Whittled Words – Ovillejo Poem



Welcome to the weekly series, Whittled Words. A series highlighting the innumerable types and styles of poetry to challenge any creative wordsmith. This week’s selection:






The ovillejo is an old Spanish form popularized by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). This 10-line poem is comprised of 3 rhyming couplets (or 2-line stanzas) and a quatrain (or 4-line stanza).


The first line of each couplet is 8 syllables long and presents a question or concept to which the second line responds in 3 to 4 syllables–either as an answer or an echo.


The quatrain is also referred to as a redondilla (which is usually a quatrain written in trochaic tetrameter) with an abba rhyme pattern. The final line of the quatrain also combines lines 2, 4, and 6 together.


As such, here’s how the whole poem comes together (line-by-line):


Line 1: a rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 2: a rhyme in 3-4 syllables

Line 3: b rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 4: b rhyme in 3-4 syllables

Line 5: c rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 6: c rhyme in 3-4 syllables

Line 7: c rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 8: d rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 9: d rhyme in 8 syllables
Line 10: (Line 2) (Line 4) (Line 6)




Examples of Ovillejo Poems:




by Ely the Eel


The clouds curtain the sun.
Oh what fun.

It could bring joy, it might bring pain.
Let it rain.

Oh please, have it fall, let it drop,
never stop.

Into mud puddles we’ll kerplop.
We can be as children at play,
soaked and laughing throughout the day.
Oh what fun, let it rain, never stop.



By P M Wanken

We’re in desperate need of more grace
in this place.

Have we been reduced to primates,
filled with hate?

Guidance can come from God, above;
He is love.

In the end, when push comes to shove,
we’re family to each other:
sister, brother, father, mother.
In this place filled with hate, He is love.




By Taylor Graham

Hear the mountain tumbling its falls?
An echo calls.

Saddle up, line out, reins in glove –
don’t you love

a nicker, pricked ears, windblown tail?
the long trail.

Here’s a history like myth, this tale
that we’ve heard retold all our lives;
its mystery unfading survives.
An echo calls “don’t you love the long trail?”



By Brad Osborne

This is where all the lies have led

A weary head

The words that have torn us apart

A sadder heart

The gift that I hoped from above

A damaged love

The fears manifested thereof

On all loving memories land

Leaving bloody stain behind and

A weary head, a sadder heart, a damaged love



I hope you have enjoyed this entry to the series, Whittled Words. I look forward to your comments, and if you dare, maybe share your own Ovillejo poem. Thanks for reading!




26 Responses to “Whittled Words – Ovillejo Poem”
  1. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    Lovely Brad! A great post with such a profound poem…Really appreciate your art with words, feelings, sentiments, emotions. You are a great poet my friend! I truly am proud that you call me your friend!
    All the best,

  2. Matt P says:

    I love this form, Brad! And I like the poems, I don’t think mine compares to those. I don’t have much time now as I am doing a research project but I’ll still be here to support. Anyway, here’s what I came up with (for now):

    [I don’t have a title, I suck at titles]

    Your sweet loving prince I can’t be
    Don’t like me

    The character I am you want
    When I can’t

    I’m an ice prince, my castle’s blue
    How can you?

    My defenses you can’t pass through
    I don’t want you to it’s freezing
    When you want is ardent loving
    Don’t like me! When I can’t, how can you?

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Matt, That is a great example of the form and well written regardless of how limited your time may have been. You closed powerfully with a probing question leaving the reader to find their own answer. Very engaging and a great technique. Yeah, titles can be tricky sometimes, but I also find it challenging to come up with a great title. Sometimes it can be the hook to get readers to your work. I usually wait till the poem is done and then create a title. Good luck your project and keep writing!

      • Matt P says:

        Thank you, Brad. I’ll keep writing as you continue to inspire me and I’m truly grateful for that.

        And I tell you that when I say I suck at titles, I totally do. Sometimes, I would spend 75 percent of my time writing the body and a quarter thinking of a title.

  3. beth says:

    beautiful form, thanks for the examples, and i love your poetry

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Sometimes finding examples of obscure forms, not under license, can be difficult, but I try to bring my readers the best of what I can find. As for my examples, well as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thank you for thinking mine fits the bill. I always appreciate your support and time!

  4. kristianw84 says:

    I know I’ve said it before, but I really do enjoy learning the different forms of poetry. Thank you for sharing! Once again, your poem is the best of them all, but that’s nothing new. Then again, it’s pretty hard to top my favorite poet here on WordPress!

  5. This is beautiful Brad. A real treat. You are great. I really need some disciple to write like this. Thank you for inspiring and teaching us so many things.
    Have a lovely day my dear friend

  6. Jim Borden says:

    another poetry lesson in the books that closes with a beautiful poem.

    It seems to me that you need to be thinking about the last line of this type of poem while you are writing the first three stanzas. Or perhaps even start with the last line and work backwards. As always, just curious about the process that writers use…

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thanks Jim! With this type of poem, it is easiest to find your final line first and then work backwards. The same could be said for forms that have a refrain where a line is repeated in the poem. It is not unusual for me, regardless of form, to start with only a powerful last line and build a poem that leads to it. Great question and thank you for all your support!

      • Jim Borden says:

        OK; that makes a lot of sense; it seemed like the last line was key. Did not realize that you often start with the final line and work backwards – that is good to know as well!

  7. jonicaggiano says:

    You are always teaching me something Brad, thank you. Your Ovillejo has a beautiful rhythm to it. Very nicely done Brad, I especially like your ending. It is sad but life can be sad and you captured that beautifully. “Leaving bloody stain behind.” Be careful – love and blessings to you Brad. Joni

  8. WildHeart says:

    Hey Brad, here’s my attempt. I hope you like it.

    An Iron-willed Dreamer

    A beautiful dream she chased,
    Hindrance she faced.

    With the world against her passion,
    Raging tension.

    Even with the blood-trickling punch,
    She didn’t budge.

    Towards her dreams, she took a lunge.
    Determined, she never gave up,
    Strong against every hiccup,
    Hindrance she faced, raging tension, she didn’t budge.

    Much love. xoxo

  9. Nima Mohan says:

    Hi Brad, thank you for introducing Ovillejo poem to me.
    Tried writing one and here is the link


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