Part Five – Write up of poems read

Canto XLV

Ezra Pound

Its about loans which is an odd thing to write a poem about

He basically says creativity cannot exist with loans or high loans

He starts saying that you can’t have the basics of life with loans as that life is not built solid

He uses old language “hath” “re3ceiveth” even though ti was written in last century which seems odd

Only one stanza

Repeats “with Usura”

I don’t understand what he has done with capitals

Lines 3-20 have no caps at start of line and apart from the occasional comma no full stops until end of line 20. But the last 13 or so lines have caps at start of each line. It seems to add emphasis to those lines as if he starts off poem grumbling but then explodes “WITH USURA” and starts to get angry.


Lawrence Durrell (yes – of The Durrells!)

Every single first word of each line is capitalized and I don’t know why. I guess it does not matter really but I feel I should know in order to write poetry and talk sensibly about the decisions I make.

The images are strong but seem more like countryside that city

Mountain roads

Mule teams

Sleepy eagles


Maybe it was a sleepy town

4 stanzas

1st– 7 lines

2nd– 6 lines

3rd– 6 lines

4th– 5 lines

No rhyme

Seems like full punctuation

Some sentences end mid line

The Gypsy

Ezra Pound

Written before WW1 and you can tell. Nice little poem about a gypsy. I like the way it looks. The variable lengths of the lines.

You know what I like best about this (it’s a moment, its simple) but its written as it is spoken each line ends at a natural breath and the lines that done’t are indented beneath,. I can understand that.

Do not go gentle

Dylan Thomas

A Villanelle – I like seeing that and it works – I might try

19 line poem

5 Tercets – 3

1 quatrain – 4

Two refrains

Two repeating rhymes

First and third line of first tercet repeated

Form frequesntly used for obsessions (Wikipedia)



Pentameter possibly iambic

Caps at start of each line


E.P. Ode Pour L’Election de son Sepulchre

Ezra Pound

I found this hard to follow. It seemed like Ginsberg’s Howl in some sense that he’s raging against war and politics: “A half savage country”

He uses foreign words in places that I don’t understand and references to old myths: Dionysus and Sappho which gives it an old fashion feel but then throws in “phallic” which is quite modern along with “ambrosial” which makes it old/new and erotic. So it is odd.

But then wasn’t Pound?

In stanza IV he has quite a bit of repetition: some and home

I like stanza IV the best. It is the one that makes most sense. It is about the horrors of WW1. AS I’ve done a lot of work on WW1 it resonates with me.


From Epitaphs of the War

Rudyard Kipling

Seems they are just snippets from larger piece but I like them. Very simple.

It throws out the anger about WW1 – the young were killed and it was thought for nothing. That is up for debate but it seems RK thought so as did many artists of the time. A Dead Statesman has six lines, four feet (so tetrameter?), and rhyming like this AA BB CC – very simple.


Allen Ginsberg

Similar to Howl – like prose and very political which is probably why I don’t like it [political – but I did like Howl]

3 pages long

It’s a rant in poetry form which is what he was famous for – Beat poet

Patti Smith was influenced by Beat Poets

It was a rejection of all traditional ways.


I did not lose my heart to summer’s even

AE Housman

Wonderful original imagery

Shocked me

I thought it was a love poem

And in some ways it is but gay love

Two stanzas – 4 lines each – pentameter possibly iambic

2/4 line each stanza rhymes at end



Noel Coward

A 3 page long poem about the death of Queen Victoria

Rather irreverent but not nasty or mean. Just poking fun.

A bit like a list poem of things she had represented.

Capitals at beginning of line but that was the fashion and punctuation.

Compares QV death with his Auntie Cordelia’s

Most lines end at a breath


Autumn Morning at Cambridge

Frances Cornford

Very Simple Poem about what it says

2 stanzas 4 lines each rhymes AA BB CC DD


14 syllables per line – 7 what is that?

Except last line of stanza

Last Stanza

Irregular lines



John Masefield

Simple poem about three different ships and their cargos

3 stanzas – each 5 lines

Caps at start of first word of line – punctuation

Varying form

3rdStanza (1stand 2ndstanza similar)

12 syllables – first line

11 syllables – 2ndline

7 syllables – 3rdline

4 syllables – 4thline

10 syllables – 5 line

2 and 5 lines rhyme


Rome and Another

William Watson

Simple poem about Queen Victoria and her empire – and how all empires come to an end

2 stanzas – 4 lines each – caps at beginning – punctuation (seeing a pattern here in poems before WW1)




John Mansfield

Obsessive forward-driven poem about the sea and sailing

With lots of ands in that show this

3 stanzas – 4 lines (some tabbed over 2 lines)

Rhyme – AA BB CC DD etc


Part Four – Write up of poems read

For the Fallen

Laurence Binyon

Grand Language used

‘into immortal spheres’

‘a glory that shines up on tears’

‘straight of limb’

‘proud thanksgiving’

‘death august and royal heavenly plain’

No particular metrical form that I can make out

7 stanzas and 4 lines each

Ends of 2 and 4 line rhyme

Death and Night are capitalized

England is made into a person – personification – in the first stanza

The poem feels like it is seeking to calm a nation in its sorrow


The Vacuum

Howard Nemerov

Three stanzas 5 lines ech

The vacuum is used as a metaphor for his wife

The first lines seem to have a similar rhythm with a slight difference in syllable amounts

Da Da Da Da Da Da Da Da

The first letter of each line is capitalized

It feels like with each stanza he says the first line as a statement and then the other four lines as run ons like he is mumbling under his breath – like:

‘I got this to say

But if she were alive

Now she’d stop me and make

Me go do the washing up’ [my words]


Love: Beginnings

CK Williams

It’s about desire between a couple – not the actual sex – it seems more the way it shows as they are together – at the beginning of a relationship with desire is strong.

No stanzas but written with each other line indented like the idea runs over to the other line.

The breath is at the end of the second line (or the even lines)

16 lines but only one sentence.

This made me consider why there are stanzas – still not sure but trying it out with farmer’s wife – see if the 3 stanzas for separate ideas works.

It seems stanzas hold different ideas or portions of the one whole that is the poem.

With this poem it seems each two lines has an idea

So there are 8 ideas in a sentence about the beginning of love and how it is shown in this couple and seems to be universal.

It does seem like a good idea – I have lines that go on over the “line” and indenting them would be a good idea – like my “I remember” – or Howl.



Tess Gallagher

I don’t understand much about this poem

And don’t like it

It seems to be about mourning but I don’t relate

4 stanzas

1st– 3 lines (1 sentence)

2nd– 2 lines (2 sentences)

3rd– 2 lines (1 sentence)

4th– 1 line (2 sentences)

Again it seems the stanzas hold a different idea so if I go off on tangents, it can be a new stanza.


Desire’s a Desire

Selima Hill

At first I didn’t like this. It seemed preachy and strange. But I read a little about the poet and I have started to like it now.

I don’t think I will ever write a poem like this.

Well of course not because I don’t have the life and experiences of Hill but I know mental illness and I know desire.

I think I also didn’t like it because it’s feminist in its preachiness and I find that hard but I am a feminist so I can relate. Well I’m a woman and can relate which is more important.

2 stanzas – first long 24 lines – second short four lines

I don’t understand it all but my understanding of the last line

“to be free of desire” says to me “free of men’s desire” that universal desire that destroys not the intimate desire that is part of a relationship.

It is the building site men that holler

It is the guys in the clubs that want to dance

Its those in the pubs who want to buy drinks.

It is the #metoo.

First stanza is one sentence each line starts with no capitalization.

Second stanza is three sentences.

It is full of similes – 9 of them.


Rasin Pumpernickel

Marge Piercy

Let’s test the one idea per stanza theory.

It pretty much is

The penultimate stanza seems to have more than one but when it comes down to it – it really is just the idea that “why is she still in love with him – he’s devious, bold, and direct – but still the best novel she’s ever read.”

I love that metaphor – the novel.

Seven stanzas – each five lines.

First four have questions at the end with repetitive “so are you…” The questions don’t have questions marks so they really are statements “so are you happy”. That he is happy and this is how above rather than “are you happy?”

Different sentence.

She could have said

“Thus are you happy” but that is rather old school. She chose “so” instead which gives you an idea of when this was written.

4thstanza she writes repetitive “now it” at the beginning of 2,3,4 lines. I could do something like that with my I remember poem – instead of I remember… I would like to choose something different, but it has to be for a reason.

Many similes and metaphors

“like a sugar maple”

“as silk scarves”

“fierce butter”

“tomcat a ready lover” etc.

The punctuation is proper and some stanzas have two sentences while others have more.

If a sentence goes over the line there is no capitalization on the next line.


To Autumn

John Keats

Seasons of Mists and meloow fruitfulness

Reminds me of mum

If I have a connection to a poem (like mum likes this and dad had it framed for her) I tend to like it if the connection is good (dad framed it)

The lines are not short

The end words rhyme but not each line it is like this


3 stanzas

11 lines each

I don’t know if this is a set form but I will look

Its pretty complicated form wise. Apparently, its structure is odal hymn – English ode 17the century (these were iambic but irregular line length).

Strophe – first part of ode – ancient Greek now – division of poem with stanza of varying line length

Antistrophe – nature of a reply balances effect of strophe

Epode – third part of the ode – completes the movement – with choir chants to left then right then epode comes together in the middle.

Milton ‘strophe antistrophe epode were a kind of stanza framed for the music when used with the chorus that sang’


Sonnet 73 – Autumn Theme


Typical Shakespeare rhythm and words ‘doth, thou, seest’ etc.

Shakespeare sonnet – 14 lines iambic pentameter


Great form

I like Sh Sonnets – they are comforting in their form.

This is about Autumn and the coming to the end of life

I enjoyed it


Autumn Day

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wonderful poem – clever but easy to understand – not too clever for its own good.

3 stanzas

1st3 lines

2nd4 lines

3rd5 lines

First two stanzas describe autumn ‘lay your shadow on the sundials’

The last one describes the autumn of our lives ‘whoever has no house now will not build one any more’


Ee cummings

I read Tulips and Chimneys

The poems are very clever

They fall down

They move

They twirl

They say what they mean

They are original

I want to write like that


Part 3 – Write up of Poems

Lord Byron

Lines Inscribed upon a Cup Formed from a Skull

Title explains the whole poem

Enjoyed the rhythm and rhymes


“And when, alas! Our brains are gone,

What nobler substitute than wine?”


Fragment from Don Juan

I didn’t finish it

He was amusing – the first verse is mostly about the protagonist being hungover

“And so – for God’s sake – hock and soda water!”

Signs from Byron’s age that I do not understand such as

“Sir Humphrey Davy’s lantern, by which coals”

I think it was an invention so miners could see when working as next line is

“Are safely mined…”

It seems to be a story but I am not hooked in too much to see where it goes having said that I am having difficulty in the second read to move on to the next poem. But he is easier to read than Shelley.

His rhythm/meter is easy and pleasurable – no nasty jolts

I thought Donna Julia was a lady but in one line he makes her sound common:

“’In heaven’s name, Don Alfonso, what d’ye mean?’”

Not sure if he was trying to force syllables to fit or if in his time ladies sounded like that


On this Day I Complete my Thirty-Sixth Year

The title again explains the poem

He feels old

“My days are in the yellow leaf”

“The fire that on my bosom preys…

A funeral pile”

I would guess it is a poem about old age but 36 does not seem old now


Percy Shelley


From the Daemon of the World

Why is daemon spelt that way?

Seems to be about death (clue is in the first line)

“How wonderful is Death”

He capitalizes words in a way we do not, e.g., Death, Sleep, Skeleton, Silence. Is that to highlight these words or to give them abstract meaning that is not altogether obvious – especially to one who has not read a lot of old poets.

He mentions Isanthe as if we all know who that is

As is said, poetry then as for the elite, intellectual

Poem rhythm not so pleasurable as Byron


From the Mask of Anarcy

[massacre at Manchester*]

I had to look this up – Peterloo*

The rhythm is easier to read than Daemon but the imagery is quite abstract – full of ideas rather than particular detail

“I met Murder on the way

He had a mast like Castlereagh”

There’s that capitalizing again (M)


From Letter to Maria Gisburne

He seems to be describing London a town I know well – my home town

I like his first lines they ring true to me. Then he goes on to describe a bunch of names. Not sure if they are statues or tombs. If I researched I would probably find out but to the uneducated I found it hard to see my London in this poem.

First lines

“You are now

In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow

At one is deaf and loud, and on the shore

Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more

Yet in its depth what treasures…”


From Adonais

Sounds like a poem written to a beautiful (Adonais) lover who has died

“A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vein”

Maybe the love has died not the person


The Cold earth slept Below

My favorite Shelley of the small amount I read

This poem has more particular details

“The wintry hedge was black

The green grass was not seen

The birds did rest of the bare thorn’s breast”

No capitalizing odd words either

Seems to be about a moment in the night as they are out walking he sees his beloved and she/he is cold or dead – probably death – this seems a theme with Shelley


Fleur Adcock (Staying Alive (SA))

For a Five Year Old

A simple poem about taching her child to save snails despite the fact that she has hurt other beings in her life

First verse has particulars in it

“A snail is climbing up the window sill”

The second verse is more abstract like thoughts and opinions

Rhythm is pleasing

Sounds like a sonnet (Shakespear) not enough lines though

Rhymes are ABBCCDDA

I think it is all iambic pentameter (but what do I know eh?)

Except last line which is 3 feet iambic again (maybe?)

Advice to a Discarded Lover

Title describes poem

The poem uses a dead bird as an analogy for a dead relationship.

When the bird dies – we feel pity

“Pity is for the moment of death”

But when the bird is rotting with maggots we feel revulsion – as in the self-pitying nature of the discarded lover

“You are eaten up by self-pity, crawling with unlovable pathos.”

But once the flesh is eaten away and you are left with bones and feathers – you are no longer offensive – she tells her lover:

“go away until your bones are clean”

These two poems are easy to understand unlike Byron and Shelley. Accessible

As workbook (WB) says: nine syllables – no official meter with “assonance rather than rhyme: change/scaverners”

Interesting – might copy that style

Eleanor Brown (SA)


“Trad form to satirical effect” WB

This is a funny poem and easy to understand. She tells her friend she does not like his new girlfriend. That she is boring and lacking in charm and wit!

“along with a charm that is so understated

It’s easy for people to miss.”

W.H. Auden (SA)

O tell me the trust about love

“uses two familiar metrical song shapes” WB

The first, third, and fifth verses are one line iambic tetrameter (4?) and one line iambic trimeter (3?)

Then the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7thromp along with one line trochee pentameter and one line trochee tetrameter (4?)

Lots of questions about love

Easy to understand

Pleasing rhythms

Kit Wright (SA)

The All Purpose Country and Western…

Sounds like a C&W soung

Typical blues subject with humour

“so forgive me if I should break wind, son,

Forgive me if I should break wind”

The break of the lines helps to give the C&W rhythm and you can almost hear the tune.

David Scott (SA)

Scattering Ashes

“not metrical, but has its own delicate rhythm” WB

Title describes the poem

Very simple poem

About scattering ashes in the places that

“he drove to himself to drop hay”

Easy to understand

Most of the lines are enjambed

An interesting description

“Arms were wrapped like scarves round shoulders”

Katrina Porteous (SA)

Seven Silences

“the four line verses are irregular and their structure depends on the listing of seven moments” WB

It helped to have CB tell me what this was about. Not too obvious from first reading.

A little preachy but some nice imagery:

“The next silence is the worst silence. This is the silence

of a steaming kitchen at 3am”

The end dies for me as it is about lack of parliamentary help (yawn)

“Nothing but frozen faces, and the last silence

A barred gate.”

Carl Sandburg (SA)


“free unrhymed form” WB*

Hmmm… dull…

Didn’t like this one


“And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun”


Ted Hughes (SA)

Full Moon and Little Frieda*

Takes a few reads to grasp

Interesting imagery

“The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work

That points at him amazed”

Can’t really follow what he is saying

Zbigniew Herbert (SA)


Oooo a prose poem

I like that – it is almost like a large Haiku in that it is succinct and describes a moment

Just a moment with a child and a conch

“In front of the mirror in my parent’s bedroom lay a pink conch.”


Percy Shelley


Stanzas written in dejection, near Naples


I enjoyed this after second reading

I especially liked the first two verses as they described where he is

The last verses are more of a lament about how hard his life is and that no one will care if he dies

I like the rhythm and form too but the last line of each verse jars. I guess it is supposed to.

Nine line verses

First 8 lines have 8 syllables

Last line has 12 syllables


The title describes the poem


Songs to the Men of England


Bit preachy and call to arms

Complaining about the plight of the common man (not that Shelley was one of them)

The rhythm sounds like a mrch

8 verses each 4 lines

6 Syllables per line

Simple rhymes AABB CCDD etc


William Blake


To the Muses


I am more likely to give Blake a change because of Patti Smith

I had no idea what this was about

He uses the word “Ida” as if we know the reference

“Whether on Ida’s shady brow”

Antient – I need to look up that word – he says it twice

Antient – old word for ancient – funny really

I guess the title gives a clue as to the poems meaning

He’s writing to his muses – let’s start from there – the heavenly creatures who help us produce great literature…

“Fair Nine” who are they

Are there nine muses? The daughters of  Mnemosyne and Zeus  – apparently

It seems they are “forsaking Poetry” (there are those damn capitals again!)

He is lamenting the loss of the muses

I guess he cannot write

But he just did – so odd – lol!

I like the descriptions in the third verse

“Whether on Chrystal rocks ye rove,

Beneath the bosom of the sea

Wandering in many a coral grove” (Coral Sea is a book by Patti Smith)


Four verses – 4 lines each

8 syllables in each line

Rhymes ABAB CDCD etc.


Introduction to Songs of Innocence


Cute little poem

Almost like a nursery rhyme

Easy to understand

A child asks him to pipe and sing songs he likes and then asks him to write them down

5 verses of 4 lines each

7 syllables per line


He capitalizes Lamb in

“Pipe a song about a Lamb”

That could be about God – Lamb of God

So maybe the reason he songs give him such “chear” (odd spelling) is because they are about God


Then the child disappears – was he an angel or a muse?


The Ecchoing Green


Echo – Eccho? Different spelling. He says “chearful” too

Simple poem about the village green from dwn to dusk

Welcoming the spring

3 verses 10 lines each

Syllables 1stverse mostly 5 syllables but occasionally 6

The six lines sound like skipping

“And make” “To the” “While our” “on the”

Same with second verse

Third verse is a variety of 5, 6, and 7 syllables – he is not fond of forms in this poem

The poem is like life from start – children – to end – “the darkening green”


Holy Thursday


About St Pauls congregation

The form sort of sings along but there are some complex halting moments

Like “innocent”

“Till into the high dome of Paul’s Innocent”

Not sure what it all means but it seems to talk about the church, the innocent children, the aged men. And we are told to cherish pity for the poor or you will send the angels away (go to hell).


Jolly little poem (not!)


On another’s Sorrow


Another religious poem about how God is close during our sorrows

The words slow the poem down at times

“And not be in sorrow too?

And not seek for kind relief?”


The “and” slows it down


It’s a poem that asks if we are affected by another’s sorrow and if we are, can we see that so is God.


Form – 9 verses – 7 syllables a line until third verse

“an infant groan an infant fear?”


The School Boy


I like the start that describes the morning

“When the birds sing on every tree

The distant huntsman winds his horn

And the skylark sings with me”

I can visualize all of that and hear the sounds. Makes me wonder what it was like to hear a huntsman’s horn. Is that like the hunters who used to chase foxes?

The rest of the poem is okay but I’m not sure if it is about school children who hate school or about caged children – maybe even children who are used for labour rather than just be a child – or I might be overthinking it all.


There seems to be little form in syllables

6 verses – 5 lines



16thCentury Poem (possibly 15thCentury)



The Nutbrown Maid

Quite long but seems intriguing

Not sure of the language

A little Shakespearean but written before Shakespeare

It has a sing song rhythm

De D De Dum De Da De Dum

De D De D De Da

Easy to read

Seems so far the squire has done something wrong and is banished to the greewood (sounds like Robin Hood) and the Nut Brown Maid wants to go with him because she loves but him alone.

Squire doesn’t like that idea because she will be thought of as a wanton woman.

In the end, the squire says that he is not banished but was just trying to prove the lady’s love.

The words are interesting, eg., sith for since

People spoke differently back then


John Skelton


To Mistress Margaret Hussey

Almost like a list poem

Listing her charms

He add’s the same two lines at the end of each verse

“Gentle as falcon

Or hawk of the tower.”

Second verse rhymes at end like this AAABBBCCCDDDEFE

The rhymes are for simple endings to words like ‘ly’ ‘ing’ ‘ness’

Old words that have little meaning to me unless I research them ‘Isyphill’ ‘Coliander’ ‘Cassander’


My Darling dear my Daisy Flower

A love or lust song

A man lieing in the lap of his love

Again he repeats the last two lines fo the verse

“With hey lullay lullay like a child

Thou sleepest too long thought art beguiled.”

Such old words ‘lullay’ ‘thou’ ‘sleepest’ ‘art’

All these poems so far sound like Shakespeare

It feels to me like why read these ones when Shakespeare was considered the genius.


Stephen Hawes


Against Swearing

This is different in 16thcentury

A lot of lines are single words sounds like he’s wounded and dying and asking God to take him quickly

Read it again and it could be Jesus on the cross

Again ancient words ‘hie’ ‘aslake’ ‘woundes’

I like it because it is not like Shakespeare

Its interesting the way the lines grow and shorten again.



Part 3 – Exercise Two

Cats the way they move

Softly padding

Like ballet dancers

Or ballet dancers like cats

Dropping on their feet

With no sound

Black cat

Creeps up behind mouse

Watches it

Plays with it

Tail flicks at the end


Milly the Black Cat

She drops from the stonewall with no sound

As if a ballet dancer leaped from the arms

Of her partner and pirouetted away

Her paws pad across the wet grass

Stopping at the deck, her nose twitches

And her long tail flicks at the end


Queen Milly

Milly jumps up on the stone wall and walks along the edge

She leaps down to the wet grass as if she were a ballerina

Pirouetting across the stage

She makes her way over to the deck

How does her body move

She struts like a panther like she owns the neighbourhood

She is the cat of the neighbourhood

She is confident

She sits outside our house and waits till we open the door

And expects to be let in

She’s nosy and looks in all the corners

She’s black, slender, with a belly as if at one time she were pregnant or likes her food

The sound the male cate makes territorial like the song of the howling hyenas or wolves or…

Like she owns the neighbourhood – cliché

She is confident – abstract

She holds her head up

Moves like liquid chocolate sliding along the pavement – padding along the pavement


Is it she who howls at night

As if she is being strangled (cliché)

Or the ugly mutt of a cat

Who sprays the deck

More about ugly mutt

He has a scar across his eye

Makes him look cross-eyed and mean

Milly – Sitting still under the garden bench like a sphinx, head bowed, eyes closed, paws stretched out in front


Part 3 – Ex 1 – A wedding ring on an old finger

My mother’s finger

No wedding ring

Wrinkled hand

Sun spots

Divorce – sorrow – gay husband


Gay marriage – no marriage

Lost her girlfriend as her home was just finished and her life seemed to be taking off.


This finger used to wear a wedding ring

On the third finger of her left hand

She wears purple slippers

In lavender, she sits
in a well-stuffed armchair

Frost on the window ledge
an interface with the world

Short, spiky grey hair
wrinkles over her forehead
above dove grey eyes

No ring graces her left hand

He left her to wander in her garden
feed seeds to robin red breasts
fill water in the iron birdbath
tend to a bush of sweet, pink camellias
sip ginger tea in front of tennis
and as the evening glow appears
above the tiled roof tops
struggle up the stairs to bed alone.

Notes on The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing by David Morley

Chapter on Writing Poetry (8)

Cellular life of poem is its language

Many poets say that something else takes over a poet when they write*

Richard Hugo says “How you feel about yourself is probably the most important feeling you have”

*RH also says that all those ideas imply that the self as given is inadequate

I feel that about older poetry they were trying to exclude people and make it seem that poetry was for the elite/special people.

All language possesses rhythm

Rhythm is used to create and defend territory and communicate.

Whale song, owl’s call, bird song

Metre and rhyme

Rhythm of language and rhyme engages you.

We stress some words more than others

No final science on this

A lover may sound words differently than a murderer – a good poet plays with this

Poetry sings, says, whispers, shouts – intentionally

Lines of poems have metre

Stressed syllables counted into feet

Terms given to various patterns, e.g., spondee – two stresses

Most common pattern is iambic pentameter

Iamb is a foot with unstressed and stressed syllables

“A ball will bounce, but less and less” This iambic line (4 stresses) imitates the ball

Stanzas (verses) make meaning, line, and shape

Many traditional forms had origins in song

Regular metre, rhyme and form help remember poem

Rhyme and time sound the same but look different

A “full-rhyme” like “full-time” can be played on by a half-rhyme like “fall-time” or “full room”

Repetition devices shape a poem and carry it forward

I am the womb of every hull

I am the blaze on every hill etc

Hearing your own nature

Our language is our first song

Birdsong of our species

“Many poets teach the technical apparatus of metre and versification… a purely technical focus on the early stages can make a beginning writer run for cover “

Very good to hear that above – I can want to run for cover with all the metre etc.

Rest of chapter unfolds maps for finding our way into the language of poetry; exploring introductory modes for making poems and myths that might hold you back.

Poets place value on language above every other literary consideration

Reading poems helps you understand if you are getting it right

Some poets write to preserve moments of significance

“A butterfly’s shadow passing over his hand”

Observation and memory important to poems as character and story to fiction

Poems try to create a small clear world.

assign 3

Awakening language

Meaning and Being

Words are sticky with meaning, history, and association

Choice and combination are crucial in poetry [and all creative writing but especially poetry]

Words we:

Hear “click” “chuckle”

See “freckled” “veined”

Taste “vinegar” “sugar” “honey”

Touch “prickle” “oily”

Smell “tar” “onion”

Words that act “flick” “balance”

Poems should be clear and not need further explanation

We sometimes think they should be mystical and obscure but this is not the case.

Poems do not need to mean anything significant nor justify their existence in social or political terms

“A bad poem is one that vanishes into meaning” Valery

“All bad poetry is sincere” Wilde

Subjects and Ways of Saying

It is what your poem is not what your poem says that makes it work

It is how you write it

The problem is that new writers have been taught to view poetry through over-serious and personal spectacles

Shaping Language


Sets up a reader’s expectations

A reader expects something different from a sonnet than a haiku

For not a mould rather a sieve to catch certain material

Free verse

Not free – often harder than writing in form

Freedom from fixed forms of metre and rhyme

Free form uses devices like alliteration, figures of speech and imagery

Good free verse harder to write than good formed verse

James Fenton thinks DH Laurence  unmetred poems better than metred



As if she had spilt

From cherries, from holly, from

A shake of nightshade

Simple but concise words that show the colour of the Redpoll (whatever a red poll is… oh yes it’s a bird)

Subverting Form

A good sonnet about contemporary war would subvert form of sonnet, which is usually about love

A dark limerick would similarly turn that form inside out

Shaping Sequence and Collection

A group of poems can be set in sequence depending on what they are about or any sequence that gives them further form

Playing with Language

Volcano and Diamonds

Read a lot of poetry to develop your discrimination (volcano spews a lot of ash etc but might send out the odd diamond)

Many species of poems:

Christmas Carols

Nursery Rhymes



Prose poetry

The blues

Read five poems a day

Read backwards in time

“Found poetry” in museum labels, office memos, etc

Write a lot of poetry to get a little




Notes on Coursebook Part Three

Problems writing in traditional form

It can happen when hunting for the right rhyme that you approximate tone, meaning or association, which can pull poem off track, undermining your thinking, and weaken your writing.

First part of poem (fragment)

I am a rose –

a hidden symphony

played out in velvet,

The opening prelude –

guarded petals to

a budding pianissimo…”

Imagery mostly taken from music with moody adjectives – all rather luscious but vague and chocolate box imagery.

Second part of poem (fragment)

I am a rose –

Interflora’s perfumed agent,

a global language for communication,

St. Valentine’s ardent messenger,

the naked model of the Dutch school.

Not the cloned imitation of hats and handbags…”

She removed the first two verses and developed the last two. Thus making a statement on phniness. Now the rose was observed in positives and negatives.

Emily Dickenson: tell all the truth but tell it slant

CB says the slant on truth; let it be your own [your own way of looking at life and your experience is “the slant”]

Assignment 2 – Reflections on Tutor’s Comments

The way that poems are laid on the page is important. The way a poem looks is important. Usually, they are single line spaced unless there is a good reason why not.

Punctuation is only necessary to guide the reader as to the writer’s intentions. I find this hard to understand and do. And it has to be consistent, but I cannot find the rules. Poems are not prose, and do not follow the rules of prose, but punctuation needs to be consistent. I will just do my best to understand what that means. And read a lot about it…

I have control over my lines and how I use them – and what words I chose at the end. This is something I struggle with too. Apparently, you can end them where the breath or meaning ends or you can take the meaning over to the next line to take the reader along which seems to speed up the poetry. But when I used long lines – the tutor said it was jerky and jumpy but not that it was wrong just that it did not make it slower.

Capitals at the beginning of the line are not used in modern free verse as they shout out.

Careful with metre and formal form as it is not as easy as it looks. Stick with free verse for now.

Tense – careful with tense – keep an eye on it.



Part 2 – Poems Read – Write up on Poems

    The Old World

Charles Simic


I believe in the soul; so far

It hasn’t made much difference.

I remember an afternoon in Sicily.

The ruins of some temple.

Columns fallen in the grass like naked lovers.


The olives and goat cheese tasted delicious

And so did the wine

With which I toasted the coming night,

The darting swallows,

The Saracen wind and moon.


It got darker. There was something

Long before there were words:

The evening meal of shepherds . . .

A fleeting whiteness among the trees . . .

Eternity eavesdropping on time.


The goddess going to bathe in the sea.

She must not be followed.

These rocks, these cypress trees,

May be her old lovers.

Oh to be one of them, the wine whispered to me.



Carol Ann Duffy


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer

utters itself. So, a woman will lift

her head from the sieve of her hands and stare

at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.


Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth

enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;

then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth

in the distant Latin chanting of a train.


Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales

console the lodger looking out across

a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls

a child’s name as though they named their loss.


Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –

Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


Orkney / This Lifepoem

Andrew Greig


It is big sky and its changes,

the sea all round and the waters within.

It is the way sea and sky

work off each other constantly,

like people meeting in Alfred Street,

each face coming away with a hint

of the other’s face pressed in it.

It is the way a week-long gale

ends and folk emerge to hear

a single bird cry way high up.


It is the way you lean to me

and the way I lean to you, as if

we are each other’s prevailing;

how we connect along our shores,

the way we are tidal islands

joined for hours then inaccessible,

I’ll go for that, and smile when I

pick sand off myself in the shower.

The way I am an inland loch to you

when a clatter of white whoops and rises…


It is the way Scotland looks to the South,

the way we enter friends’ houses

to leave what we came with, or flick

the kettle’s switch and wait.

This is where I want to live,

close to where the heart gives out,

ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky

where birds fly through instead of prayers

while in Hoy Sound the ferry’s engines thrum

this life this life this life.


I remember

Joe Brainard

Quite amazing

It is a whole book of memories

Some boring some shocking

The memories are mostly no longer than a paragraph. Some only a couple of sentences

All the memories start with I Remember…

The sentences are written in prose



Allen Ginsberg

I loved this

I did not understand it all

But I loved the way it fell along the lines in rage

It reminds me of some of Patti Smith’s ramblings

112 lines long – but the lines go over 4 lines some times – indented on the next lines (2nd3rdetc)

3 sections – first mainly start with “who” – second mainly start with ‘moloch’ – third mainly starts with ‘I’m’.

Moloch means the biblical name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice – Ginsberg means ‘the heavy judger of men’ – the power to give and take – a reference to capitalism which he was against (online references – Wikipedia and howl critical edition)

Third section about Carl Solomon a patient in hospital that Ginsberg met who was also a writer and wrote ‘Report from Asylum: Afterthoughts of a Shock Patient.

Out of the Dust

Karen Hesse

Supposedly a children’s poem but I loved it.

Full of images that just take you to the moments

I especially loved the first page describing her and her birth in the dustbowl on the floor of the house her parents lived in.

It is free verse

Like many different poems throughout the book but all about the same story of a girl born in depression USA in the dust bowl and a period of her life where she had many challenges.

It is a whole book with these poem sections that make up one large poem.


Part two – Ex 3 – The Sound of Words

Hoot Tremble Baton Anxiety Damaged Weird Maverick

Bad Scar Slow Crevice Dilates Blew Struggle

Breathtaking Stamp Laugh Sprung

Muffle Warm Toasty Cold Freeze Ice

Pretty Beautiful Glamorous Sexy Homely

Free Prison Prism Closed Enclose

Bang Crash Wallop Bash Tickle Tap

Temple Home Office Bungalow Flat Apartment

A part from

Tart Sharp Zing Ping Juicy

Draped Melt Battered Snort Dark

Scarlet Plum Swell Smother Sweet