packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
Via [livejournal.com profile] zwol (no relation to Greg Stephen's Zwol.org), about half a month late:



I am heroic couplets; most precise
And fond of order. Planned and structured. Nice.
I know, of course, just what I want; I know,
As well, what I will do to make it so.
This doesn't mean that I attempt to shun
Excitement, entertainment, pleasure, fun;
But they must keep their place, like all the rest;
They might be good, but ordered life is best.
What Poetry Form Are You?


Or, possibly,



I am, of course, none other than blank verse.
I don't know where I'm going, yes, quite right;
And when I get there (if I ever do)
I might not recognise it. So? Your point?
Why should I have a destination set?
I'm relatively happy as I am,
And wouldn't want to be forever aimed
Towards some future path or special goal.
It's not to do with laziness, as such.
It's just that one the whole I'd rather not
Be bothered - so I drift contentedly;
An underrated way of life, I find.
What Poetry Form Are You?


Evidently I am large and contain multitudes.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
Stepping away from actually playing for a moment, I want to talk briefly about some of the more sophisticated reasons why I enjoy the game of putting verse in words of one beat. I will admit I've only played it a little (I've done two poems – look for Rob Z.), and contemplated it only barely more than that, but what is Livejournal for but underdigested thoughts?

One of the odd things about the game is how turning a work of verse into words of one beat is somehow like translation into another language. It isn't – it's easier – but the resemblance remains in some respects. One of the ways in which the similarity is very useful is in how you must read the poem on which you work.

Yes, you read the poem, of course. You read it, and meditate on it, and share it with your friends, and this is a fine and noble thing. Nevertheless, when playing the game of one-beat, you not only must read the poem, you have to analyse it, see every word and know the fifteen other words that could have been there and why they aren't, and recognize every allusion and know the story behind each one, note every rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, repetition, consonance, enjambment, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. "I do that already," you say. Good, I reply; I don't. But when I work a poem into words of one beat, I do, and I enjoy the poem more for it.

That's actually my two top reasons for doing it, there, or nearly so – enjoyment and education. I do it also for exposure; there are fifteen other folk in the [livejournal.com profile] wordsofonebeat community, and all of them have read poems I have not, and will enjoy. Then, of course, there is the fourth reason – exposure. Stage-shy as I am, I still like to perform when I think I'm doing well, and I like people to care what I think.

But I am wandering, now. I'd best return to Lord Alfred Tennyson (how to turn that into monosyllables, I wonder!), and see how to make the rest of "Tears, Idle Tears" into words of one beat. Later!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
So, I have been reading the online version of The Writer's Almanac, since my dad listens to the show, and sometimes there are some very fine poems there. Today, I decided to look up all the ones I'd bookmarked on 'real' poetry sites. Which went well, until "My Love Is Like to Ice" by Edmund Spenser. (Coincidentally, this is today's poem. For the next couple hours, anyway.)

When you Google "My Love Is Like to Ice" by Edmund Spenser, you get about two hundred sites of love poetry!

What is this? "Love" is in the title, so it's romantic? Bah! Unless he's entirely corrupting all the common metaphors of romance, Spenser's saying that he loves someone who doesn't love him back, and loves her the more for the lack of reciprocation! I like the poem, but that's not romantic.

...there, I'm done. Anyway, Poetry Connection's page with "My Love Is Like to Ice" seems to be okay, though ad-clogged.

"Love" poetry. Hmph!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
I just found out that there was/is a group on the Net which strives to speak only in words of one beat. They have a page of poems made thus here, with an FAQ here.

I think this is a fine fun thing to do (though I know it to have been done ere this). I thought to give one of old Lord Alf. Tenn.'s works a try, or Bob Frost's, but they proved too much for me; I did not know them. In spite of that, I will try a bit of E. Pound. Not a lot of long words in this one in the first place.

The Tree
I stood still and was a tree in midst of wood,
To know the truth of things not seen before;
Of Daph. and of the green tree's bow
And those gods'-hosts, that love-pair old
That grew elm-oak in midst of wold.
'Twas not ere when the gods had been
With grace bid come, and been brought right in
Straight to the hearth of their heart's home
That they might do this awe-made thing:
Yet I have been a tree in midst of wood,
And swarms of new things known as good
That had no sense in my head's sight before.


Oh, I found the one-word thing linked here. I left the poem on the post there as well.

Ed.: The [livejournal.com profile] wordsofonebeat comm. I joined it – it is still small, though.

Ed. 2: E. Pound's work can be found not changed here, here, and some more spots I lack the space to name.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
Consider the definition of a rhyme. Essentially, tail rhymes only happen when the final syllables of the word are similar or identical, right? In fact, excepting semirhymes, oblique/slant rhymes, and sight rhymes, all of these involve having varying numbers of the final phonemes being exactly identical.

So, if you wrote all the words phonetically, and then sorted by the last letter, wouldn't all the rhymes fall together?

You'd have to do some tricks to handle imperfect rhymes, of course, but it would work! In fact, it would almost be possible to sort most slant rhymes to be close together as well! (Nobody cares about sight rhymes.) You could do this in a paper dictionary, even! It would rock!

If someone hasn't done this yet, it needs to be done. Seriously.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
What is poetry? What is it?
Is it words in lines the author chooses?
What makes poetry? What makes it?
What makes prose not poetry?

Ancient poems in verse were written
Rhyme and meter being sound and rhythm
Modern Muses cast off scansion
Writing, lacking meter, modern poems.

Is just imagery sufficient?
What do poets want to make in writing?
Is mere metaphor unfinished
When it lacks the form of ancient writing?

What is poetry? What is it?
How am I my poetry to write?
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
The big campus Stuff-You-Can-Do-On-Or-Near-Campus 'fair' was yesterday and today, and I just found out about a creative writing club there. The little handout is relatively sparse, but it appears that they do regular poetry and writing workshops throughout the semester on Monday and Wednesday nights. I missed the first meetings of the semester, but I probably can attend the Wednesday meetings if I get my act together with my homework.

This will be good. The 'eleventh' interest which didn't appear in the interests meme below was 'writing', and regular workshops like this would be a great incentive to write both poetry and fiction. Hopefully they'll send an email out with info on how to sign up, although I'm not sure I should submit anything for review the first time. I hope this will be fun.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
The writing-in-meter one. There were six forms in which I was instructed to compose a single line (no hard task): pure iambic, pure trochaic, trochaic with catalexis (i.e. final unaccented syllable/syllables dropped), pure anapestic, pure dactylic, and dactylic with catalexis. They gave examples of each, from which a reader could deduce the proper accentual form.

As I predicted, these lines inspired poems. Five poems, to be exact; most of them incomplete, all of them needing editing. Be sure that they will be posted here when they are complete.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Like the previous exercise, I followed the directions and analyzed the rhythm and content of the given passages. Unlike the previous exercise, all three passages are from the same author; in fact, they are from the same work: Virginia Woolf's The Waves.

(Note: The Waves is still in copyright in the U.S. until 2026. This is ridiculous, since the author has been dead since 1941, but nevertheless current U.S. copyright law confirms this. However, the use of short excerpts in a scholarly fashion, like I have done below, is protected as Fair Use.)




Original Passages from "The Waves" )

Analysis )




Next is an exercise in writing in meter. Should be easy enough – I'll post any poems it inspires.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
I've had this book for ten days, and I only just finished the first exercise? Summer vacation is more enervating than I thought!

In any case, I thought that, since I wasn't posting very much on this journal, I'd provide the short essay that was assigned as part of Exercise 1 in the book. The exercise was straightforward: I was to read two passages, the 23rd Psalm from the King James Bible and a quote from John Milton's Areopagitica, and analyze their rhythm and figures of speech in a variety of specific ways. The essay was to present the content of these analyses and to suggest which was more effective in presenting its point.


Before the essay, naturally, comes the texts it analyzes. Then the essay, divided into three (very short) sections.




The Twenty-Third Psalm )


Areopagitica excerpt )


Analysis of 23rd Psalm )


Analysis of Areopagitica excerpt )


Conclusions )




Sadly, this is but the first exercise of four in the first chapter. If I want to finish before the semester starts, I'm really going to have to start moving faster. I'm tempted to skip the second one, which is almost exactly like the first, but the passages it asks me to analyze seem even more interesting than the above: they are three excerpts from Virginia Woolf's The Waves.

Ah, well. #3 is an exercise in writing in meter – I'm good at that, and I can probably turn at least one of the lines into a poem to put up here.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
In a recent post of mine, one of the comments made mention of the 1887 Gerard Manley Hopkins poem "The Windhover". It is a difficult poem to read – "very dense [...], hard to understand at the first few (dozen!) readings" was how the commenter described it.

This aforementioned density includes the density of metaphor and simile in Hopkins's words, and additionally the density of now-obscure terms. A look at a reading of the poem (this one is by George P. Landow of Brown University) demonstrates how complex it is. As an example here, I quote one sentence from the middle of the poem:

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
        As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl & gliding
        Rebuffed the big wind. [...]


In these three and a half lines, we have two examples of difficult vocabulary (an obscure usage of "rung", and "wimpling"), a metaphor right alongside them ("the rein of a wimpling wing"), another metaphor ("off forth on swing"), and a simile with a third metaphor inside it (the "skate's heel" and the "bow-bend", respectively). What do all of these things mean?

First, what does "rung" mean, in this context? According to John Harrington and Peter Hornsburgh (the writers of the information linked), in falconry "to ring" is to ascend in a tight spiral, and the reference to "rein" may relate to the practice of lunging horses. In addition, they inform us that "wimpling" may mean "rippling" – a definition borne out by the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary. Going back to Professor Landow's 'translation' of Hopkins's words, we also find that the "off forth on swing" metaphor might allude to the same kind of swing which is found in playgrounds. Finally, the "skate's heel" might be the heel of an ice-skater, and the "bow-bend" which it sweeps might be the smooth curve of a longbow.

That's a lot of work, considering that's only a quarter of the poem. "If it's so hard to understand, then why read it?" you might ask. Or, rather, I might ask. Or, still more precisely, I did ask; why?

The answer – I don't know. I might observe that the poem is well-written, or at least widely considered so. I might suggest that the poem contains many useful words, good for forming a broad vocabulary. I might mention that the poem is famous literature, and has cultural significance. I might give any reason.

When you choose to read a poem, when you choose to take the time to research it so that you can really read it, you will get benefits from it. But should you read it?

The answer is just "I don't know" again. Or "Make your own decision". Or even "Do you want to?"

I do. I like vocabulary, I like culture, and I like good poetry.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
As you may have inferred from my past posts, I am a regular on a webcomic forum. The Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire forum, to be specific. It's a fun place to go, especially if you read the comic - plenty of pun and games for all, and a little bit of fairly-reasoned political debate as well.

One of the people I met through this forum has become a friend of mine on AIM as well. We have had a lot of fun in our chats, and he showed me a goodbye which I find quite striking. That is, the phrase "Wind to thy wings."

Those four words resonate with me. The metaphor of flying is a powerful one, made more powerful by the economy of the words. The use of the archaic "thy" adds to this by evoking the memory of classical English poetry. Still further, the alliterative form is strong, both in the accented 'wind' and 'wings', and the quick, light 'to thy' between.

Content and form working together. Simplicity and elegance. Poetry.

Wind to thy wings.

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packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
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