The sestina is an incredibly complex form of poetry originating in Occitania, modern-day southern France, in the twelfth century C.E. Its creation is credited to Arnaut Daniel, an Occitan troubadour who was active at the time in the court of Richard Cœur de Lion. What sets the sestina apart from other intricate poetry of the Middle Ages, such as the sonnet, is the mathematical nature of its stanzas. The sestina was truly meant to showcase the author’s writing talent rather than as pure entertainment for an audience.
Within this Queen's Prize entry are both a historical paper on the poetic form itself and the performance of an original sestina. The scholarly paper supports the performance by giving historical context and insight into how a complex sestina is composed. While the 12th-century sestina poem I composed is on the theme "Long live the Outlands." and draws on my research of why and how this complex poetry style was created. Additionally, this is my first ever attempt at this art form. The performance of the poem and accompanying historical paper are presented together as a single entry to demonstrate the complexity of a sestina and to discuss its historical context.
Tara Jayakar, “Sestina,” https://poets.org/glossary/sestina (accessed 27 February 2021).
Phil Wink, “Graphical representation of the algorithm for ordering the end-words in a sestina,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sestina#/media/File:Sestina_system_alt.svg (accessed 6 March 2021).
Barbara Smythe, Trobador Poets Selections from the Poems of Eight Trobadors (London: Chatto & Windus, 1911), 99 – 105.
Arnaut Daniel, “The firm will that my heart enters,” http://www.trobar.org/troubadours/arnaut_daniel/arnaut_daniel_09.php (accessed 3 March 2021).
Paul Fussell, (1979). Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, (New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 1979), 161.
Dante Alighieri, “The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio 26,” https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/purgatorio/purgat… (accessed 6 March 2021).