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Valued Contributor

“Golden age” or not, England under Elizabeth I was a very minor European power. Keen to be part of the cultural mainstream, its poets imitated Italian forms such as the sonnet. And a tricky French form Italians called the sestina – the ‘little six’. Philip Sidney wrote a clever but vapid double sestina – what a show-off. 

Not heard of it? Me neither, until I stumbled across Marilyn Hacker’s arresting “Untoward Occurrence at Embassy Poetry Reading”.

Took me a while to see its structure – or even that it had one. You will be quicker. Here’s the challenge. Given a list of six words, return a template for a sestina.


q)sest string`pleased`read`poetry`death`seasons`subjects
"pleased read"
"poetry death"
"seasons subjects"


Single expression, please. Usual rules – no control words. Hint: iterate with the Scan form of Converge.