Since I first started blogging three years ago I’ve learned to embrace the joys of the old traditional patterns of constructing poetry.
I’ve learned the art of counting minimal syllables in haiku (5-7-5) regardless of where the stresses lay and without the requirement of rhyme. Ideally, the first and second lines together make a complete sentence, as do the second and third lines together, and the first and third lines should give some sense of opposing meaning. That’s no mean feat to fit into 17 short syllables!
I’ve also discovered the endless fun to be found in grouping together triple (and double) multiples of threes in a light-hearted limerick, with the stress on every third syllable (da-da-DA-da-da-DA-da-da-DA) in five lines of 9-9-6-6-9 syllables following a fixed rhyming pattern of A-A-B-B-A. Smutty and bawdy topics welcomed with suitably naughty sniggers and guffaws.
My latest experiment in poetry, however, is writing within the constraints of ‘iambic pentameter’ inherent in the English sonnet. Although in some ways the simplest of rhythms to use, iambic pentameter can prove quite challenging at times in finding just the right words to create the required flow. ‘Iambic’ describes an unstress/stress (da-DA) and ‘pentameter’ describes five of these iambs in each line (da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA).
So the pattern of stresses here is fixed on every second syllable in a line of ten, with a specfic rhyming pattern set out over fourteen lines in total. These fourteen lines are further broken down into three sets of four lines (quatrains) and then two lines on their own at the end (rhyming couplet) with a rhyming pattern of A-B-A-B, C-D-C-D, E-F-E-F, GG. And for good measure, each section has its own job to do.
The first quatrain sets out the ‘problem’, the second expands on it, the third shows an inexpected turn in proceedings – a ‘volta’, usually introduced with a ‘but’ – and the final rhyming couplet sets out the ‘solution’. I’ve been playing about with using simple ideas to build up some experience with writing sonnets – here’s an example that hopefully shows my love of poetic word patterns, as well as my life-long love of sewing. For me, there’s a similar soothing rhythm to be found in both… 🙂
Make Do and Mend…
My needle pricks through over-stressed ripped seam
Thread follows, undulating in its wake
My fingers deftly working in a dream
Frayed edges dictating which route to take
My making-do-and-mend thrift-driven quest
Soon covers up the worst of fabric’s flaws
Scar visible though stitches do their best
Seam strengthened underneath with lightweight gauze
But now my task takes on creative bent
As thoughtfully I choose a matching trim
Add extra emphasis to new-healed rent
Make beautiful my mending on a whim
And soon again my lovely dress I’ll wear
A band of lace disguising jagged tear…