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Poetry Guide: Tercet

A tercet is three lines of poetry forming a stanza or complete poem. Haiku is an example of an unrhymed tercet poem.

Other types of tercet include enclosed tercet where the lines rhyme in an a b a pattern and terza rima where the a b a pattern of a verse is continued in the next verse by making the outer lines of the next stanza rhyme with the central line of the preceding stanza. The tercet also forms part of the villanelle, where the initial five stanzas are tercets, followed by a concluding quatrain.

A tercet may also be separate halves of the ending sestet in a petrarchan sonnet where the rhyme scheme is abbaabba cdccdc as in Longfellow's "Cross of Snow."