e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Short poems – the triolet

How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Not memory shaped old times anew,
Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee?

The poem above is a triolet, written by Thomas Hardy who was one of the stars of melancholy. I don’t think the very subtle change of meaning in the repetition of the first line is essential, but it expands the poem.

The rules are simple: the first couplet is repeated at the end and the first line is also the fourth; there are only two rhymes. For more information on its history etc try poets.org.

I was first introduced to the form in a poem by Susan McLean in the May edition of Snakeskin Poetry, an online magazine with a wide ranging content of both modern and traditional styles. (To find her humorous poem Crushed use the link above then click on Snakeskin Archive and then on Snakeskin 250).

I thought it would make a change from writing haiku and tanka. I found it took a while to get into the flow of the style but it was fun to try.

grey day photo

Shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
don’t turn your back on my shivering smiles;
backwards is another dark-lit way.
The shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
shakes hands with twilight, makes the sunrise pay,
as at our sour assembly in these cold-lit miles.
This shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
don’t turn your back on my shivering smiles.

 

 

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Poetry Book Society Choice: Venus as a Bear

My Poetry Book Society choice for this summer has arrived. Its title is a challenge to start with – do bears and Venus have any relationship?cover art

The book has been widely reviewed and with good reason. I haven’t had time to read it thoroughly yet, but, as one expects from Vahni Capildeo, the poems I have read make me think.

For instance, very few poets deal with the subject of pets. Capildeo doesn’t cover the cuteness or amusingness of domestic creatures, but what it means to be a pet and the deep relationship between two species. Many other poems deal with animals and plants in their natural or semi-natural state. Then there are the places: the roads, the seas, the foreign, the homes.

This is a wide-ranging collection and I’ll be reading it for some time.

Whales and Poetry

Whale swims

Browsing around the other day I came across a poem about whales by D H Lawrence. Entitled Whales Weep Not it is about their love life.

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, …

Reading it made me wonder if others have written poems about whales.

Hawaii has a welcoming celebration for the migrating humpbacks and this includes poetry, but none of the poems are quoted on the website.

The orcas get a whole site for their poems. But this is made up for on Hello Poetry which covers all whales.

I also found a number of short doggerels, as if the hugeness and majesty of whales are more manageable in small, simple pieces.

 

The picture comes from flickr.

Poem for April Fools Day

Sunrise over buildings

The sun rises
on April Fools Day to shine,
for one morning, on Truth.

 

photo credit: Thanks for over 2 million views!!
<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/113086034@N04/38546106460″>Copenhagen</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The uses of poetry

These days poetry can be found anywhere and is given many uses.  Today the BBC reports a passenger complaining in verse to Norwegian Airlines and getting a verse response.

I can’t reblog BBC reports but here is the link.

Norwegian plane

 

Here today gone tomorrow

snow sceneThe sun is shining so hard today it’s difficult to remember that everything was white with snow less than a week ago.

I took this picture last time we had snow, I no longer have a pampas grass to catch snowflakes and hold them up to be admired.

The white beauty lasted longer then; this year it was only decorating the garden for two days.

I’ve written haiku about snow before but it’s a subject that lends itself to the lightness of  very short poems.

Today the garden
is lovely with snow, but will it
last ’til tomorrow.

Wandering about

When I opened my blog this morning I realised that it is well over a month since I posted anything. So I have made a new New Year resolution – to post more frequently. The exercise routine resolution is already not happening, so I hope this new one will be more successful.

goodreads

On the other hand, I have done a lot of reading, most of which is recorded in Goodreads.
Listing my reading in Goodreads is very useful; browsing back through my previous entries I find that I often forget what I’ve read and need a reminder.

Pulsar webzine

On the submissions front I’ve had a few successes so far this year. Pulsar, a longstanding online magazine, has published one of my poems and you can find it among a group of great poems, ostensibly for March but on line now.

Paragraph Planet

Paragraph Planet, an online flash magazine, has taken one of my very short tales (to read it you have to scroll through the archive to Jan 31). In case you aren’t familiar with this site, it publishes a 75 word story every day and some of them are really amazing – so much said in such a little space.

I’ve also had a couple of acceptances and am waiting for actual publication.

Good luck to anyone else on the submissions circuit and to anyone thinking of starting it – it can be fun.

New Year: New Reading

A belated Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope you have had a good festive season and are enjoying the feeling of newness that a new year can bring.

PBS Bulletin

After a lot of hectic: travel, parties, shopping, eating etc, etc, I have finally got around to seriously reading the winter offering from the Poetry Book SocietyJoy by Sasha Dugdale.

Along with the selected book comes the quarterly PBS Bulletin. Now the Society has updated it and it looks completely different. After years of receiving the old one I’m a bit nostalgic for its look and feel, but the new version is very nice and no doubt I’ll get used to it.

So I start 2018 with some newness spilling over from last year.

Life: the only game there is

The Three Fates

On the Carpe Diem site we have been set an interesting challenge – to write a haiku or tanka on the theme of ‘life is a game’.

This isn’t exactly a new theme for poetry, many poets in different countries, writing in different languages, have done the same, but it seems to me a bit unusual for haiku. However, us haiku writers can rise to any challenge, and I suspect that, in the ‘old days’ when Basho and his friends were holding (drunken) haiku parties, many way-out subjects were used.

Chèvrefeuille himself has given us a beautiful haiku as a model, tying the game to the seasons:

life is but a game
nature rolls the dices
seasons change

I haven’t managed to use the seasons, but I found the theme fits the haiku form well:

life is an endgame
only the Fates are certain
when the game will end.

 

Picture of The Three Fates from wikimedia.

Still brightening my garden

Calendula

I went away for a few days this month. November setting in – cold, wind, rain – the usual.

But on my return I found this calendula still flowering, making a tiny pocket of orange sunshine in its corner of the garden.

Flowers often look fragile, but they can be tough.

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