Poetry Challenge 17 Triolet: Post Thy Poems!

This was interesting. I’ve written triolets before and I ran into the same issue this time. One feels the repeated lines would be more affecting if the poem were sung; on the page, they can seem a bit like dead wood. Perhaps my approach is too straightforward?

At any rate, I decided to write several triolets and play with different approaches. One approach is simple and uncomplicated. It’s lyrical because as I said, this kind of thing feels like it should be sung. The second approach involves the repeated lines changing slightly each time as the poem progresses, responding to the development of the theme. The third is to keep the repeated words the same, but to intimate new meanings to the reader by way of the intervening lines. I imagine this is seen as the ideal way to approach this kind of poem. But it seems more graceful when taking this approach to take out the middle A and replace it with an a, so that when the lines recur they feel like a surprise and you get to find out just how much your understanding of the lines has changed.

None of this is prescriptive. It’s just how I played with the challenge from the platform of my own abilities, which tend not to be on the subtle side.

I look forward to seeing more triolets!


  1. California

    Out of the wild a howling comes
    And fear like a flashing flood;
    Thunder rolls like desert drums,
    Out of the wild a howling comes,
    Far in the forest a hot heart hums,
    Scarlet pillars buck and thud,
    Out of the wild a howling comes,
    And fear like a flashing flood.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s a triolet I did for a contest a few years ago. Along with two others, it will be appearing in my upcoming poetry book, Poems We Might Have Loved A Century Ago. It’s an example of the approach in which I slightly change the repeated lines to indicate a narrative progression or some other development of meaning. To me this makes the form more literary and less lyrical. I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.


    Sweet Ondine with her net of hair outspread
    Dared not deplore the doom that she had won.
    Though Hulder held not dear that he had wed
    Sweet Ondine with her cobalt hair turned red,
    She brought two noble prizes from his bed:
    A lasting human soul; a pink-faced son.
    So Ondine with her cobalt hair outspread
    Dared not deplore the doom that she had won.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is an interesting one. I agree it feels like something that could have been written a hundred years ago! I gather Ondine is a fairy who marries a mortal (although one who fails to appreciate her) and in so doing becomes a human herself? I had worked this out before googling the names because of the “lasting human soul” gained and the “cobalt hair turned red”. 😉 And then I discovered there is a myth like this with an Ondine, but the hero’s name was not Hulder, so I hope I’m right in assuming the connection?

      In your version, the fairy dares not rue her lot because of joy in having a son and a lasting human soul– perhaps in depiction hinting at the sort of inwardness and secret joy/happiness that anyone might cultivate despite untoward or disappointing circumstances? Or perhaps I extrapolate too much. If I am right it gives a richer depth to the poem, makes one think.

      Nice work. Tweaking the repeating lines definitely helps in moving a narrative forward a bit. 🙂

      P.S. Awesome news about an upcoming poetry book!!


      • Your interpretation is spot-on! Thank you for your attention. Yes, I sort of invented the name Hulder. In the very old volume I have of a Victorian version of the fairy tale, she is called Undine and her husband is called Huldebrand. Obviously I couldn’t fit that into the meter!

        This was an experiment in using a short poem to put across a point of literary interpretation or criticism, or appreciation. I recall you did something similar with the ‘Jane Eyre’ character Bertha Mason. I think maybe we should use that idea as our next challenge.


  3. ¨Festival Dream¨

    I want to wear a gown of flowers
    entwined about a wax wire frame.
    In blazing hues of summer hours,
    I want to wear a gown of flowers.
    Where far away a south sun glowers,
    in promenade beneath the same,
    I want to wear a gown of flowers
    entwined about a wax wire frame.


    • One thing I’m learning to like in a poem is the non-linear sense, in which words are combined in a way that does not entirely yield to logical analysis, but creates a definite impression in the mind. I read “blazing hues of summer hours,” that way. I think “summer hours” means something more than “summertime.” The length of days that are hot is invoked, I think. One is aware of time passing hour by hour. They weigh. There is a certain endurance to such experience, even when it is a joyous endurance.

      ‘Glowers’ is daring, and I think a success. The whole poem though not lacking in subtlety itself, potently represents the heightened, unsubtle, and high-contrast world of the far southern festival. Celebration abuts rigor. Comparing ‘blazing,’ I was led to think on the relationship between light, sight, and color, (color is so present throughout the poem) and reflect that under such a sun one might get colors revealing themselves more deeply to sight.

      I admire the strong use of ‘same.’ As a point of craft, it can be difficult to figure out how to use the rhymes available to one without making one’s word-wrangling look as difficult as it can in fact be. To use ‘sun’ again after such a strong line about it would have been wasting space, so something like a pronoun was needed. “The same” is just archaic enough to sound curious without sounding quaint, and it feels like the right expression because of the way the line, when worded that way, leads into the final AB so beautifully. I think you solved the repetition problem elegantly: no “dead wood” here.

      I did wonder about a wax wire frame. I had the uncomfortable feeling throughout the poem that the wax was just about to melt all over the speaker’s legs. Is this based on some real practice, or was it an intuitive choice of words?

      Overall, a brilliant little gem of a poem that conveys an experience at once of a mentality dwelling in beauty, and an emotion of desire for that more heightened experience of life’s gifts of which such a mentality is capable, and finally, of sufficient sensory and concrete detail to feed the mind’s more material eye.

      A gown of flowers. What a gorgeous thing.


      • Thank you! I’m very happy to know that the poem evoked the feelings and associations I hoped it would. 🙂 Incidentally, I admire how you can translate the experience of a poem into a prose description with so much precision and specificity. I feel like when I attempt to do the same thing it often devolves into a typed equivalent of either gushing or wild gesticulation. 😛 Any advice on cultivating this skill? Perhaps it’s just a matter of paying attention and continuing to practice?

        The wax wire frame for the dress is just something I thought up, and kept largely because I liked the sound of the line and the juxtaposition by association of artificial/crafted beauty with natural (ie, wax flowers). I have no idea if it would hold up very well for the purpose in reality. . . although come cursory research assured me that wax wire has a very high melting point. Still. The automatic linking of wax in the heat with melting probably makes the usage a flaw in this poem. :/ A pity.


        • I’ve actually had that experience, too, of attempted description devolving into “the typed equivalent…” etc. I really wanted to avoid that this time which is why I took so long analyzing the poems and responding.

          I think it is a process and the temptation is to skip a step or two. First, one must surrender to the poem and experience it as a reader. Several times, in my case, with breaks in between. My idea of what I’m seeing sometimes comes between me and what I’m actually seeing.

          The second step is to watch oneself having the experience. I think it’s important not to do this at first, and also not to have the question of “what am I going to say about this?” hovering over one during early readings. But eventually, one must do it.

          When the poem and one’s experience of the poem have become part of one’s objective knowledge and experience bank, some more time must pass and then – well, in my case I sit down to right with a vague sense of direction and I just… feel it out verbally. Lots of self-editing until I sense that what I’m saying matches up with what I’m seeing in my mind.

          So to sum up, I try not to communicate my feelings and experiences of the poem directly, but instead to communicate a distanced, analytical description of those feelings and experiences. A matter of just getting into the right frame of mind, I guess.

          Besides that, there’s something that happens over and over again, the search for the right word, usually a verb or adjective, that rings true to the quality of my felt experience. I think those words, once chosen, drive the rest of the writing, where I’m composing sentences for the purpose of getting to them and getting the sensation across.

          As I describe this, I feel I’ve seen you do this sort of thing yourself. And really, it’s much the way one often writes a poem, isn’t it?

          Musically, the wax wire frame works beautifully. I liked it at once. The worrying about whether it’s feasible in reality was probably a distraction, and not something to take too seriously. One’s third function pesters, at times. 😉


  4. This one is ¨sweet¨– possibly too saccharine or cliched at least in a few lines. Nevertheless. . .


    He’s gappy toothed and tawny eyed,
    with cornsilk hair just lately buzzed,
    and life’s a jingle in his stride.
    He’s gappy toothed and tawny eyed.
    No stopping time a beat- I tried!-
    or holding fast to baby fuzz.
    He’s gappy toothed and tawny eyed,
    with cornsilk hair just lately buzzed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The poem aptly communicates the yearning, a real feeling often felt, for the baby that, though it has not died, cannot come again. I know it well. 🙂 Of course it also communicates an appreciation for the child he is at the moment, but in the shadow of that lost baby he was the present moment feels so brief.

      I have been puzzling over the question of whether it is too sweet, because of what you said. The poem has movement (The baby fuzz line yields that sensation of having traveled through the previous lines to arrive at its meaning.) It has some originality in expression (“Life’s a jingle in his stride” is the best, I think). It has justification for the sweetness in that it represents some genuine experience, and doesn’t shy from the bitter lacing the sweet.

      But eventually I settled on that one exclamation – “I tried!” – as the spot that worries. It’s not so much saccharine, I think, as mannered. It definitely calls up the 1930’s and the lesser tradition of children’s verse. I think the difference between a poem about a child and a poem for a child is the barrier that is breached here.

      ‘Tawny-eyed’ surprised. I liked it. All in all, an enjoyable experience.


      • I think you are right about “I tried!”. In fact, that whole line is throw away. I felt rather sloppy as I put it in originally– basically just to fill out the form, because even though its sense is inherent to the poem, there’s nothing vital in its expression. Hm.

        I’m glad you didn’t find the poem too sweet innately. Thank you for articulating that.


  5. Oh! I almost forgot the most important triolet of all. 🙂 Anna wanted to write one. I explained to her the rules about rhyming and the repeating lines, but we didn’t get into line length and meter. I was impressed that she was able to pull one together!

    Oh, I sing when it’s spring
    for the animals
    and also for the king.
    Oh, I sing when it’s spring
    for the king. In return, he gives me a ring,
    and I also sing for the camels.
    Oh, I sing when it’s spring
    for the animals.

    Anna Sommers

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anna,

      Well, this rhyming of ‘animal’ and ‘camel’ is a very good rhyme. Words that rhyme shouldn’t merely sound alike. They should also have some relationship in what they mean. Shakespeare wrote a funny scene in one of his plays (Much Ado About Nothing) in which a man (Benedick) falls in love and decides suddenly to be a poet, when he had never tried before. He has a very hard time with the rhymes. He can think of words to rhyme with one another, but he doesn’t like how their meanings match up.

      Benedick says,

      “I can find out no rhyme to ‘lady’ but ‘baby,’ an innocent rhyme;

      for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rhyme;

      for, ‘school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rhyme;

      very ominous endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet…”

      I think “animal” and “camel” is a friendly rhyme. Spring, king, and ring, are also good rhymes. (And you snuck “sing” in the middle of a line, too.) We notice these words more, precisely because they rhyme. And so they dominate the poem, and give it an timeless, yet fresh and celebratory feeling.

      You did a good job with getting the a’s and b’s right. I enjoyed imagining the kind of character who might say these words, and what her story might be. Thank you for participating!


  6. After some struggle, here’s my best at the third type…

    Ring a Ring a Rosie

    And now break out the ancient highs
    The mountain cries, “Come out, Come on!”
    Now lust in laughter drowns his sighs
    And love remembers all his whys
    And chants the love songs of the wise
    The plaint and odes of Solomon
    And now break out the ancient highs
    The mountain cries, “Come out, Come on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • On my initial readings, I appreciated the singing, swinging flow of this poem, but I haven’t commented on it up till now because I didn’t feel I understood it or what it was about. Now that I’ve come back a few times, something suddenly broke and I feel a bit dense as it does not seem really that difficult.

      “Ring a Round the Rosie” ends with us all falling down dead, right? So this is what happens next– when we wake up, get up again in a new life? I love the joyful playfulness of that framing! Makes the poem really ring!


      • That yearning for the heavenly denoument is something that is always with me, and gets into most of my poems. You and Albert often detect it when I haven’t been explicit with myself or the reader about it.

        Ring a Ring a Rosie… I was thinking more about what children do when they chant it. That circular motion, like the poem’s structure, and that elevated lost-in-bliss feeling when they fall on the ground racked by laughter – a childish first experience of that anguish of joy so rarely experienced in adult life, but gorgeously lineamented in the Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s. And hopefully to be experienced again, somehow and where, even if the rare and precious circumstances which occasioned Solomon’s verse escapes us in this life.

        The motions of the game figure the words of the nursery rhyme, so I suppose it really is the same thing you said, just approached from another end.


  7. SUN
    The watchers – alleluia – call,
    ‘Come quickly!’ to the dawning east.
    Morn’s gilded streams enbrighten all,
    (the watchers alleluia call)
    alight with warmth upon the thrall,
    and quick’ning rouse, ‘Today the feast!’
    The watchers – alleluia – call,
    ‘Come quickly to the dawning east.’

    In solemn swirls at cool of day,
    a rest to rest two worlds. Between
    the sighing trees, the breezes play
    in solemn swirls. At cool of day,
    a surging breath gives wings to clay
    and swells with earth and wood serene.
    In solemn swirls at cool of day,
    a rest to rest, two worlds between.

    The moon and the spoon, little dove,
    brim-bright with good and shining gifts,
    delight to fill our mouths with love.
    The moon and the spoon, little dove–
    how dark full fears those beams above
    and trembling, flees its shades and shifts!
    The moon and the spoon, little dove,
    brim bright with good and shining gifts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • More triolets, yay!! I will come back later to comment more fully, as I am still pondering these, especially “Wind”. And I very much look forward to reading what Alana has to say. In the meantime, I think these are wonderful! Thank you for contributing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nabisafl,

      I keep wanting to pronounce your nom de plume like “Nabby’s Apple,” which makes me think of you as an Abigail. Irrelevant perhaps but I couldn’t help mentioning it.

      Well, these triolets were a pleasure to study at. Improbably, perhaps, I ended up liking MOON best of all. First, for a personal reason, because “little dove” is something I say to my own baby. But the delicate and innocent feeling the poem conveys, aesthetically kin to the edges of fine things (such as silver spoons full of water) seen by moonlight, won me over more completely on subsequent readings.

      WIND is an excellent demonstration of what the form can do. Technically admirable and aesthetically competent.

      SUN has some things going for it, but my first impression that it is imperfect persists and deepens.

      I’ll make some more detailed remarks in reverse.

      In the case of this poem, I’d have liked to see you surrender more to the archaic language that was wanting to break through – there are some things that cannot be said in contemporary usage for the simple reason that contemporary usage deliberately excludes them – but do more to resist some other non-standard usages. At other times, the contemporaneity was irritating. Consistent archaism is what I recommend in this case, because of the subject matter.

      For instance, “The watchers ‘alleluia’ call” (The watchers call “alleluia”, but in non-standard syntactical order) would have been preferable to your present first line, which does not definitively mean anything.

      “Come quickly,” while perfectly contemporary is by the same token quite pedestrian, or conversational. It deadens the uplifting effect you are going for. Let the watchers say something surprising, something befitting their station, I say!

      Although it’s a clever inversion, it doesn’t make sense that the watchers would first tell the dawning east to come quickly and then tell some unidentified others to come quickly to the dawning east.

      Shortened forms like ‘morn’ and ‘quick’ning’ are frustrating to me because although I support the use of archaisms, I think these particular archaisms were stylistically poor even when they were common, and show an over-concern for metrical perfection. (In MOON you say “and the” in the first line, even though it adds an extra syllable to the meter, and I don’t cry foul.)

      At the same time, the meter is not perfect because the word “Morn’s” takes so long to say that it might as well be two syllables. Generally, accented syllables should be long and unaccented syllables should be short.

      “Gilded streams” is weak because the adjective is more concrete than the noun. Also, “streams” should not be used by itself – unless they are streams of water in which one can fish, we always identify streams of what.

      ‘Enbrightens” is obvious. Overkill.

      “Alight with warmth upon the thrall,” is… incoherent. However, ‘thrall’ is an excellent rhyme to use in this poem. You should definitely find a different way to use it, in my opinion.

      Similarly with “feast” to go with “east,” because “quick’ning rouse, “Today the feast,” ” uses ‘rouse’ as a dialogue tag, which is clumsy, especially given that ‘quickening’ is so strong that ‘rouse’ is unneeded.

      I advise you not to try to pack so many concepts into one poem. Focus on one central concept, pick the best words for that concept, and trust them to do their work without other, weaker words looking over their shoulders.


      This one seems perfect to me. Your clever trick of reusing the same words in the same order but in a different sense, here yields good and coherent results, and the phrases build on one another. Your style is measured and unobtrusively consistent. At first I didn’t like that the first sentence is, well, not a complete sentence. But I have warmed to it. It has no verb because it is an announcement – the implied verb, “Is here now,” which is better unstated.

      “Gives wings to clay” also gave me pause but having understood “clay” to mean “mortal fleshy beings” I realize these are birds, and I like that you took them by the semantic tail, so to speak.

      “Swells with earth and wood serene” captivated me at once because it is so obviously a fragrance, and you got that across without using the word ‘smell’ or any synonym. And it is so hard to put across a fragrance in the English language, but you’ve done it, and you’ve done it in a way that is aesthetically affecting, too. Well done!

      I wonder about the two worlds. It is suggestive and satisfactory without explication, and still I wonder about them.


      This is something I’d like to sing to my little one.

      The only problem I have with it is the word ‘full’ in the 5th line. As I mentioned above, a long syllable shouldn’t be unaccented, and this one makes the meter seem stuffed or overfull at this point. Interestingly, in poetry the sense so often goes along with the music, and the sense of the poem seems packed too full at this point as well. “How darkness fears those beams above,” is perfectly effective. The ‘How’ does the work of any intensification you may need, because it turns the whole sentence into an exclamation!

      ‘Brim bright’ is such a fortunate combination that I think the slight lengthening of the unaccented syllable is not only forgivable but turns out to be a good effect, a sort of “dwell on me” signal that I find enchanting.

      “Shades and shifts” is lovely and so picturesque.

      I’d like to publish WIND and MOON if you’re interested, but I need to think about where I want to put them. There’s a journal issue coming up, and two separate books (one publishing challenge poems and the other collecting and supplementing the four projected journal issues.) Let’s talk.


      • As I write this, I am listening to the Magnificat from Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Virgine, and what ecstasy! Now the trebles sing ‘He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.’ Not long after, they intone the Gloria Patri on the ancient chant tune while the tenors call back and forth just like they did earlier in Duo Seraphim, ‘Gloria patri, et Filio….’ I gasp as it occurs to me, after seven years of listening to this, that this setting of the Magnificat recapitulates a part of the structure of the whole rest of the Vespers, only in reverse. Then comes that deep pit in the stomach as I realize I may have stumbled onto one of the artist’s secrets, and if it’s true, no doubt somewhere at the root of it, this taps into something far too deep for me ever fully to grasp.

        For some years now it has been my earnest desire to dwell in the Paschal Matins all the days of my life. If that should prove impossible, I will happily spend length of days in this sublime Vespers.
        I want to thank you for taking the time to provide substantial commentary on these little rhymes. You will not be able to understand how much I appreciate your candid feedback. I especially thank you for your thoughts on SUN. I grimaced a good bit as I read you point out some critical and obvious mistakes I had made that, somehow, escaped my notice in the flurry to assemble the others. I get the impression that SUN made you a little grumpy, which both amuses me and makes me feel not a little bad. There is, I believe, more there than you might have seen at first, but all was obscured by my missteps. I have cleaned up a few of the more egregious things and offer a new version below, inviting you in to consider once more.
        First, a few responses to your comments. There is the matter of ‘Come quickly’. At once, I nodded my head and thought, yes, she’s right, it sounds so contemporary. But after hours of thinking about how to improve it, I remembered that ‘Come quickly’ was chosen very deliberately, and it may SOUND contemporary, but it isn’t so exclusively. After all, Thomas Campion made good use of the phrase, and he departed this life no later than 1620.
        Then there is this: https://tinyurl.com/y79tbbau, suggesting that appearances of the phrase – in print at least – have not been on the increase for many years.
        Now I confess a few sins. You are utterly correct about ‘enbrighten’, ‘quick’ning’, and the line ending in ‘thrall’: garbage, all of them. Alas, my proclivity is slavishly to serve the meter, even though I know that the meter was made for man, and not man for the meter. Besides, if you perfectly stuff it with junk, you’ll just be buried in many feet of junk.
        As for ‘morn’ – I have some exposure to non-US English speakers and also to well-trained vocalists. In the mouths of any of these, the deep ‘R’ is never formed and the word is markedly shorter. This is not to argue, but to express how I heard it in my head. Further, I refuse to allow morn to occupy the same category as ‘quick’ning’. Do you really think it’s only a contracted form of morning and not itself a term? I guess it’s possible, but it doesn’t ring true. Could not ‘morgen’ have come both ways to us? Was ‘the morn in russet mantle clad’ in poor taste?

        ‘Streams’ – always require ‘of what’. Maybe, but that also doesn’t sound quite right. There are, of course, jet streams and data streams. Those suggest that the language allows streams to be qualified in ways other than the given prepositional phrase. What are these streams? They are morn’s streams.
        Finally, ‘quickening’ and ‘rousing’ are similar but different enough things that I lean toward keeping both. It is one thing for breath to come into man, it is another for him to be brought to his feet. One is quickening, the other rousing.

        Here are a few changes. The alleluia rings in my head as antiphony, or perhaps a prayer under one’s breath. It is not part of the syntax, but belongs right where it is. Dashes failed to convey that. Maybe parentheses or perhaps this?
        The watchers (αλληλουια) call,
        ‘Come quickly’ to the dawning east.
        Morn’s golden streams alight on all,
        (the watchers αλληλουια call)
        with wonted warmth the throng enthrall,
        and quickening rouse, ‘This day we feast!’
        The watchers (αλληλουια) call,
        ‘Come quickly to the dawning east.’
        It certainly isn’t perfect, not even great, but perhaps worth considering.
        I do thank you for your time and kind words.


        • Nabisafl,

          Catching up, I return to this. I’m laughing again that you thought SUN made me grumpy. No, this is just how I talk when it’s about poetry. I’m exacting.

          Your second version does seem better. Let’s dig in.

          I like the idea of the alleluia as an antiphon or aside because it makes it clearer that “come quickly etc.” is what the watchers are calling.

          I concede your point about ‘come quickly’ being not so contemporary. I looked up the Campion poem you mentioned – beautiful – and I can see that he did indeed make very good use of it. Of course, ‘come’ in that context has a very specific meaning already bestowed by the echo of Christ’s promise in Revelation: “Behold, I come quickly.” And the response, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come.” And there’s the phrase ‘the second coming.’ Here the broadness of the term gives it weight, encompassing both the dread and the joy of that approach, and the longing the faithful feel.

          I think the phrase ‘come quickly’ has the opposite effect in your poem. There’s not the same pre-established context, and so the broadness of the term makes the line a bit mushy there. I still suggest something more concrete or more specific to help us understand the action more clearly.

          I hate the thought of you thinking about this fruitlessly for hours, though. Perhaps it is your idea that needs to be clarified? Are the watchers really telling the east to come quickly? Or are they speaking to someone/something behind the east? I’m still struggling to understand this concept.

          I think you’re also correct that ‘morn’ is a word in its own right, and not a shortened form of ‘morning.’ And “The morn in russet mantle clad,” is in exquisitely good taste. Do note how ‘morn’ occupies the stressed syllable. And that’s even without the ‘s’ on the end.

          “The given prepositional phrase” was not the point. ‘Jet stream’ and ‘data stream’ do qualify the term. However, now it seems that ‘golden’ is qualifying ‘streams’ so that “Morn’s golden streams” means “The gold that streams in the morning,” which makes sense. Morn, not being fluid by any stretch of the figure, cannot stream. It can, I suppose, possess streams, but again that leaves us asking “streams of what?” So I think you needed ‘golden’ which obviously refers to light. Conventionally, light and glory and so forth can stream, being by conceit fluid.

          “alight on all” is better.

          Of course, quickening and rousing are distinct. The point is the aesthetic effect of “quickening, rouse, ‘This day we feast.’ Which is to say, clogged and unclear.

          Here’s an example of how the some of these challenges might be met by limiting and clarifying the idea for unity. Here, I’ve chosen to interpret (re-interpret) the poem as referring to the Second Coming, since you mentioned Campion, and therefore to keep the entire poem at this tiny point of time right before dawn. The beauties of the dawn to come are depicted in the longing call of the watchers.

          The watchers (αλληλουια) call,
          “Come quickly!” toward the dawning east.
          “Let golden streams of morning fall”
          (the watchers αλληλουια call)
          “and warm and rouse and quicken all
          the sleeping throng that waits the feast.”
          The watchers (αλληλουια) call,
          “Come quickly toward the dawning east.”

          Just an example. I realize it loses that lovely alliteration you achieved in “with wonted warmth the throng enthrall”. The problem with that line is that the “enthrall” holds the throng, while the streams “quickening rouse” them… so it’s contradictory and the effect is muddled.

          I’m sure there’s a way through, though, and my guess is that it lies in limiting and clarifying your own idea.


    • BTW, Nabisafl, one thing I’ve learned about myself is that the better I get to know a poet personally or at least artistically, the less likely I am to make mistakes in interpretation and reading. So, please feel free to tell me if I’ve missed something. That will help me to read more carefully and think more clearly and be aware of more kinds of possibilities.

      We don’t think of these challenges like critique circles, where you’re not supposed to answer your critics back. If you are intellectually competent, and I believe you are, then you should be able to sift through advice and readings and decide which ones to keep and which ones not to. The only exception I’ve seen to that general rule is where some kind of hidden ideological agenda is involved.

      Thanks for participating. We are eager for new blood. We like the old blood, too, but more blood is… this figure is breaking down badly. 🙂


    • I enjoyed reading these poems very much, Nabisafl. I’m sorry it has taken me so many days to come back and comment. It is partly that, as I described above, commenting on poems is not my favorite thing to do or my strong suit (although I love reading them)! But it is a skill I aim to develop, partly for the sake conversations here. So here we go.

      I think I see more religious symbolism in these than Alana does, or at least than she mentioned in her comment. Since “Sun” is clearly about Pascha, and the poems look as though they are intended to be linked, I didn’t feel like it was reaching for me to read “wind” and “breath” in Wind as the Holy Spirit, and the spoon in “Moon” as the one offering us communion gifts? I hope I am right. Let me know if I misread.

      “Wind” made me catch my breath at the layered implications. It can read somewhat straightforwardly as a nature poem, clearly, but it also makes me think of the Holy Spirit as that mysterious commonality/linking/bridge between this world and the next world. . . or other world, depending on how you think about time. I thought of incense at a Vespers service too, with the swirls of smoke, which echoes “the prayers of the saints”. Further, “the rest to rest two worlds” makes me think of the both the New Testament Sabbath rest and the Sabbath rest after creation in the beginning, and of course the life giving breath marries nicely with each of those evocations as well.. Phew! It is an almost dizzying experience to contemplate from those several heights within the poem. And although I don’t know how much of that was intentionally contained in your writing, it is a part of the marvel of words and symbols that they can ripple so. Wonderful!

      “Moon” is very sweet, in a good way– it reads in a clear, confident, even and unabashedly tender voice. “Brim bright” is perfect. Very satisfying, visually and in terms of sound, and it makes me think of Hopkins, a favorite. 😉

      It’s harder to write about “Sun” because at this point I feel my reading of it has been thoroughly colored by all you and Alana have said, lol. I suppose I can add that it did convey, for me, something of the crispness and joyful anticipation of a Paschal morning, but it is hard to say how much of that is due to association with the subject matter in contrast to virtues in the poem itself. Actually, I have that issue in my attempts to evaluate my own poems as well. One of the reasons it’s good to test things against a second ear or two or three.

      I hope you will keep writing with us! The challenge ahead should be good.


  8. Thanks very much for this, it is an interesting window into your composition process. It seems silly when I stop to think about it, but I’d been assuming that a critical analysis of a poem was something you dashed off effortlessly after a few readings. 🙂

    I can see the paralells to writing poetry when you describe it like this, although for me so far my poetry writing instincts and habits do not switch over to prose at all naturally. It is like having two different voices.

    However, putting extra time and thoughtfulness into future attempts at critiques is bound to be a good start! It’s nice to have the opportunity to practice these things here.


  9. Assuming this is one of your ever-open challenges, here is my submission.

    “Late Autumn”

    Not many yellow leaves remain.
    The setting sun is shining through
    My bedroom’s western window pane.
    Not many yellow leaves remain.
    Increasingly it looks like rain:
    The winter’s promises are few.
    Not many yellow leaves remain;
    The setting sun is shining through!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very nice indeed! I always like it when a poet can repeat something but change the significance slightly, as you do in the final two lines here.

      The little poem about things, not our feelings about things but things themselves, that’s also something I appreciate.


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