Octave Poems

Octave poems are verses of eight lines, usually forming a single stanza. They can follow various rhyme schemes, such as ABBAABBA, ABABCDCD, or ABABBABA.

Octave poems are often used in sonnets, particularly in the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, where the first eight lines (the octave) present a problem or situation that is then resolved or developed in the remaining six lines (the sestet). Octave poems offer poets a concise structure to convey their ideas, emotions, or narratives.

They can stand alone as complete poems or be combined with other stanzas to create longer works. Octave poems allow poets to explore diverse themes and experiment with rhyme and meter within a concise and structured form.

Little Boy Blue

by Eugene Field

‘Little Boy Blue’ by Eugene Field is a beautiful, heartbreaking poem that describes the aftermath of a child’s death. It focuses on the child’s toys and how, despite many years having gone by, they’re still waiting for him. 

This poem is divided into three sets of eight lines, known as octaves. They're a great example of the verse form as they maintain an even rhyme scheme that persists throughout all 24 lines.

The little toy dog is covered with dust,

But sturdy and staunch he stands;

The little toy soldier is red with rust,

And his musket molds in his hands.

Cuddle Doon

by Alexander Anderson

‘Cuddle Doon’ by Alexander Anderson is a poem about a mother trying to persuade her children to go to sleep. It uses Scots dialect to convey the culture of the speaker and her family.

Each stanza of 'Cuddle Doon' consists of eight lines. The lines follow the same rhyming pattern in each stanza. This structure, along with the repetition of certain lines, gives the poem a comforting, almost lyrical quality.

The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht

Wi muckle faught and din.

“Oh try an’ sleep, ye waukrife rogues,

Your faither’s comin’ in.”

Mr. Flood’s Party

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

‘Mr. Flood’s Party’ by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man’s later years in life and how lonely he has become. It suggests that a long life is not always a blessing. 

This poem is made up of eight-line stanzas, or octaves.

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night

Over the hill between the town below

And the forsaken upland hermitage

That held as much as he should ever know

November Blue

by Alice Meynell

‘November Blue’ by Alice Meynell draws attention to the weather in November and what people do to make up for it.

This poem is made up of octaves, or eight-line stanzas. Each stanza has an alternate rhyme scheme of ababcdcd. It is a very good example of an octave. This is a good poem from Alice Meynell because when it comes to this poetic form, ‘November Blue’ performs fairly.

O, Heavenly colour! London town

Has blurred it from her skies;

And hooded in an earthly brown,

Unheaven'd the city lies.

I Was Not False To Thee

by Caroline Norton

‘I Was Not False to Thee’ by Caroline Norton is a poem about loneliness and a speaker’s feelings of unequal treatment.

An octave poem refers to a poem composed of eight lines in a specific rhyme scheme. 'I Was Not False To Thee' follows this structure, consisting of three stanzas, each comprising eight lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD. The use of the octave form in this poem provides a balanced and cohesive structure.

I was not false to thee, and yet

My cheek alone looked pale;

My weary eye was dim and wet,

My strength began to fail.

I Loved You

by Alexander Pushkin

‘I Loved You’ by Alexander Pushkin is a simple but effective poem in which the speaker expresses his devotion and respect for a woman he loved.

Octave poetry refers to the structure of the poem, which consists of eight lines following a specific rhyme scheme. Pushkin's skill in utilizing this form showcases his mastery of poetic structure and his ability to convey profound emotions within a concise framework.

I loved you: yet the love, maybe,

Has not extinguished in my heart;

But hence may not it trouble thee;

I do not want to make you sad.

The House by the Side of the Road

by Sam Walter Foss

‘The House by the Side of the Road’ by Sam Walter Foss was a once-popular American poem about caring for and helping other people. 

This poem is divided into sets of eight lines, known as octaves.

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn

In the place of their self-content;

There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,

In a fellowless firmament;


by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

‘Solitude’ by Ella Wheeler Wilcox describes the connection between one’s outlook on life and the friends and community one attracts. 

The structure of the poem, consisting of octaves, lends itself well to the themes Wilcox explores. Each stanza is like a self-contained lesson, making the poem easy to digest while still offering depth in its observations.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone;

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.


Boy at the Window

by Richard Wilbur

‘Boy at the Window’ by Richard Wilbur is a short poem exploring an interaction between a boy and a snowman. Through this interaction, an omniscient persona reveals the meaning of childhood innocence and the power of empathy.

This poem comprises two stanzas, each one an octave/octet. The poem is traditional, with rhythm, meter, and rhyme schemes. Its beat is one of the things that hooks readers and makes the poem memorable.

Seeing the snowman standing all alone

In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.

The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare

A night of gnashings and enormous moan.

Explore more Octave poems


by Edgar Guest

Edgar Albert Guest’s ‘Thanksgiving’ radiates familial warmth, intertwining laughter, gratitude, and time-honored traditions in shared gatherings.

This poem by Edgar Albert Guest follows an Octave structure comprising four stanzas of eight lines each. The consistent AABBCCDD rhyme scheme establishes a rhythmic pattern, guiding readers through the narrative. This structure echoes the repetitive yet comforting nature of family traditions, allowing Guest to effectively convey the themes of togetherness, gratitude, and the cyclical nature of celebrations.

Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,

An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;

An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they

Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;

A Prayer for my Daughter

by William Butler Yeats

 ‘A Prayer for my Daughter’ by William Butler Yeats speaks about the poet’s family. It demonstrates his concern and anxiety over the future wellbeing and prospects of his daughter, Anne.

This poem is written in a consistent formal structure. The poem consists of ten stanzas, each containing eight lines, making it an octet. The rhyme scheme follows a regular ABABCDDC pattern.The meter is iambic pentameter, meaning there are five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables in each line. This lends the poem a rhythmic quality, giving it a reflective and meditative tone.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour

And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,

And under the arches of the bridge, and scream

In the elms above the flooded stream;

In a Wood

by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s ‘In a Wood’ explores disillusionment in nature as conflicts and rivalries undermine the speaker’s search for solace.

The choice to structure 'In a Wood' as an octave may have been influenced by its thematic content. The use of the octave form allows for a concise and focused exploration of the speaker's disillusionment and the conflicts within nature. The eight-line structure creates a sense of balance and symmetry, contributing to the poem's overall cohesion and reinforcing the contrast between the speaker's expectations and the realities encountered in the natural world.

Pale beech and pine-tree blue,

Set in one clay,

Bough to bough cannot you

Bide out your day?

I Remember, I Remember

by Thomas Hood

‘I Remember, I Remember’ by Thomas Hood is a poem dedicated to the nostalgic embrace of childhood memory. Hood idolizes his ‘childish ignorance’, painting his memories with beautiful colors and images.

This poem is divided into stanzas of eight lines, or octaves, a form that lends itself well to its theme of contrast between two life stages. The repetitive nature of the stanzas, each starting with "I remember, I remember," adds a rhythmic flow.

I remember, I remember,

The house where I was born,

The little window where the sun

Came peeping in at morn;


by Rudyard Kipling

Many people consider ‘If—’ to be one of the most inspirational poems ever written. It is certainly a poem that has garnered a great deal of attention in popular culture.

This poem is a great example of an octave poem. It contains stanzas of eight lines, known as octaves, that maintain a regular pattern of rhyme and meter throughout.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;


The Trial by Existence

by Robert Frost

‘The Trial by Existence’ explores the paradox of bravery and the rewards of daring to face challenges in existence.

This poem is structured in octaves. There are nine stanzas, each composed of eight lines. The poem adheres to a consistent ABABCDCD rhyming scheme, lending it a balanced and harmonious flow. This form allows the poet, Robert Frost, to carefully develop and explore the complex themes of bravery, choice, and the enigmatic nature of existence in a structured and cohesive manner.

Even the bravest that are slain

     Shall not dissemble their surprise

On waking to find valor reign,

     Even as on earth, in paradise;

The Pumpkin

by John Greenleaf Whittier

‘The Pumpkin’ by John Greenleaf Whittier celebrates the pumpkin’s beauty, nostalgia, and its power to evoke cherished memories and emotions.

This poem by John Greenleaf Whittier predominantly follows the octave form, with the first four stanzas consisting of eight lines each and an AABBCCDD rhyming scheme. However, the final stanza deviates, taking the dizain form with ten lines and an AABBCCDDEE rhyming scheme. This change in structure emphasizes the poem's concluding message, lending a unique touch to its rhythm and flow.

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,

The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,

And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,

With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,

Vitaï Lampada

by Henry Newbolt

‘Vitaï Lampada’ contrasts cricket’s intensity with war’s chaos, urging courage and unity. Legacy of values endures.

This poem adheres to an Octave structure with three stanzas. Each stanza comprises eight lines, maintaining an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme. This structured form enhances the poem's rhythmic flow and memorability, while the consistent rhyme pattern creates a harmonious tone. The Octave's deliberate organization complements the poem's themes of duty, unity, and courage, reinforcing their significance throughout the verses.

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --

Ten to make and the match to win --

A bumping pitch and a blinding light,

An hour to play and the last man in.


I Feel it in the Air

by Edna Reed

Reed’s ‘I Feel it in the Air’ celebrates Easter’s spiritual essence interwoven with nature’s vibrant springtime rebirth.

The octave form traditionally refers to an eight-line stanza or verse. 'I Feel it in the Air' does utilize eight-line stanzas, particularly in the first two sections. This structure is effective for establishing a rhythmic pattern and encapsulating themes. The octave's uniformity can provide a sense of stability and cohesion, allowing the poem's thematic elements to shine through with clarity.

I know it's Easter time again,

I feel it in the air.

The breath of spring with woodsy tang,

And new life everywhere.

Keep A-Goin’

by Frank Lebby Stanton

‘Keep A-Goin’’ by Frank Lebby Stanton is a simple poem about the path one walks in life and what should happen if one runs into hardship. 

This poem is divided into sets of eight lines, known as octaves. These eight-line stanzas are consistent in the length of the lines and the rhyme scheme.

Ef you strike a thorn or rose,

    Keep a-goin'!

  Ef it hails, or ef it snows,

    Keep a-goin!

The Things That Are More Excellent

by William Watson

‘The Things that Are More Excellent’ by William Watson is a highly relatable poem that reminds readers to value the truly “excellent” things in life. One should not waste time on societal norms or acquiring material possessions.

This poem is divided into eight-line stanzas, octaves, or octets. These stanzas are very consistent and follow the same rhyme scheme. This contributes to the power of the poet's verse and lends the poem a sense of continuity and consistency.

As we wax older on this earth,

Till many a toy that charmed us seems

Emptied of beauty, stripped of worth,

And mean as dust and dead as dreams—

Each In His Own Tongue

by William Herbert Carruth

‘Each In His Own Tongue’ by William Herbert Carruth depicts the world and all its beauty and suffering, attributing the elements to evolution, longing, consecration, or God. 

A poem that uses eight-line stanzas or a single stanza of eight lines is known as an octave. This poem uses octaves, all of which contain short lines.

A fire mist and a planet,

A crystal and a cell,

A jellyfish and a saurian,

And caves where the cave men dwell;

Basketball Rule #1

by Kwame Alexander
This poem is made up of a single, eight-line stanza. This stanza includes a few different examples of rhyme as well. The structure is not particularly significant for the poem's content.

In this game of life

your family is the court

and the ball is your heart.

No matter how good you are,

Christ of Everywhere

by Henry van Dyke

‘Christ of Everywhere’ by Henry Van Dyke is a poem about the presence of Christ in all living things. Throughout this piece, Van Dyke uses simple and relatable language that allows all readers to connect with his words.


by Angelina Weld Grimké

‘Fragment’ by Angelina Weld Grimké is a short and powerful poem in which a woman discusses, in simple terms, who she is and how she toils on a day-to-day basis.


by Abhimanyu Kumar

‘Identity’ by Abhimanyu Kumar is a relatable poem that explores themes of memory, identity, and personal history while inspiring readers to take control of their lives.

The Sugar-Plum Tree

by Eugene Field

‘The Sugar-Plum Tree’ by Eugene Field is an image-rich poem that describes a colorful and entertaining dream world. It depicts a specific tree and how children can get sweets from its branches.

The Vagabond

by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘The Vagabond’ by Robert Louis Stevenson is a poem about one speaker’s desire to live a life close to nature and far from the rules of contemporary society. 


by Robert Graves

‘Triolet’ by Robert Bridges is a short love poem that takes a specific poetic form. It acknowledges that love is a painful experience and personifies the force as a “hard master.” 

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