Thursday, April 16, 2009


Shape is one of the main things that separates prose and poetry. Poetry can take on many formats, but one of them most inventive forms is for the poem to take on the shape of its subject. So if the subject of your poem is an apple, then the poem's lines would be written so that the poem appears to take on the shape of an apple.

Is a poem called "Idea: Old Mazda Lamp" by John Hollander. that looks like a lightbulb, and thus the reader can infer that the subject is light or thoughts.
I like the diction of hte poem, becasue the poet uses analagies and similies that pertain to light bulbs, such as "Either darkness" or "fifty watts apart" and "Flick and Click and there it is suddenly Oh yes I see". Hollander does not use any punctuation at all, and since the poem does not have stanza's it is a little tricky to read. He uses capitalization however, that might indicate a new thought. His vivid imagery emulates the idea of a shape poem, as he says "a snapped-off dream disparses into darkness like gold becoming mere motes." The shape helps becasue as his poem comes ot the tip of hte lightbulb, it gains momentum in pace, jsut as the poem reaches the tip it concludes.

Question: What is John Hollander trying to convey to the readers? is there more to it than Light and darkness?What do you make of his lack of punctuation other than capitalization?


At first, looking into this, a Sestina seems to be a complicated poem. I'm still researching, and it is complicated. these types of poems are also know as sextina, sestine, or a sextain, and is a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (called its envoy or tornada), for a total of thirty-nine lines.

The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time; if we number the first stanza's lines 123456, then the words ending the second stanza's lines appear in the order 615243, then 364125, then 532614, then 451362, and finally 246531. This organization is referred to as retrogradatio cruciata ("retrograde cross"). These six words then appear in the tercet as well, with the tercet's first line usually containing 1 and 2, its second 3 and 4, and its third 5 and 6 (but other versions exist, described below). English sestinas are usually written in iambic pentameter or another decasyllabic meter


Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! When I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.

In hot summer have I great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth's foul peace,
And the lightnings from black heav'n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the wind shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the raven skies God's swords clash.

Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing!
Better one hour's stour than a years peace
With flat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson!

And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His lone might 'gainst all darkness opposing.

The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worth's won and the swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.

Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
There's no sound like the swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battle's rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges 'gainst "The Leopard's" rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry "Peace!"

And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords the swords clash!
Hell blot black for alway the thought "Peace!"

Ezra Pound follows the restrictions of the Sestina. I believe the three lines at the end resemble a couplet. It does what a couplet would do to conclude a poem (typically a sonnet, with four lines then three) the sestina concludes wiht three lines, because hte stanza has six lines, instead of four.

Ezra chose her repeating 6 words to be "peace", "music", "clash", "opposing", :crimson", "rejoicing". She chooses her diction carefully, as they are opposites- (peace/clash) (music/crimson) (opposing/rejoicing) for the purpose of creating a poem wiht substance and broad topics, so she can relate all of the words to each other for more sentance structure possibilites. The poem talks of war and celebration.

Question: What do you think Ezra's motivation for writing her sestina is, and why does this type of poem satify her message?


HAIKU is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 morae (or on), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7 and 5 morae respectively. Haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji or verbal caesura. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku. Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

Most Japanese poems are beautiful and follow all of the restrictions of syllabls, yet when translated into English, the poem loses its flow. America has adapted Haiku's as a mainstream form of poetry.

This haiku doesn't follow structure, becasue in the 16th centure master Matsuo Basho wrote it in Japanese, and its translation into english is not perfect:

An old pond!
A frog jumps in--
the sound of water.

The poem emulates what a haiku typically trys to convey. Most poems are in present tense and use imagery, as well as try to establish a sense of order and peace. The simplistic Japanese style is easygoing, and often a good way to introduce poetry. Its strict structure and short ideas allow readers t ostay interested and leave the poem wiht meaning attached to it.

Slam Poetry

Slam Poetry-is a competition at which poets read or recite original work (or, more rarely, that of others). These performances are then judged on a numeric scale by previously selected members of the audience.

I worked with this type of poetry in creative writing clas, and it was alot of fun. We were told that slam poetry is more like a movement in expression, and often deals with topics that irritate us, so more expression and passion can go into hteir poetry. Slam poetry is more of a performance than merely a written down poem, so I searched on youtube to find some slam poets. Alot of them are kind of creepy and deal wiht good topics, and I found a poet reciting her poem that I thought was worth commenting.

At first, I thought the poem was going to be like a love poem, so I kind of thought it would be bad. Yet around 1:05, the poem take a turn for an interesting topic. The poet, who goes by "Vocab", and her poem is about how pick up lines are disrespectful, and her thoughts on the lines men use, and how they are hurtful to women. She uses allusions such as moses and comparisons to Moses. her sarcastic tone and anger make me believe her argument. Her stong opionions come out, as she doesnt blame the guys mother for his lack of respect, rather she lyrically states "the television is erasing and rewinding all the lectures of respect that she gave him." while the crowd cheers. Her comparisons hit home, as I feel like I really understand her thoughts and feel she is very relateable. Around 2:43 mark, she takes her slam poem to an even more serious tone, and talks about rape victims. It is extremely sad on how her words are so close to reality, though I cannot relate to a rape victim, I feel sorrow for them. Her poem and the tone she literally uses keeps me interested and wants ot listen to her so much more, its like a captivation. To keep an edge on things, and in control of the situation and relate to her orriginal topic for closure. She says, "In nine months from now when he finds himself in the maternity ward of a hospital, he can give birth to a real man. Or, at least, a better pickup line."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a Pantoum consists of a series of quatrains rhyming ABAB in which the second and fourth lines of a quatrain recur as the first and third lines in the succeeding quatrain; each quatrain introduces a new second rhyme as BCBC, CDCD. The first line of the series recurs as the last line of the closing quatrain, and third line of the poem recurs as the second line of the closing quatrain, rhyming ZAZA.

I think this form of poetry is a little confusing, and very unpopular due to the rigorous structure and little space for a messae to come accross. In A Survey of Engligh Poetry I found a poem that hopefully has somewhat of a pantoum structure or jsut varies slightly form it. I looked for hte repetition in lines, which I saw.

As Dew in Aprille by Anonymous
I sing of a maiden
That is makels:
King of all kings
To her son she ches.

He came also stille
There his moder was,
As dew in Aprille
That falleth on the grass.

He came al so stille
To his moder's bour,
As dew in Aprille
That falleth on the flour.

He came al so stille
There his moder lay,
As dew in Aprille
That falleth on the spray.

Moder and mayden
Was never none but she:
Well may such a lady
Goddess moder be.

All I could find on youtube were really high pitched annoying choires singing this song along wiht harps, so I thought I'd spare you guys and just write about it. Anyway, I guess that this was a medival hymn of some sort which was found and written down as poetry, or the opposite way around. "As Dew in Aprille" disgusses the relationship between a mother and son, and then progresses toward a mother and a madden. The repetition of "As dew in Aprille" is signifigant to the fact that it is in the middle three stanzas, and sets the light tone for hte poem. The "King" is presumeably the maiden's husband who is being idolized and the "fallen" aspects of the poem sudgest a lapse in something, although I am not quite sure what. I do't really understand all the symbolism of hte poem, but htat is my best analysis.

Week 2 Villanelle, Pantoum

The villanelle has 19 lines, 5 stanzas of three lines and 1 stanza of four lines with two rhymes and two refrains. The 1st, then the 3rd lines alternate as the last lines of stanzas 2,3,and 4, and then stanza 5 (the end) as a couplet. It is usually written in tetrameter (4 feet) or pentameter. The form is originally French and didn't appear in English until the later 1800's.

I selected a famous villanelle by Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night." Thomas does not stray form the form and structure of the poem, it is an effective example of how villanelle repetition works.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night,

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night,

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

This poem clearly contrasts hte light versus dark theme present in many literary works. With the repeating lines "Do not go gentle into that good night" emphasizes the message of possible death or the unknown darkness that "night" symbolizes, and how to not easily slip into the darkess but rather pick a fight. The second line of repetition is "Rage, Rage, against the dying of the light" furthur emphasizes the fight for resistance of the darkness so "dying of the light" acts like a euphamism.

Throughout the poem's three stanzas death lurks heavily, as in each stanza there is a scenario of possible death and fall into darkness of a mysterious "man", where the subject is then reassured by one of the repeating lines. The poem then concludes in the quatrain where the speaker reassures his own father to fight and live on wiht both of the repeating lines to serve as the concluding couplet.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week 1: Ode, Elegy

I am focusing on an elegy poem, since I did an ode in my last post.

elegy of ages by Sakura Tomoko

poets of centuries,
their words ever so
whisper their lives
Result in catastrophe
but preserve them forever
-in elegy

I've never heard of Sakura Tomoko, but I like his word choice in this elegy.
"eloquent" and "catastrophe" really juxtopose the idea of "preserv[ation]" and "poets of hte centuries" seems to sum up the ideas of how Brittish and Midevial origination of these types of styles of poetry, with odes and elegys. My interpretation of hte poem is that Sakura is addressing hte "poets of the centuries," in sayign that they chose their words well to portray and describe their lives. He also says that since people's talk "Result in catastrophe" and gets them into trouble, or jsut that lives "result in catastrophe" by dying, or jsut having problems. In saying "but preserve them forever" I think Sakura notes how peoples tragedies make for great poems ("-in elegy") and rememberance.