Friday, February 15, 2013

Fireblossom Goes Old School!

Hello sweet Toads and Toad followers! Fireblossom here with another Fireblossom Friday challenge. I bet most of you are expecting some simple-simon easy-peasy free verse thing, am I right? Anyone? Hands?


Today, I am feeling strict. Today, we are going to do form. Today, we are going to do iambs! Go ahead, groan like the spirits of the damned, I've made up my mind. But first...a gruesome--and true!--story. 

When I was young, and my (much older) brothers had flown the coop, my father took his only girl to Tiger Stadium to see a football game. The Lions, as I understand was and is their wont, were losing, but had started to mount a rally that day. A play had just been run, and everyone was trotting back to their positions, when one of the Lions players fell over and lay still. Another Lion walked by and glanced at him but kept walking. Then, the biggest and baddest of the Chicago Bears walked up and started motioning frantically to the Lions' bench. Trainers came out, then doctors, on the run. The old stadium went hushed as people tried frantically to revive the fallen player, whose name was Chuck Hughes. He was hustled away on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance, but he was already dead. I'll never forget it.

And so, that brings us back to poetry. I love the English poets of the Victorian era, who used iambs (an iamb is a metric foot--two syllables--with the first syllable unstressed and the second one stressed) extensively. One of my favorites among them is A.E. Housman, and perhaps his most famous piece is "To An Athlete Dying Young." it is also a fine example of what I'm talking about:

The time you won your town the race,
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Here is today's challenge. I want you to write a poem using iambs, and to observe the following line and syllable counts:

3 stanzas of four lines each.

The first and third stanzas will have four lines with syllable counts of 8,6,8 and 6. (Or, four iambic feet, three, then four, then three again.)

The second, or middle, stanza will differ. It will have only one syllable in the first line (in other words, NOT an iamb), four in the second, one in the third, and six in the last, or 1,4,1,6.

The entire poem should be like this in terms of syllables:




It may rhyme, or not, as you choose, and if you want to make it longer, you can add stanzas that repeat the pattern. I hope you will try (and enjoy!) my form challenge, but if you feel that you simply can't deal with it, you may compose a poem about an athlete, using any form, including free verse. You can even let them live! I only ask that today's poems be NEW poems composed especially for this challenge. Then sign the linky and I'll come to see what everyone has done!

PS--If your post doesn't use the syllable count challenge I have laid out, or the non-form alternative (simply writing about an athlete), then please don't link. Thank you!