The Rispetto*


Basic features & history of the verse form:
Number of lines 8
Structure / divisions Two quatrains
Rhyme scheme abab / ccdd
Meter In English, often tetrameter
Refrain line or lines No
Time / place of origin 15th-century Italy (Ernest H. Wilkins views the rispetto as having evolved from the Sicilian strambotto)
Medieval / Renaissance poets
  associated with this form
Various Tuscan poets, Gascoigne, Mary Sidney Herbert
Examples written in English
  by or before —
16th century (Gascoigne, Herbert)


An example of a rispetto:

From Gascoigne's Lullaby
by George Gascoigne (c. 1534-1577)

      1  (a)  Sing lullaby, as women do,
      2  (b)  Wherewith they bring their babes to rest;
      3  (a)  And lullaby can I sing to,
      4  (b)  As womanly as can the best.
      5  (c)  With lullaby they still the child,
      6  (c)  And if I be not much beguil'd,
      7  (d)  Full many wanton babes have I,
      8  (d)  Which must be still'd with lullaby.


* In English, the rispetto is usually used as a stanza in a longer poem; for instance, Gascoigne's rispetto, above, forms the first of the poem's six stanzas. While there may have been poets writing in English during this period who used the rispetto form for complete poems, I do not know of any examples.


A Brief Guide to Some Medieval and Renaissance Verse Forms

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Ballade: 8-line stanza | Ballade: 7-line stanza | Ballade: 10-line stanza | Sestina | Villanelle | Triolet | Strambotto | Rispetto | Links

Table, its contents and notes copyright 2004 by Jennifer M. Tom    ( Jennifer Monroe Franson )