Sestina: A Time to Fight, a Time to Play

A sestina is a special type of poem. The first six stanzas have six lines each, and the lines end in the same six words, but in a different order in each stanza. In the final stanza are three lines, each containing two of the words. Making a rhyming sestina adds a little more to the challenge.

Sometimes we intended only to play,
Then we’d end up in a schoolyard fight.
It might be a word you’d hear someone say,
Or just whispers from someone out of sight.
Rough and tumble games make up a boy’s day
And we boys looked forward to them with delight.

How do you measure a boy’s delight?
What is the difference between fight and play?
To boys, a black eye is one happy sight;
It mattered little what teachers would say.
Tall stories exchanged about the big fight;
Things you’d do different on some future day.

But why must you wait for some future day,
When fighting is always such a delight?
While the girls think only of doll games to play,
Dolls quickly hidden from taunting boys’ sight,
Knowing the boys would have dumb things to say,
And hoping they’d soon return to their fight.

Saturdays were fun, with bad guys to fight;
We’d get in our fort and stay there all day –
A day without school is such a delight!
Girls were not welcome to join in our play;
Girls fighting bad guys would be a weird sight.
“Girls just aren’t cool,” my friends would all say.

Then I met Sally, what more can I say?
Sally told me that it’s stupid to fight.
She taught me new games that we could both play.
I found girls were cool, much to my delight!
I started to dream of Sally all day.
When I’d see old friends, I’d keep out of sight.

One day Sally said my looks were a sight.
She was in charge; not much I could say.
I was defeated, not even a fight.
No time for my friends, she owned my whole day.
I didn’t complain or hide my delight;
Sally had taught me a new kind of play.

Now when we play, a most wonderful sight.
Sometimes a fight; with twelve boys who can say?
Joy fills our day, married life’s a delight!


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