|Also called: sextain an elaborate verse form of Italian origin, normally unrhymed, consisting of six stanzas of six lines each and a concluding tercet. The six final words of the lines in the first stanza are repeated in a different order in each of the remaining five stanzas and also in the concluding tercet|
|[C19: from Italian, from sesto sixth, from Latin sextus]|
elaborate verse form employed by medieval Provencal and Italian, and occasional modern, poets. It consists, in its pure medieval form, of six stanzas of blank verse, each of six lines-hence the name. The final words of the first stanza appear in varied order in the other five, the order used by the Provencals being: abcdef, faebdc, cfdabe, ecbfad, deacfb, bdfeca. Following these was a stanza of three lines, in which the six key words were repeated in the middle and at the end of the lines, summarizing the poem or dedicating it to some person
Learn more about sestina with a free trial on Britannica.com.