by Lloyd Schwartz
never . . .
A sestina consists of thirty-nine lines broken into six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (called its envoy or tornada). The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time. English sestinas are usually written in iambic pentameter or another decasyllabic meter.
Although unconventional, Schwartz’s poem “Six Words” follows the general structure of a sestina. I think that he is trying to say that in the large scope of things, words are easily lost and lose their meaning. His six words are interchanged meaninglessly throughout the poem leading the reader to think if they are different in the first place.
Many little caesuras (a momentary interruption or break) occur throughout the poem to suggest the objectivity of meaning. As a reader, I do not know what situations these quick answers refer to since some seem to be questions and some seem to be answers. However there does not have to be an intended purpose. Schwartz is able to get his theme across by defying the traditional sestina, known for its rigid structure. He purposefully chooses only six words to convey a sense of excitement, spontaneity, and unknown.
8 years ago