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Ever notice how comedies and tragedies end the same?
O how endless thy mercy!
But why bless me with wealth
Thou hast denied me the one blessing I most desire
Truly, I am judged wicked in thy sight
Lord, send my roots rain2
Spring 2002, November 29th 2002
1 Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
Background: I wrote this poem in the spring of 2002, but a friend deleted
the original version from the computer it was stored on. This rewriting is not
as good as the original in some places and better than the original in other
places, and it is quite different from the original.
Why isn't it raining outside?
This sunny day mocks my pain
Away, cloudless sky of azure!
And you!--blue eyed lass
I just want my darkness
2001 or 2002
Background: This poem was written specifically for part of a larger
work, which I am still composing, Ten Tales of Tobermorey.
Happiness is far from here
I walk down the road of Loneliness
O the vastness of my loneliness!
* Alma 36:21; Doctrine & Covenants 76:48
In the following experiment, I will attempt to imitate a well-known, published poet in order to better understand some of the conventions used by such writers and gain a better comprehension of the craft. The poet I have selected as the subject of this research is Thom Gunn.
Although not all of Thom Gunn's poems are centered on love and lovemaking, a good number of them, such as those in his 1992 collection, The Man with Night Sweats, are focused on the what poet sees as the beauty of homosexual love. These lines from "The Hug" are just one example of Gunn's homoerotic imagery:
I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,
The poem, along with others such as "To a Friend in Time of Trouble," "Bone," and "An Invitation from San Francisco to my brother" show that the poem "The Bed" and "The Hug" are very much prototypical Gunn poems.
Along with his homoerotic imagery, Gunn shows a sense of loss of love in such poems as "The Dump" and the poem "The Man with Night Sweats." In addition, other aspects of Gunn's poetry include verse that upon first reading may appear to be free verse but actually contain subtle rhyme. Gunn also plays with typography, as shown in the lines above. And his imagery of love and love lost goes beyond the physical to thoughts and dreams as shown in "The Bed"-"but it still goes on/ Inside my head" as well as in "The Dump." I hope to imitate these characteristics of Gunn's poetry along with his plain speech.
You smile at me always with that same smile,
Your eyes look at me as if they see me
My imitation of Gunn does not contain as concrete imagery as I hoped it would, and the rhyme is not very subtle. I found it difficult to not mess with the syntax and still have the right word for the end rhyme. I still think "sorry" is not the right word. However, I feel that the poem subtly refers to homosexual love and lost love as well as looks into the mind of the speaker and not just his physical environment. Further, in writing the piece, I noticed that in several poems Gunn uses complete sentences, or complete thoughts rather, in each of his lines except the last line of the poem; I attempted to imitate this in the conclusion of my poem. The title, punctuation, and typography are also based closely on his poem, "The Bed," and a comparison of the two poems may prove beneficial.
Damn you, all who judge me
May 17, 1992
Background: Ironically, this poem was written during church. I wrote it on a page in my journal. My mind was wondering, but surprisingly, I wasn't in a bad mood despite the poem's dark tone
Background: "Turn," "Unkown," "Lamentations," and "Verb is a Noun" were all written on the same day as English class assignments on poetry. However, they far exceeded the mere bounds of homework. In my opinion, "Lamentations" is the most successful of the three former works. Not only is it one of the few acrostics I have ever written, but it really captures dramatic concepts of emotion compactly.
To all I say, The battle's won
February 12, 1994
Background: I was quite pleased with the play on words I was able to produce in the second, fourth, and eighth stanzas (the first stanza being a single line.) The first and last two lines of the poem were added shortly after I completed the rest of the work. The first line of the third stanza I borrowed from an earlier work of mine.
Things to wish for
November 23, 1995
Background: This is a very peculiar piece. It has a play on words between dreams and wishes which the reader has to really ponder in order to comprehend. The strange thing about this poem is that I wrote it with no particular person in mind; then exactly a month after I wrote it I was involved in a fatal car accident in which my friend's fiancée died. The poem strangely fits their tragedy to a tee. The accident was at night as stated in the third stanza, and since then my friend has understandably been chronically depressed. The second line in the seventh stanza I took from a song with the lyrics, "And I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain," and went on in the following lines to spell out the meaning of that phrase; so long since dreams could come true, so long to have to hide pain. I got the idea for the tenth stanza from another song in which the photograph of a long lost love is all that's left of them.
I wish today was tomorrow
April 15, 1996
Background: This short piece just came to me quickly in my mind as I wrote the words down. You will notice, of course, the intentional pattern of repeating the first two lines at the poem's end. Ironically, this poem was coincidentally written on April 15th, tax day in the U.S. and coincidentally the birthday of a girl I had never met when I wrote this poem but who later wound up being my wife. The poem is not about taxes nor my wife's birthday.
There are two sides to peace
And within is joy beyond price
Background: I don't Remember exactly when I wrote this poem, but I believe it was over the course of a couple weeks during the months of September and October, before October 17th. I had recently returned home from two years in Japan July of that year, and in December of that year I left for Hawaii for three years. It is a very short, free verse piece with reference to peace of conscience. Then later, I rewrote the lines in rhymed verse as part of a longer work I started working on while in Hawaii, Ten Tales of Tobermorey.
With peace there are sides two
The outside looking in is hell
But I can't seem to stay inside
My guilt and pain do not cease
Curse the night for the dreams it brings
I curse the dreams that can't come true
Cursed wild dream which still hurts me
How is it that e'en in heav'n's highest halls
Why haunt me do you as hunger haunts the poor?
Leave me be thou wretch of life's fall
August 10, 1999
Background: I wrote this poem while studying Shakespeare's play, Othello, thus the language was influenced somewhat by the classic work. Notice the use of alliteration in the fourth stanza.
If I weren't dead I'd kill myself
I have wasted my time here
Fools! How could happen let you this?
I refuse to become like you
By and by truth stays the same
For how can man be thus changed
Don't leave me
March 16, 1994
Background: This a fair poem for one of my earlier works, but it's not the greatest in the world, and I sometimes wonder whether I should just rewrite the whole thing. I originally titled the piece "Normalcy," and the second, third and fourth stanzas reflect my disgust at the time with people's tendency to get caught up in mundane cares while neglecting those things truly important in life. (This theme is also seen in the poem "I Was There.") Then the fifth and sixth stanzas question how could man's spirit come into existence through truth if people change yet truth changes not. And the final stanza takes the reader back to the concepts of the opening stanza.
January 24-26, 2000
Background: I had just heard of the form "double acrostic" in which the same word is spelled out with the first letter of each line of a poem as with the last letter of each line. I wanted to create a new kind of double acrostic, one that spelled out two different words, but gave up and finished the piece as a free style poem. I have seen poems like this before, called emblem poems, that use words to make pictures, but I have never seen one where the words were linked together. I am sure somebody must have thought of this before me though. It is somewhat like a crossword puzzle.
Did the leaves color change while I wasnt looking?
Where was I when summers sun was shining?
What happened to the years now past?
Background: I wrote this short piece a few months after my return from Japan, but did not find the word to rhyme with 'looking' in the third line until June 2000, when I inserted the lines into the larger piece I was working on at the time, Ten Tales of Tobermorey.
Four years have past since I came to be
Into the Ko'olaus we hiked one day
Though high into the mount were we
No birds greeted us as we reached our goal
For long have I journeyed and grueling the pace
No chance is given for the view to see
I think on what Wordsworth said of this life
On our hike back I spied a rainbow
Four years have past not worth their cost
-F. C. Stamps
Background: The long title of this piece was inspired by Wordsworth's poem "Lines Composed a few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798." Although the title may be a spoof on Wordworth's overly lengthy title, the poem is not a parody of his poetry. This piece contrasts Wordsworth's inspiring experience at Tintern Abbey with my sometimes less than inspiring experience at university. Line 18 is a modification of Brigham Young's famous quote upon beholding the Great Salt Lake Valley, "This is the place." Line 26 is a quote from another poem by Wordsworth, "The Tables Turned."
The allusions to a rainbow in lines 29 & 30 are an ironic contrast to the Wordsworth use of it in more than one of his poems. Wordsworth speaks of the beauty of nature, and I speak of the ruin of life by out of touch institutions. This poem does not necessarily reflect all my views of the school at all times, only my frustration at times with many of the double standards and asinine policies of the university as well as the self defeating practice of needlessly rushing through studies to meet artificially and arbitrarily set mandates and deadlines.
The Ko'olau Mountain Range referred to in line 5 is the major mountain range on the island of Oahu. The small town of Laie, home of the university is located at the base of the Ko'olaus on the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the windward side of the island.
Since I wrote the above poem, I hiked back up into those mountains and my heart was changed when I reached the peak of the mountain range. Please see the poem MORE LINES.
Did you see my face in the crowd that day?
Poetry copyright © 1998 by F. C. Stamps
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