Exercise #5 (pages 74-75)
This exercise was to write two quatrains of standard, eight-syllable iambic tetrameter, two quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter, and two quatrains of trochaic tetrameter (one in ‘pure trochee’ and one with docked weak endings in the second and fourth lines). The example subject was TV, so that’s the theme I chose.
I like to watch light-hearted shows
(My favorites are all comedy)
But drama has its place as well –
I guess the best is dramedy.
This year was tough on TV shows
And several that I liked a lot
And wished an end would never know
They took outside and cruelly shot.
Sometimes I watch too much T.V.
My brain goes dull and numb.
In times like these, I read a book
And I don’t feel as dumb.
The summer isn’t nice for those
Of us who watch TV.
Our shows all take a break, we’re left
With news and anime.
Rambling plot lines make me angry.
That is why “Lost” sucked so greatly.
Shows like “Chuck” know how to please me,
Always wrapping up quite neatly.
“Doctor Who” is entertaining.
Watch it with a cup of tea
And you’ll feel quite British even
If you live in Tennessee.
Exercise #11 (page 190)
This exercise was to use stanza forms to describe themselves.
The terza rima form is a surprise
Because you think the second line will rhyme
But no, it won’t – you must believe your eyes.
The next line will be just about the time
Your brain decides it knows what’s going on
But it will think the next two lines a crime.
Because the rhyming scheme will be all gone:
Stop-couplet will complete the final con.
An age ago, some ancient poet thought
His thoughts too broad to fit a two-fold frame.
His friends all scoffed and said the poet ought
To simply squeeze his thoughts and make them tame.
Refusing this, he thought of what to do:
He found that if he made his rhymes to cross
Then he could use four lines instead of two
And write all of his thoughts without a loss.
Persian poetry has got a twist
Once you start to read, you can’t desist.
Four lines – three rhymes give you a surprise
It’s like drinking milk that gets you pissed.
Probably you want to know its name:
Rubai – gave to Omar Khayyam fame
Though people tend to skip the Ruba’iyat
Almost all of them do know the name.
Rhyme Royal isn’t quite the royal rhyme
You’d think it is, considering the name.
It seems a silly legend, over time,
From Geoffrey Chaucer stole a little fame,
Since Henry number four is not to blame
For this: a scheme of a b a bb
That’s ended with a couplet of cc.
Would anyone who’s in their right mind choose
The older form – Rhyme Royal – at the cost
Of missing out the full three couplets’ use
Ottava Rima gives, which Royal’s lost?
Perhaps some think one line’s not much to lose
But it’s not just a line – a couplet’s tossed.
The competition fades out near the end,
Since both forms say the last two lines must blend.
Of course, the guy who wrote The Fairy Queen,
Has many other points on which to boast
But one (though minor, true) that’s to be seen:
Of all poems, it is his that scares me most.
And now, it seems, I’ll also blame his ghost
For this, a complex form which he devised
Which was, no doubt, in his time quite the toast.
Like Russian dolls, its inset form disguised.
Then sudden, hexametrically, it ends. Surprised?