1, 2, 5

Stanza 4:   5, 3, 2, 6, 1, 4
Stanza 5:   4, 5, 1, 3, 6, 2
Stanza 6:   2, 4, 6, 5, 3,
One can use a bit of poetic license and use a form of the word – hence thundered.

Stanza 7:  is DIFFERENT. It is a tercet-only three lines. It must contain all six of the end- words for the lines in Stanza 1 in the following order:
Line 1: book (line 2’s end-word) somewhere in the line; and line 5’s end-word thunder as the last word of the tercet’s line 1
Line 2: shore (line 4’s end-word) somewhere in the line; and line 3’s end-word  escape as the last word of the tercet’s line 2
Line 3: sea (line 6’s end-word) somewhere in the line; and line 1’s end-word maiden as the last word of the tercet’s line 3

Confused? Add to that: somehow the poem must make sense! It’s a poetry sudoku!!
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26 thoughts on “Maiden by the Sea

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) August 15, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    I really love the story telling of the maiden and her love from a book… there is something that reminds me of broad-sheet ballads in the story as well. You had didn’t make it easy for yourself with the choice of the words… well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 15, 2019 / 3:47 pm

      Thank you, Bjorn. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you like it! 🙂 Hurrah! I must say, I had a feeling of accomplishment just to get the stanzas done with the right words….and that tercet at the end…I must have rewritten it 30 times! So….am very glad to see your response!


  2. kim881 August 15, 2019 / 3:10 pm

    This is an accomplished sestina, Lill, that also tells an exciting story with a pirate in it – a sestina ballad!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Victoria C. Slotto August 15, 2019 / 3:28 pm

    I enjoyed the mythic character of your narrative sestina, Lillian. Your choice of words played well into the form. One would think that you’d written to this form plenty of times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 15, 2019 / 3:49 pm

      Hah! Well….I’ve written this particular sestina plenty of times…as in rewrite, rewrite, rewrite…most especially those final three lines. I had the devil of a time ending it with the word “maiden.” So glad you enjoyed…and, your words are heaven to me in terms of YES! I did it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Victoria C. Slotto August 15, 2019 / 3:52 pm

        I’ve never rewritten a sestina less than a thousand time…well, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole.


    • lillian August 15, 2019 / 3:49 pm

      Thank you so very much! It truly was a challenging form…so I appreciate your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 15, 2019 / 3:50 pm

      Thank you, Linda. Really appreciate that you liked it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Lee Lyberg August 15, 2019 / 3:53 pm

        Oh, I did! I had a picture in my mind of those old romance novels with a beautiful busty woman and a dark handsome rogue of a man. 🙂


  4. Grace August 15, 2019 / 6:44 pm

    That is one haunting tale of the maiden Lillian. I so enjoyed the tragic ending, with storms to haunt them forever. The envoi ending lines are well done. Cheers!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 16, 2019 / 12:23 pm

      Many thanks, Grace. So glad you liked it!


  5. msjadeli August 15, 2019 / 7:41 pm

    Lillian, your sestina flowed so well, so the rewrites were successful. I love the idea of a person loving a character so much in a book that they want them to come to life. As to the villagers who kept her locked away, they gave her no choice! A mystical and magical story!

    Liked by 1 person

      • msjadeli August 16, 2019 / 1:10 pm

        You are very welcome, Lillian.


  6. The Abject Muse August 16, 2019 / 4:16 am

    This is a wonderful sestina, Lillian. Hell hath no fury! And so seamlessly crafted. I didn’t even notice the repetition. Brava!


    • lillian August 16, 2019 / 12:25 pm

      Thank you thank you!!! You made my morning!😊


  7. robtkistner August 16, 2019 / 11:48 pm

    You done good Lillian… 🙂 Question still remains, other than as a challenge for a prompt, who would ever write a sestina in this day and age? For the heck of it, I went and found a number to read. They are Ok as you go back through the ages — what sounds like forced language to me, sounded less forced then as it fit truer in the prevailing ear.


  8. Glenn A. Buttkus August 17, 2019 / 4:14 pm

    Wow, each of us tackled this rogue of a form with poetic zest. I wrote my first stanza, and then had to live with the end words–which is challenging. Forms do make me feel a bit clunky. I do appreciate how you chipped away at this like an ice sculpture.


  9. lynn__ August 17, 2019 / 11:22 pm

    Artfully wrought, Lillian…a sestina is no small feat and yours tells a fantastical story, a real “page-turner”!


  10. memadtwo August 19, 2019 / 11:58 am

    The caged bird…with a book as key. A wonderful tale. (K)


  11. Rosemary Nissen-Wade August 21, 2019 / 3:38 am

    Wow, that’s one heck of a story and feat of the imagination – as well as a fine attempt at a challenging form.


  12. navasolanature September 4, 2019 / 4:22 pm

    Dear Lilian, I am a bit late coming to this but yours really gave me inspiration that a story can be told in this form. I love the choice of maiden and although the scheme seems like a sudoku your story flows so beautiful. Pure magic!


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