dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘forms’

To Pantoum

I confiscated a line from a co-worker a few months ago. I don’t recall the conversation or if it was merely said in passing, but I took the line and told him I  would use it in a poem. He actually liked the idea that I would take something he said and use it in a creative way. So I jotted it down on an electronic note and promptly forgot about it.

And I do mean forgot the line totally.

Until the other day the same co-worker  asked if I had written the poem yet. Admittedly, I had not and I confessed that I couldn’t even remember what the line was, though I knew it was one of those really good, unforgettable lines. Fortunately, I keep scraps of thought and I had this one in a text for just such bits and pieces.

“I heard it through the echoes”

So having re-acquired the line and the renewed challenge to use it, my mind gnawed on it. What’s the theme? What did I hear? How do I present it?

OK. Echoes. Repetition. A pantoum. I’ve used the form once before. Here’s the format:

line1
line2
line3
line4

line2
line5
line4
line6

line5
line7
line6
line8

as many stanzas as needed

line7
line3
line8
line1

And that’s about as far as I am. More later.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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InspiRED Again

Inspiration struck again. This time from a different source and in a different way.

Kevin Rockwell, an old friend that I bunked with many years ago, showed up in town recently. We haven’t been in contact for 25 years or so, until recently on facebook. We got together for lunch this Saturday to catch up a bit. Kevin is an artist and has been doing pet portraits for individuals and pet organizations. We talked art and poetry longer than we planned. At one point, Kevin asked if I ever got writer’s block and how I dealt with it. I told him that I generally have to just sit down and write, write anything that comes to mind, regardless of whether I think it’s quality or not, to get past it.

When I got home I had some things to get done around the house. My wife was at work, so I might even have some time to write if all went well. And so it did. I thought I should take my own advice and try to throw together something on “The Sonnet”. Time to put in some perspiration.

And it paid off! I now have a completed draft.

Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ

In the Holy City with faith’s fresh start,
on a park bench—alone. With blushing shame
I read Wisdom’s Song sung from sickened heart
plagued with fever of most vehement flame:

banned by edict of darkened ruler’s claim
that young soldiers be more stout if not wed;
yet embraced by stouter priest whose sole aim,
the union of man and wife, cost his head.

This flowered crown’s among many behead
by those who deem to quench the fire of Christ,
unending flame whose strength shall raise the dead
all together whole, eternally spliced.

And I, one crumb this bread, one drop this wine,
shall ever consummate the feast divine.

This may get tweeked before final publication, but right now I’m fairly pleased with it. I constantly edit (perspire) as I write, which may or may not be the best way to get something on the page, but I can’t seem to help myself. The inspiration for this came from connecting (one of the themes of this poem is about connections). I don’t know how many times I’ve come back from a writer group session or a night of open mic poetry and want to sit down and write; write because I have thoughts and ideas to write about. Maybe not connected with the topics of discussion or the poems I heard read, but something creative gets joustled and nudged loose that needs expression.

Writing can be a lonely process, but human beings are not meant to be alone. I mentioned in a previous post that I like to reference bread and wine in some of my poems. The final couplet comes from 1 Corinthians 10:17. This is telling us that we are not alone in this. As many individuals connected together we make up that one bread, the body of Christ.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

InspiRED

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. –Thomas A. Edison

I sat down at my desk on Saturday (my morning outdoor projects were complete and I had the house all to myself) to work on “The Sonnet”. The poem that I have procrastinated, that has been a problem to write, that has plagued me. I pored over my notes about Solomon and The Song of Songs, quotes from those scriptures; the notes on Valentine, his resistance to Claudius, his beheading; the notes concerning the coming of Christ. I read through my lists of rhymes; I scoured them looking for connections. I drew lines at the top of a blank sheet to indicate iambic pentameter.  Back and forth between the three notebooks that contain a couple pages each of penciled notes and a file on Inkpad Notepad. How do I start? What words do I rhyme? Why am I doing this to myself?

And then I saw them. Two words. Two words that weren’t even on the same line. They were drawn to each other. The first just one blue line down and to the left of the second written in #2 pencil on legal pad yellow. “wisdom”. “song”. And the next word flowed out like it belonged. “sung”.

I HAVE THE START OF A LINE.

And then I notice a quote from The Song. “I am sick of love.” And the line almost finished itself.

“Wisdom’s song sung from sickened heart.”

But is it iamic pentameter? Close enough. Next line. What are some common elements of these three subjects? Fire? Plague? Losing one’s head? Where was that quote from Solomon?

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

Song of Solomon 8:6

Okay. Flame, also connected with end-time scenarios. How do I connect them? Plagues are also a part of the final days. Somehow St. Valentine is a patron saint of plagues. And there’s the line from Solomon, “I am sick of love.” How do I…

And then the next line just seemed to materialize from the tip of the pencil lead.

“plagued with fever of most vehement flame”

But the end words “heart” and “flame” aren’t even in any of my lists of rhyming words. There’s a new challenge. But now I have a direction. Now I have two lines that I didn’t have before. My 1% of inspiration. Back to perspiring.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

More RED Between the Lines

“Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ”. The as yet started (as in actual lines of poetry) sonnet, referred to henceforth as “The Sonnet”. I told you I would let you into the process of this poem, so here’s more process.

The following are my notes in one file concerning “The Sonnet”. (In front of me are two small legal pads with some notes, there’s the Inkpad file with the outline, and I know I have a few sheets of paper scattered around here somewhere with more scribblings for “The Sonnet”.) These notes are ‘as is’:

Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ: A Communion

a.    Delights of human love/celebration of love
b.    Lost his head in love
a.     “sick of love”/”a most vehement flame”
b

b.    Flower-crowned skull
c.    Plague/epilepsy
b
c

c.    Loved not their lives to the beheading death
d.    Coming with fire
c
d.

e.    Bread and wine (1 Cor 10:17; )
e.    Consummate/Holy of Holies

The two small legal pads contain notes from scripture concerning Solomon and the coming of Christ, as well as some short historical notes on Valentine (I provided links in my post “RED, shall I compare thee…?“). There are also lists of rhyming words: marry, tarry, bury; married, parried, serried; fire, pyre, desire; faint, saint, restraint; plague, vague, egg; behead, dead, bread. The lists are much longer; these are some of the highlighted, more likely to be used from those lists.

So now I have to find the right rhymes to fit the thought of each stanza and fit those thoughts into iambic pentameter without sounding stilted or forced, natural. NO PROBLEM.

But pulling out the notes, looking at them again (and again…and again), explaining out loud on (I was going to type ‘on paper’) screen what I need to accomplish is one step closer to the completed poem.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Chants of Being RED

When I started this project, I wanted to incorporate different forms; some that I’m familiar with, others I’ve never tried. Of course I use a lot of free verse, there are the list poems that I enjoy writing, the ghazal and the unfinished sonnet. What else should I use in this collection of red?

Thinking about the line “feast of martyrs” in “Red“, which apparently in Catholic tradition is symbolized by the color red, my mind went to Gregorian chants. That would be cool. But alas, in my research I found that Gregorian chant is not really a poetic form. You can chant just about anything: the Psalms, the book of Numbers, an owners manual for a Volkswagen, a grocery list. Not what I’m looking for. Further study of chants led me to African chants and those being brought to the Americas through the slave trade. These chants are a call and response. This may work.

Occasionally, I’ll throw some Spanish or Latin or some other language into a poem. I don’t speak them, I just like the sounds and sometimes it’s needed. (I have a small collection of language dictionaries of languages I’ll probably never speak.) Living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I’m aware of the rich history and cultures of the area, including Gullah. Gullah are directly related to the Africans brought to the South as slaves for the rice plantations. The language is a creole and is in use today.

I wrote the poem first in English with a short Latin refrain. I then translated it into Gullah using De Nyew Testament from the American Bible Society. The refrain is Yiddish. I don’t know if it’s an accurate translation, perhaps it may need polishing. Anyone who knows Gullah, any input welcome.

First the English version:

Feast of Martyrs: Plain Chant

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who shall feed on the feast sublime?
Those who have eaten the bread and wine.
Those who have lived on bread and wine.

Who receives strong meat of the word?
Those who have learned what us evil and good.
Those who can discern the evil and the good.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is worthy to drink of His cup?
Those who are humble and do not lift themselves up.
Any who serves and who does not lift himself up.

Who will not taste death? Who shall partake of the kingdom reign?
Those that take up the cross and show not shame.
Those that deny themselves and lose their life for His name.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is a sweet smell in the nostril of God?
Those who sacrifice for others, those who show love.
Those who give themselves for others, sacrificial love.

Who is it that pleases God?
All that believe and know His reward.
They that believe Him and know He rewards.

dies mortis
dies natalis

And now the Gullah version, the title is Haitian Creole (thank you Google Translate):

Fet nan Mati: Plen Chante

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be et de feas ob heaben?
Dey dat be etin de bread and de wine.
Dey dat libe off ob bread and wine.

Who dat git de solid food?
Dem wa laan wa ebil an wa good.
Dem wa know de diffunce twixt de ebil an de good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat fit for ta drink ob E cup?
Dem wat take low. Dem wa ain’t pit demsef op.
Dem wa saabe and ain’t pit demsef op.

Who dat be ain gwine dead? Who gwine nyam een God nation?
E dat tote da cross. E ain for shame.
E dat dohn do jes wa e wahn. E dat giib e life fa God name.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be dat smell sweet ta da nose ob God?
Dem dat sacrifice fa odas, dat gii lob.
Dey dat gii ob desef fa odas, all de time lob.

Who dat be dat be pleasing God?
All dem dat belieb. Dem dat know what E got.
Dem dat belieb Um. Dem know Um gibe tings dat be good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED Between the Lines

Okay. Let’s go back to “Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ”. Since this poem is yet to be completed, I’ll let you inside the process as I go along. This will be a first for me, so it may not be pretty.

As I mentioned in my previous post, “RED, shall I compare thee…?“, this is planned to be a sonnet. There are several forms of sonnets: the Italian or Petrarchan, the English or Shakespearian, the Spenserian, the Miltonic, and modern. I have chosen the Spenserian form because the rhyme scheme (abab bcbc cdcd ee) is interlocking. I want to dovetail these three subjects, intertwine them. That’s what true love and marriage is about. The meshing of two lives into one.

Apart from that, I’m not sure what to tell you. So here are some of the notes and scribblings I have from my research:

These are my original lines for the final couplet. They show my intent of the “interlocking lines”. I probably won’t use them.
e:  And as the interlocking lines of this sonnet song
e:  So too through consummative act, two become one.

A quote from the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba concerning the Song of Solomon:

“All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

According to Catholic.org, the flower-crowned skull of St. Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Apparently, he is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers (?), engaged couples, epilepsy (???), fainting (at weddings?), greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague (???!), travellers, and young people; and he is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Perhaps my next post about this sonnet will actually contain lines of poetry.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED, shall I compare thee…?

All but two of the poems for RED are complete: “Red: Revelation”, which will be a sort of summary of all; and “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ”. The former is not complete because I want to wait until all other poems are finished. The latter is not done because I want to frame it in a sonnet, and for me that is not an easy task; strict forms are not what I normally do.

When one thinks of sonnets, one tends to think of Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Browning. Big names. The bar is set high. And so it should be. The topic–intimate love, marriage, consummation–is worthy of being set in such a lofty form. But, alas, I have never written a sonnet. Seventeen lines of iambic pentameter. With a rhyme scheme. And a volta (a whata?), or turn, that is supposedly essential to a sonnet. This is a heavy commitment for setting pen to page. As it should be. So is the topic.

I normally write free verse. No meter. No rhyme. Occassionally, when the topic merits, I will use an appropriate form. At least attempt the form. This poem will attempt to compare the “Song of Solomon“, a book about which the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba is quoted as saying, “All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies”; the martyrdom by beheading of the Catholic priest Valentine for performing marriages of young Christians in Rome; and the marriage feast of the Lamb, the return of Christ for his bride, the Church.

So, yeah. I haven’t got this one done yet.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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