Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Am All Feet

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!


the walking man said...

Looks OK to me but I think the last line with the conjunction is a slight stretch but it be neither here nor there cuz I like crazy old ladies who tend gardens,

Brian Miller said...

nicely penned...i may be talking to plants at that point myself....wonder what they will say to me...

Bagman and Butler said...

I see her perfectly in the clarity of your details...the crooning tone. My grandmother at 86 used to watch her neighbor (67) in the garden. My grandmother would complain, "She doesn't know what she is doing but what can you expect from someone so young. It's all relative.

TechnoBabe said...

Thank goodness I am not the only one. I talk to the plants all the time. I didn't tell anyone though. Lovely poem about "She".

Heaven said...

Well, I struggled to understand that form, and now after reading some examples, I now get it (I think).

I love your form and share (I think you should share this with Gay).

And indeed plants and flowers do respond....happy sunday ~

Gerry Snape said...

when you are that age Brian...they say "good morning back!"

The Bug said...

I can easily picture you crooning to your plants - but I'm not sure I believe that you'll let your garden get so wild (unless you want it that way).

This is a really interesting style - I might have to tackle it sometime.

Magpie said...

Regardless of the form or feet or ta TUMS - I like it. :)

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

What a character "she" is :) A colorful character!

twinkly sparkles said...

Nicely done! I think I need to study me some poetry--I love the form you dug up.

I love a good comment thread, too.


NanU said...

Oh, that's wonderful.
And so well done. I can never get my poem words into the predetermined form - the recalcitrant things always have an extra syllable or a missing accent.

jabblog said...

It's not just Prince Charles, then:-)
(and yes, I did dance in high heels and suffered for it . . . )

Carrie Burtt said...

You had me at ta Tum! Love it!

RNSANE said...

Well, your plants certainly do reward you!! Look at your blue ribbons or whatever it is you come home with from the fair!

NanU said...

say, any ideas for the next Jam?

ScottF said...

I've never been much of a rule follower, especially when I write... which is the thing I love about writing. I love simply expressing myself in free verse, prose, the occasional rhyme.

However, I am attracted to the idea of learning some discipline, and adding some new skills to my budding writing craft.

This is a really kool piece you've written Chris :-) Thank you for explaining the rhyming/meter, as this is all new to me.

G-Man said...

An apt pupil you are!!
Loved your poem.....G

Syd said...

Chaucer is someone I haven't thought about in many years. You did a great job.

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