Of all the kooky things a person could start with on a Saturday morning, I started my day with a study of metric verse: ta TUM! It was an accident!
I just wanted to write a short poem in iambic pentameter for our Poetry Jam this week. For some reason, I unearthed my copy of “The Complete Rhyming Dictionary” from 1936 and promptly got caught up in rondelets and dactyls, tercets and feet. Its editor, Clement Wood, writes wonderful essays about everything you could ever want to know about rhyming poetry. Got so enchanted, I didn’t write my little poem until late in the evening.
It reminded me of the time I wanted to fact-check an interview I did with a WWII veteran, just to double-check my dates on the Allied march into Germany. I ended up reading about the Third Army under Gen. Patton for two whole days, fascinated. And I was on a deadline!
Anyway, the Poetry Jam assignment is to write a poem about being 67 years old. Hostess Dana had her reasons for this (find them here). She also said to write poetry outside of our standard operating procedure. So I chose a form foreign to me: the rhyme royal, a seven-line stanza out of the Middle Ages, used by Geoffrey Chaucer. I haven’t looked at his stuff since college. It might as well be Greek. It has five pairs of iambic feet: ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM. The rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-b-c-c.
Writing the poem was kind of like building a kite: It proved harder than I thought it would be. So I took a break or two and photographed the flowers I put on my desk Saturday morning. And here is my poetical account of being 67, in a stanza pattern way older than that:
The Next-Door Neighbor
We call her “She,” the woman living here.
We don’t know her past or age, let alone
her name, only that She’s terribly queer
about her garden, so much overgrown
She vanishes there. But with crooning tone
we can hear her chattering to her plants—
and they reply! With great exuberance!