Teaching How to Write a Setset and Sestets Poems

Sestet Activity

When teaching poetry, there are so many poetic devices to learn that some teachers skip over the structure of poetry. The stanza or


the "paragraph" of poetry comes in many lengths. The sestet is one that most students can write easily. In addition, students can show their understanding of rhyme pattern by writing a sestet.

Sestet Stanzas

A sestet is a six line poem or a stanza that has six lines. There are the following types: Burns Stanza, Standard Habbie, English Sestet, Italian Sestet, Spanish Sestet, Wordsworth Sestet, Stave Stanza, Envelope Couplet, Italian Sestet, Rime Couee, Wreathed and Un-wreathed Sestet.

However, the sestet is generally referred to as the last six lines of an Italian sonnet or a stanza in a Sestina. Students who want a challenge should try writing a sestina.

Focus on the Rhyme Pattern

One poetry device that can be taught along with the sestet is rhyme pattern. Rhyme pattern is just as it sounds. The pattern of rhyming words at the end of lines.

The original Sicilian Sestet may be an easy form for students to try writing because they do not have to worry about meter or rhythm. The later versions use iambic terameter or pentameter, but students can just focus on the rhyme pattern, which is a,b,a,b,a,b.

Student can use letters to show the rhyme pattern of a poem, like in this example poem:

Darkness snaked into the hall A

Shadows danced and hid from the eye B

A glowing dot grew into a monstrous ball A

Screams reached up to the sky B

Breathing slowed to a crawl A

Light exploded from on high B

Teach Students How to Write a Sicillian Sestet Poem

Teachers can follow the three simple steps to show students how to write a Scicillian Sestet poem.

Step 1 — Explain the sestet and rhyme pattern.

Step 2 — Ask students to think of a time when they felt a strong emotion. The example poem shows one of fear. Other emotions are as follows: acceptance, anger, anticipation, courage, disgust, guilt, hate, joy, love, sadness, surprise, satisfaction, etc.

Step 3 — Assign students to write a six line poem following the Sicilian Sestet pattern or another chosen rhyme pattern. The poem should focus on the strong emotion they chose in step two.

Students can share their best sestet poems in the comment section of this article. Or, they can share the poems in class with their classmates.

This post is part of the series: Poetry Stanza Lessons

These poetry lessons all focus on a type of stanza in poetry. The activities can be introductory lessons or made into a small unit of study.
  1. Cute Couplets: Writing Couplets Lesson
  2. Quirky Quatrain Poetry Lesson
  3. Poem Lesson: Sizzling Sestets