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Italian stanza form composed of eight 11-syllable lines, rhyming abababcc. It originated in the late 13th and early 14th centuries and was established by Giovanni Boccaccio as the standard form for Italian epic and narrative verse. When the form appeared in English, the lines were shortened to 10 syllables. In the 17th–18th century, English ottava rima was written in iambic pentameter and used for heroic poetry. Notably effective in Lord Byron's Beppo (1818) and Don Juan (1819–24), it was also used by Edmund Spenser, John Milton, John Keats, Percy B. Shelley, Robert Browning, and William Butler Yeats.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ottava rima, visit Britannica.com.