A tercet is a poem of three lines or a stanza of three lines. A tercet can be rhymed or unrhymed. Sometimes a tercet has a rhyme scheme that echoes another set of three lines or another stanza of the poem.
Japanese Haiku poetry is written in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Here are two examples of Haiku:
"The Old Pond," by Matsu Bashu
An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond,
Splash! Silence again.
"In Keyoto" by Basho
hearing the cuckoo,
I long for Kyoto.
Terza Rima is a specific type of rhyme scheme where tercets have an interwoven rhyme scheme: ABA BCB DED EFE Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" is an example of terza rima-this is an excerpt:
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
"Country Song" by Breton is also a poem built on tercets:
Shall we go dance the hay, the hay?
Never pipe could ever play
Better shepherd's roundelay.
Shall we go sing the song, the song?
Never Love did ever wrong,
Fair maids, hold hands all along.
Shall we go learn to woo, to woo?
Never thought ever came to,
Better deed could better do.
Shall we go learn to kiss, to kiss?
Never heart could ever miss
Comfort, where true meaning is.
Thus at base they run, they run.
When the sport was scarce begun.
But I waked-and all was done.
Literary Terms Examples