Whittled Words – Rispetto 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:



A rispetto is a very old Italian poetic form and its age has spawned many definitions, but the two most common variations are these:

Rispetto #1: Poem comprised of two quatrains (4 lines) written in iambic (unstress, stress) tetrameter (four feet or, in this case, 8 syllables).

Rispetto #2: Poem (or song) comprised of 8 hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) lines, usually one stanza.

Both versions appear to follow the rhyme scheme: ababccdd. Though, it can also be found in an abababcc pattern. There are more than a few sources which state rispettos were originally written to pay “respect” to a woman.


Examples of Rispetto Poems:



(Variation #2)

by Joseph Harker

 I write her a three-page letter, to come out,
skulk off like a coward once it’s delivered.
She knows now what my shyness has been about,
knows why my lips and my tongue always quivered.
We have no stomach for venom or grudges,
nor the friends playing my jury, my judges.
She trades me sympathy for the truth I give:
our love-dreams are chaste, our lives are free to live.



(Variation #1)

By Icandootoo

I wish she’d seen how blue it glowed
The screen, alight within this space
this darkened room, this small abode
within these walls, upon this face.

To conquer, capture, vanquish, raze
to kill the screen and earn Their praise.
I wish right now she’d felt the same.
I lost at love…still, won the game!



(Variation #1)

By Brad Osborne


Alight upon the maiden fair

And whisper in her shapely ear

Remind her how indeed so rare

Golden braids drip with angel’s tear

Ne’er oft do gods see fit bestow

Their finest gifts displayed for show

This angel topped with sunlight mane

Running to stay out of the rain



(Variation #2)

By Brad Osborne


It is like the stars shift just a little bit

Like everything leans to one side of the world

Long shadows in a room that is barely lit

Old photos strewn about now yellowed and curled

These memories scattered in the failing light

Streak face in tears, hurt the heart, and haunt blurred sight

I cry for the dreams we had conjured in head

Lying now like still life scattered on the bed


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 Rispetto poem. Thanks for reading!



19 Responses to “Whittled Words – Rispetto Poem”
  1. beth says:

    nice use of this form – as soon as I saw the word ‘rispetto,’ I was imagining a pasta )

  2. I enjoyed every one of these poems and found them easy to read and follow. Goldilocks is my favorite, probably because it takes me back to the ‘beauty’ of childhood. Very nice post!

  3. sudrakarma says:

    “Kill Screen” is hilarious, and so contemporary. And you nailed formal poetic language on “Goldilocks”. Beautifully done.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you, Sudra! Sometimes the hardest thing about this series is finding contemporary examples of the form. So many poets today eschew form poetry.

      • sudrakarma says:

        Interesting and true, especially of contemporary poetry and my own! I wonder if simply imposing a random form, one you just “make up” beforehand (which has most likely been done before anyway), is better than not having any form at all because it imposes creative constraints that make the writing better BECAUSE it’s more difficult.

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Certainly, a form, whether established or contrived, can lend a quality of rhythm to a poem. Rhyme schemes can also create moments of expectation for the reader. It is more difficult. I can’t say it is better than free form poetry, but it is more artistic in my humble opinion.

  4. K.L. Hale says:

    Your Vacency poem touched my heart, Brad. I always enjoy learning new styles. Thank you my friend. Sending love and hugs this Resurrection weekend. 💛🤗😘

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Karla, you always say the nicest things and lift my day. I hope your faith is renewed in the celebration of the greatest gift. I return your love ten-fold, but I am selfishly keeping all your hugs! 🥰🤗💛

  5. A very nice form and you’ve used it to perfection!

  6. kristianw84 says:

    Goldilocks is brilliant!!

  7. jonicaggiano says:

    Oh I liked this form a lot Brad and especially the first one. Talk about romantic and old school. This is a great style for your beautiful romantic lines. Great writing. Sending you warm hugs and lots of love ❤️ Jonikins

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