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This is a writing community with a core membership of 20 ‘Toads’. We extend an open invitation to Followers and Visitors in all our prompts and challenges, asking only that you enter into the spirit of our Mission Statement.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Mini-Challenge for Sunday

A Classic Hit...




I have been freshly inspired by several poems linked to our Imaginary Garden which have recalled the classics of poetry and literature.  For our Sunday challenge, I have selected the Emily Dickinson ballad stanza. 


Emily Dickinson preferred the structure to be found in ballads, returning to this ancient traditional verse form of the Middle Ages for much of her poetry.


Each stanza or quatrain alternates lines of iambic tetrameter (8 syllables) and iambic trimeter (six syllables), with an ABCB rhyme scheme.  Dickinson's stanzas were not always in strict iambs, though she retained the syllable count, so do not feel daunted about checking to see if every second syllable is stressed.


Schematic:


xxxxxxxA
xxxxxB
xxxxxxxC
xxxxxB


She often used slant rhyme on lines 2 and 4, rather than full rhyme, which is consistent in the consonants rather than the vowels. This can be seen in poem # 339 below.  


Dickinson's  poems might consist of between one and six stanzas and her use of punctuation was idiosyncratic.


202


"Faith" is a fine invention
For Gentlemen who see!
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency!


339


I like a look of Agony,
Because I know it's true -
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate a Throe -


The eyes glaze once - and that is Death -
Impossible to feign
The Beads upon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.


449


I died for Beauty - but was scarce
Adjusted to the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining Room -


He questioned softly 'Why I failed'?
'For Beauty', I replied -
'And I - for Truth - Themself are One -
We Bretheren, are', He said - 


And so, as Kinsmen, met at Night -
We talked between the Rooms -
Until the Moss had reached our lips -
And covered up - our names -


Emily Dickinson was in a class of her own; she defied convention and reinvented this form to such an extent that it has become recognizably her style.  Is it possible to emulate her style without turning it into a parody? Let's give it a try today.  


The link below will not expire, so poems may be linked up later in the week.







11 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

I have linked up a poem I wrote a while ago in this style - by way of example to start us off.

Have fun.. and a wonderful Sunday to all.

Fireblossom said...

*big grin*

my girl!

hedgewitch said...

Kerry--I was NOT going to do any prompts today--but of course, once again you hit a nerve--I have an older poem in what I thought at the time was an Emily style(from 1986, yeesh) and have been wanting to shape it up forever, so now I'm feeling there's no excuse not to tackle it--it's rather long, so may be awhile before I get it up, but, poetry gods and goddesses willing, I shall return.

Sheila Moore said...

thanks, Kerry. This is my first link up with real toads :)

Kay L. Davies said...

I'm having fun with this one, Kerry. I love ballads, and I've been laughing on and off all day about Dickinson's "use of punctuation was idiosyncratic"! Poem 449 is a perfect illustration of that idiosyncrasy. Wonderful!

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Fireblossom said...

It wasn't until the 1950s (!) that Emily's poems were published as she wrote them, without the idiosyncratic stuff "corrected" by academics. Unreal.

Jinksy said...

I too, linked to one I did earlier this year, as it seems to fit the bill! :)

Cad said...

I'm a balladeer by nature, I think. I couldn't resist writing this one, anyhow.

Mary Ann Potter said...

Whew! I had to learn to be a bit spare with this one. I tend to be verbose and adjectival! 8-)

zongrik said...

this one comes kind of close...

Marian said...

better late than never (insert your favorite punctuation here)