Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A group of six lines of poetry, especially the last six lines of a Petrarchan sonnet.
  • n. A poem or stanza containing six lines.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of music composed for six voices or six instruments; a sextet or sestuor.
  • n. The last six lines of a poem.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A piece of music composed for six voices or six instruments; a sextet; -- called also sestuor.
  • n. The last six lines of a sonnet.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, same as sextet.
  • n. The two concluding stanzas of a sonnet, consisting of three lines each; the last six lines of a sonnet.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a rhythmic group of six lines of verse
  • n. a musical composition written for six performers
  • n. the cardinal number that is the sum of five and one
  • n. six performers or singers who perform together
  • n. a set of six similar things considered as a unit

Etymologies

Italian sestetto, from sesto, sixth, from Latin sextus; see s(w)eks in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Italian sestetto, from sesto sixth, Latin sextus, from sex six. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Notice the ways in which the problem/argument is posited in the octave and the solution/response is presented in the sestet; moreover, to further the problem/argument, Hopkins relies heavily upon cacophony in the octave but turns heavily to euphony in the sestet.

    Argument in verse

  • Great Regulars: The sonnet is powered by the momentum established in the sestet, and somehow maintains the intensity of its indignation through the weaker octet--because the political emotion is genuine.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • And he ends the sestet by mentioning the mundane work he wants to abandon for the sublime enjoyment of the warm, spring day.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • This innovative sonnet sections itself into two quatrains and a sestet, making it a gentle melding of the English and Italian sonnets.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • In the second sestet addressing the alluring features of the night, he finds the night too wonderful and May flowers too sweet to remain inside just mundanely sleeping.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • The work consists of 15 sonnets, all of which follow the Italian rhyme scheme and the division into octave and sestet, and each new poem takes up where the last one left off.

    Archive 2009-05-01

  • If the lover does in fact express his love via a sonnet, then the octave (represented here by the interrogative symbol raised to the eighth power) might encode the query: “Who do I love?” — to which the sestet (represented here by the letter U raised to the sixth power) might encode the reply: “You!”

    Quick Review 07 : Christian Bök : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • Petrarch, of course, writes his sonnets in two parts: an octave and a sestet — in which the first eight lines pose a problem that the remaining six lines attempt to resolve.

    Quick Review 07 : Christian Bök : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • Most people only know the sestet and leave out part of that, and thus fail to recognize this as an Italian Sonnet.

    The New Colossus | ATTACKERMAN

  • Speaking of names, sestet is another exceptional case: I looked it up.

    The Sestet and the Sextrain | miscellani.org

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