Sestina and double sestina

Sestina is an old poetry format. There are a lot of variations (with rhyming and meter) but common to all is simply that ending word of each line repeats in certain variable order at each stanza. I experimented with the sestina because I read some very nice sestinas written by John Ashbery. I think sestina brings structure and movement to a poem. When words repeat in a predetermined pattern new juxtapositions emerge which I like.

To my knowledge two basic sestina formulas exist, normal and double sestina. Normal sestina has six stanzas, each consisting of six lines, and a three line ending stanza called envoy. It is easy to find a formula for the normal sestina, but there appears to be several formulas for a double sestina. My first try with a double sestina was to use John Ashbery's formula from a sestina in Flow Chart. Ashbery used words from Charles Swinbyrne's The Complaint of Lisa. First I used the same word pattern, replacing Swinbyrne's/Ashbery's line endings with my own, but I was unable to figure out the logic behind the formula. The normal sestina format can be deducted in a beautiful way using a spiral (see figure 1). Arabic numerals in the figure indicate ending words of a line, roman numerals indicate the stanza. When you use the spiral to the line endings of the first stanza, you get the repeat pattern for the line ending words for the second stanza. When you apply the spiral again for the second stanza, you get the repeat pattern for the line ending words for the third stanza. Repeat this until you have six stanzas.

Figure 1

Because I could not find one definitive formula for a double sestina, I tried the same method to create a formula for a double sestina (Figure 2). I do not claim that this is the right authoritative formula, but it is one way to find out the ending words if you want to avoid the very tedious task of deciphering ending words from existing double sestinas. In fact as far as I know there are no double sestinas written in this unofficial way. If someone knows the system feel free to comment and point to a right direction.

Figure 2

Please note that a proper sestina requires also the envoy, of which there are different patterns. Wikipedia article on sestina.

My previously posted collage/cut-up double sestina uses Swinbyrne's/Ashbery's formula.

You KNOW that your desire is the Desire of the Other, after you have paid your monthly bills.