Friday 29 July 2011

Rhyme Royal: Fear

Pale hued attired, I rested on her lap.

Her hands would shield my fear and my despair

when echoes there would drip between the gaps

of cries through empty walls; down halls that scare

a child who aches who feels she's trapped in lairs

ignored where she'll lie lonely shrivelled dead,

the flames consume the corpse that's in her head.

Author's Note:   This post is for D'Verse Poets - Form for all.  Gay has shared a form, Rhyme Royal and requested us to post a poem following this form.   She has kindly edited my original post (see below and her notes) into a perfect iambic pentameter.  This has been a challenge for me as I don't normally write with a form in mind; but learning the form has been interesting.   
Comments from Gay:
Let's take your poem apart, shall we?  It's not hard to do. This is NOT rocket science.  It's an antique thing  (and I mean back to the Greeks) called scansion.  Since the Greeks held poetry in such high esteem (see Aristotle - Poetics), it was possibly they who came up with music in the words.  They had lots more rules about it than we have in English.

So, this form (rime royal) has a rime scheme of ababbcc we can look at your end sounds and check that - 
lap, ing, until, then, scars, dead, cremated 
So you have some of the scheme but you miss on others
until should rhyme with lap 
ing and then rhyme however we need another ing (en) sound instead of "scars"'
but your last rhyme couplet works with dead and cremated.

So thinking, yes, you wrote it, now, got it down, how to push it around to get it to "work"
At this point you can address your poem on three points
1. does it say what I want?
2. does it follow the rhyme scheme?
3. does the meter work?

You have a few problems with each of these things (as everyone does when writing something).  Don't stop writing because you know it's imperfect.  Start with what occurs to you.  Then start picking it apart. Fixing poetry is part of the puzzle of it.  It's like finding the right path for circuitry, or figuring out crossword puzzles, it's an odd art of composing by fix.  So think of it as inspiration, and then fixing.  After you've fixed for a while, you might edit as you write but this isn't Mozart's work here.  He apparently heard it perfectly and had the skill to write what he heard. But that's a gift like photographic memory, it doesn't apply to genius.  Einstein worked and worked through hundreds of thousands of possibilities before coming up with E=MC2

But as I am here to talk about scheme and meter.  Let's take up meter next.
Here's your poem broken into feet. The good news is each of your lines has ten syllables. In much of modern poetry counting syllables is quite good enough.  After you learn the rules, you can certainly break them by using this method for expressing "your voice" but for now let's be slavish to the rules.  I have broken your poem into feet by the straight lines and pointed out the heavy stresses by using all caps.

Pale HUED |GAR ment,| I RES| ted ON| your LAP | -  
EC hoed| in the ROOM|, MU ting| TEARS, un| TIL 
WALLS, HALL|ways, more| WALLS were| ALL i | SAW, then|
Un WOR |thy and| UG ly,| I SHRIV|elled DEAD | 
LONG be|FORE my| BOD y| was CRE |mat ed.

Now it's true some words will change their stress in relation to the words they're sitting next to, but it's useful to check with the dictionary for where the heavy stress on a word falls.This is how your poem scans.  Your first line is pentameter except for Garment. You can fix this (if it's what you want to say easily) by substituting a synonym for garmentthat is iambic rather than trochaic.

It would read like this:
Pale hued attire, I rested on your lap. 
That is perfect iambic pentameter. (but attire might not be the perfect word. That's up to you.)
Your next line is pretty rare.  Somehow you've managed to write a whole line (nearly) of spondees.  Wow! with one foot of pyhrric!
Here we have to get more specific about what you mean to say.  You have put this so vaguely that it leaves the interpretation to the reader but that isn't optimal here.  There are other ways to achieve poetic ambiguity.
So not knowing what you're saying here I'll write
Your hands then plucked my eyes their grief, despair
and I'll continue, if I may, as you can see the scansion above, ok? (However you have to think you are addressing a garment and it's not likely to have "hands" so it might not make sense. You could change "Your" to "My" but would you "pluck" your own eyes?  That seems not quite right because later you "see".  

So what I think I'll do here (though it is brazen of me to do so) is change your poem and write it through my interpretation.  Here's what I came up with.  It follows the scheme, it is iambic pentameter and it solidifies what the subject is and the experience although clearly it may be 180 degrees from what you meant to say.
Thanks Gay for the valuable lessons ~


  1. Great work! Meter is completely beyond me, so I am really impressed.

  2. wonderful job and very brave to post the advice from your friend, her words helped me too....thank u

  3. thank you heaven...i learned as much reading yours with gays commentary as i did on the original post...

    still working on my attempt

    really enjoyed your verse still are very evocative...particularly toward the end...and a perfect pic to go with this...

  4. Wow! Awesome work!

  5. it took me some time to absorb Gay's comments but I finally understood the rime scheme of ababbcc. to the uninitiated, it is the end sounds of the 7 lines. meaning that my end sound of line 1and 3 (a) should rhyme; end sound of lines 2,4,5 (b) should rhyme; and last lines 6, 7 (c).

    the scheme and meter is another story. cheers~

  6. Job very well done. Wow such feedback too.

    Yeah took me a while to grasp the whole abba blah blah stuff. But I just break it down to this end line rhymes with this end line and that is that. Plus when it comes to rhyme no problem for the cat..haha

  7. Tom Eliot:

    This is a powerfull write Heaven.

    I got some really strong imagery from this poem.

    The pic was good prompt too.

    The structure will come in time if you want it problem.

    Strong verse

  8. This was extremely helpful to read--thanks for being the guinea pig Heaven, and providing an under the hood bunch of examples. I always need more help with stuff like this.
    That said, so you don't feel like you're just a lab rat ;_)--this poem, especially the last line, is very strong in mood and message, and while I didn't see much of the original, I can't feel it would have been too different in those things. The picture paintedin words(as well as the pic you selected for the visual)is eerie and powerful. Thanks so much for this.

  9. How very generous of you to share the before and after as well as Gay's comments.

    Enjoyed reading both versions. The image as well as the words are haunting. Great job!

  10. A very powerful write, Heaven--the fear quite palpable.

    Gays "dissection" is very helpful to the rest of us too. It was nice of you to share this and allow us to see where we need improvement too.

    I may try to use the "bones" of my poem and try to insert the proper meter as Gay did with yours.

    Thank you...

  11. Beautiful, Heaven... I really love the second line. Thanks, too, for the leasson on this challenging form.

    (Happy Anniversary) = )

  12. Heaven, may I offer one small suggestion to refine the rhythm of this wonderful poem? I find that the transition between lines 2 and 3 in the first stanza is bumpy, and a bit confusing from the standpoint of meaning. Here's my suggestion:

    Her hands would shield my fear and my despair

    when echoes there would drip between the gaps

    which would track as:

    Her HANDS | would SHIELD | my FEAR | and MY | desPAIR

    When EC | hoes THERE | would DRIP | beTWEEN | the GAPS

    The question is, how important is "try" to the meaning of your poem? If it is hugely important, then of course my suggestion becomes problematic. It's all about finding the right path for circuitry, as Gay says. Hope this helps!


  13. Thank you, Heaven. We still have internet so I'm getting to as many as possible after going to the grocery store. I think the storm will miss us. I have directed some writers here and I, too, appreciate your being the "guinea pig" for the group. It was a good exercise and I approve the edit suggested by David. He is absolutely correct. Don't waste words (a mistake I'm prone to. I always like having another pair of eyes proof for it in my poems. Luke is careful to watch for "just" as it is equally useless in most cases.

    I hope this helps with the craft of the poem. I think you already have the necessary inspiration and feel for words in your poetry!

  14. Thanks Gay and David. I have edited it and now reading the posts of others, I can now appreciate 7 lines of the Rhyme Royal.

  15. congratulations heaven on work well done. and thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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  18. Eek, I've somehow posted multiple times and can't make it go away! Sorry. Please fix. Ta.

  19. There must be a time lag! I see I did remove it,once too often.

    OK, I was trying to make the point that metre depends on pronunciation and cadence. In Australia we would scan one of the lines in question as

    LONG / beFORE / my BOD / y WAS / cre-MAT/ -ed,

    Not quite iambic pentameter, but much closer.

    A truly fascinating discussion; many thanks for sharing.

  20. i love the way your words wrap
    around my feelings.

    i started to read the commentary...
    and i realized that writing will
    never be my forte. i just don't
    have the attention span. hehe

  21. Dear Heaven,
    IMO you write heavenly, despite those who think know better trying to teach you what first of all should come from the heart.

    What is methodic is boring, and eventually 'robotic'.

    Thus, not human. AND That's fisrt of all what poetry should be about.

    Good crit's work, though.

  22. thank you for sharing Gay's valuable assistance and explanations.

    i love both versions ~ quite haunting either way ~ but i will admit i liked your original version better because it "sounded" more like you. that's one of the problems i have with poetry forms requiring feet and meter. i enjoy poetry for the emotions and imagery that the writer is putting forth and iambic pentameter {and the like} remove a lot of that for me personally.

    i really admire your bravery in posting the original poem, revised and Gay's comments. your attitude toward learning forms is enviable. i love your poetry whatever form you use!
    dani ♥

  23. Thank you for sharing this poem and part of the path to transform it into rime royal. Also, I liked both versions. Will/have you also post(ed) the first version?

  24. Hi Sheera,

    The original post is the one where Gay commented and took apart for the meter break. It was my first time to try it so didn't exactly conform to the rhyme royal rules.

    Thanks for the visit.


Thanks for your visit and comments ~ I appreciate them ~