Un-primed Poetry Primer.

Oh, dear. This has been quite a distracting week for me, and I don’t really have anything brilliant to share with you about my writing journey.

So guess what that means?

In this post on The Ode Less Travelled, I said that if I ever felt brave, I would share some of my execrable poetry attempts with you all. Well, I don’t feel brave, but I literally HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO SHARE.

All my humblest apologies for what follows.

About halfway through the book, Stephen Fry required his readers to write verse in each of six different forms we had been studying. The “poems” had to describe their own form. It was a pretty challenging exercise, and I was happy just to get through it, honestly. Here’s what came of it:

Terza Rima

In Terza Rima rhyming is the scheme
Which binds together every other line.
This linking form makes every stanza seem

Continued from the last, and this is fine.
But when your thought is full, about to pop,
And in your verse there’s nothing to refine,
An extra “C” rhyme brings it to a stop.

The Quatrain

The Quatrain is a standard English verse
Whose use is varied, and the options wide.
As poets, we could really all do worse
Than keep the Quatrain firmly by our side.

The Rubai

The Rubai’s an exotic kind of way
To write the things you think of day by day.
You may say “How’s it different from the last?”
Look close; you’ll see the scheme’s “aaba.”

Rhyme Royal

This verse, you know, was good enough for Geoff,
And some say it was used by Henry Four.
If with iambic feet we can be deft,
(And if our rhyming skills are not too poor)
On Royal form, why would we shut the door?
Add one last couplet to cement the thought;
Our rhyme is ended, and our poem caught.

Ottava Rima

This form is not unlike the Royal Rhyme
Which from old Chaucer has been handed down.
Though both these forms have stood the test of time,
And may be found in shops in every town,
Preferring this one’s surely not a crime:
The Royal’s double couplet makes me frown.
Plus, Byron used this Rima for Don Juan!
So surely that fact lends the form some brawn.

Spencerian Stanza

Oh Spencer, why did you invent this form
Just to write your stupid Faerie Queen?*
You must have known it couldn’t be the norm;
Its lines are snaky. Only the greats could lean
On verse like this. The rest must find you mean;
And they, like me, refusing to be led
Along your garden path, or up your bean-
Stalk, must (if not already) wish you dead.
Don’t take offense, but I must say I hate you, Ed.

So there you have it. My gosh-awful self-referential verses. While they are inexcusably terrible, they DO meet all the requirements of the forms. For someone like me, who doesn’t profess to have the foggiest clue about the musicality of words, that’s not half bad.

*The Faerie Queen is probably not stupid. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t read it. That descriptor was merely inspired by my exasperation with Spencer for creating this obnoxiously twisty form. The rhyme scheme is “ababbcbcc.” Well, I ask you!




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