10 of the Best Sestinas in English

Selected by Dr Oliver Tearle

The sestina form is thought to have been created by Provencal troubadours – and possibly by one specific troubadour, Arnaut Daniel – in around 1200. However, it didn’t arrive in English literature until the late 1570s, when both Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, poets at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, used it … and then sestinas disappeared from English verse until the late nineteenth century. Since then, the sestina has remained a part of Anglophone poetry.

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