Home > Hobbies > Poetry Corner > Problematic
These are a lot like some of Shakespeare's plays that don't really fit in only one category.
All poets tell us is of death and love
-F. C. Stamps
Background: My poetic mind usually thinks by default in iambic tetrameter with either couplet or alternating rhymed quatrains. So the difficulty I find in writing alternating quatrains of iambic pentameter has preventing me from producing sonnets. When I read Shakespeare's sonnets, the rhythm is obvious, but I fear my iambic pentameter is more appealing to the counting finger than to the listening heart. Like past poets, rather than formally titling my sonnets, I shall number them, beginning with this year's number since I don't plan on writing more than one a year, and this will make the undiscerning reader think I have written more than I actually have.
If you don't know what each astronomical phenomenon mentioned refers to or why it is so described, go look it up! The English word "planet" originates from the Greek word for "wanderer." The Polestar is Polaris. The Dog Star is Sirius, also known as Alpha Canis Major.
Background and Explication: I wanted to do something special for my first poem of the new millennium (though technically of course the 21st century does not start till 2001). Although most of the poem was written on the 20th of January, I inserted the fourth and fifth stanzas which I had previously written sometime in December. Thus, this is the first and the last poem of the millenniums. The ninth verse was also written earlier in January, before the rest of the piece. I believe the ninth stanza to be a climatic point in the poem.
The second stanza contains three images, namely, the slave wanting freedom more than anyone else, one being thirstiest when there is no water, and man wanting love the most when he cannot obtain it. The first concept I borrowed from Emily Dickinson's poem number 67 in which victory is wanted most by those who lose the battle. The image of thirst was given to me by an English professor of mine, Dr. Jesse Crisler, during the class discussion of Dickinson's poem. The third image of love is from Frank Norris novel McTeague in which a man longs after a woman who is, at first, unattainable as well as from life experiences. The allusion to thirst also has reference to McTeague, with its conclusion in the hot desert.
I gathered images in the third stanza from three sources. In the song "L.A. Song" a woman struggles to find freedom from pain which she believes is caused by her being L.A. only to find that the same feeling is found everywhere. Also like the lyrics of the song, the movie The Shawshank Redemption talks about how prison inmates can become dependant on prison walls when that is all they know. Finally, Flannery O'Connor's short story "The Displaced Person" includes the quote, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know." Thus, the speaker faces the question which is an amalgam of Shawshank and "The Displaced Person"--is the unknown set of problems, the untried life, better than the present one? The fourth line of the ninth stanza alludes back to the final four lines of the third stanza.
In the first two lines of the tenth stanza I used an important concept from the television series Deep Space Nine (which I really don't watch). In the show's opening episodes, the protagonist repetitively relives the death of his wife, and the normal progression of his life is damned as a result. Finally it is pointed out to him that that moment in time is where he chooses to exist. This stanza also refers back to stanza five and answers the questions asked there. The second two lines of the tenth stanza allude to the scripture found in the Old Testament book of Joshua. in chapter 24 verse 15 one reads: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
The eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth stanzas contain concepts derived from my personal experiences in Japan. For example, I learned there that it is easier to good after you start doing good, as pointed out in verse eleven. The same is true conversely; it is harder to do good when you do bad. One example of this is that I don't have any problem not smoking a cigarette because I have chosen not to smoke while a person who has chosen to smoke will undoubtedly find it terribly difficult to not smoke anymore. The twelfth stanza refers to a church doctrine in which one can progress spiritually to a point where they are sanctified from all sin by the Holy Ghost, but that's a whole other deep discussion. Also in stanza twelve is the lesson a wiseman once told me that one must not dwell on the negative if one is to overcome their challenges. Finally, in the thirteenth stanza, one last universal principle I learned during my time in the Orient: when we overcome our weaknesses which hold us down, then do we become the person we want to be.
The tenth and eleventh stanzas also refer to the doctrine that one should "Stand in holy places," which is that when one surrounds themselves with good influences and associates with people who are a good influence on them, it is easier to make right choices.
The fifteenth stanza is full of images from the scriptures as well as from the LDS Church hymnal. Balm of Gilead was a spice mentioned in the Bible. "An aromatic gum or spice used for healing wounds (Gen. 43:11; Jer. 8:22; 46:11; 51:8). A bush producing the resin from which the balm was made grew so plentifully in Gilead in O.T. times that the balm came to be known as the 'balm of Gilead,' and was exported to Tyre and Egypt (Gen. 37:25; Ezek. 27:17)" [BD 618]. This healing spice also appears in the hymn "Did You Think to Pray?" as does the line "Prayer will change the night to day," thus the final line of the stanza. And of course "I have fought the good fight" is a quote from the apostle Paul from the Second book of Timothy. The final line of this stanza does not suggest that the speaker's troubles are done away with, but rather that his attitude has changed. This change of attitude from existentialism to transcendentalism is also reflected in the second half of stanza fourteen.
As to imagery pointing to a possible theme; the mention of freedom in the last line of the eleventh stanza refers back to the second stanza. This line in the eleventh stanza combined with the thirteenth stanza point to the theme of "freedom=happiness." Then in the sixteenth stanza there is again the mention of flying or soaring, suggesting that "flying=freedom." Thus one can deduce that the imagery of flying, or happiness, is the opposite of sinking, or sorrow, as stated in the twelfth stanza. In this sense, the sixteenth stanza is the antithesis of the sixth stanza.
Much of the structure of this piece I tried to base on a poem about AIDS which was divided into halves, the first having a dark tone and the second having a very positive tone. Each of the poem's halves ended with a refrain, showing the speaker's tone. The first half dealt with abstract images whereas the second had concrete images. The writer even changed the rhyme scheme for the poem's second half. I read the poem at work on a break to help a coworker analyze it for his English class. I found the use of subtle changes in structure so interesting that I wanted to try to utilize them. However, looking at what I've written for this piece, I don't think I emulated the style very well.
I wrote the poem while studying some writings of Walt Whitman, and I think the poem's style may have been affected slightly by it. As is becoming my habit as of late, I tried to include as much alliteration as possible, as evident in the first stanza, though I still don't have as much as Wilbur has in his work. I realize the reading of the poem may be somewhat difficult, but I would suggest a pause at the end of each line for a successful reading. Even with its several universalities and what not, I am still not satisfied with this piece and am not sure it's a good poem at all. I suppose time will be the judge of that.
Lastly and most importantly, I got the title and idea for this poem in the first place from a piece of art I saw on the Internet by Suzanne Hudson. The drawing depicts her fictional anthropomorphic character, Syne, crying with the words, "I sink in my sorrow" written next to him. The file was uploaded December 8, 1999 as synesorw.jpg. The very existencialistic tone of this picture of Syne is contrasted in another of Hudson's works, syne20.jpg. Thank you Suzanne.
-F. C. Stamps
Background: Writing it at the end of my Junior year in high school, I wasn't sure where I was going with this piece as I wrote the first few stanzas; thus one may notice that there is no definite reference to any raven in the first five stanzas. I was just experimenting with the form I observed in Poe's "The Raven." It wasn't until I wrote the end of the sixth stanza that I decided to make the poem and sequel to Poe's work. I was pleased with the outcome of my efforts, especially considering that at the time I wrote the poem, I really had no idea what Poe's "The Raven" was about. I didn't even know what the difference between trochaic and iambic was. This is especially noticeable in the fifth line of the fifth stanza in which the regular trochaic pattern of the poem is interrupted by a sudden line of iambs. However, if read correctly, a harmonious rhythm is very attainable.
Background: I wrote this piece on a whim, trying to come up with stanzas in which each of the four lines could start with the same words. In other words, one could read the words "I fear I am" before each line of the first stanza and have it make sense. In fact, they don't make much sense without the introductory words. I've never heard of anyone else doing poetry like this, and I have no idea whether it's something new or if it's been thought of before.
Background: The first limerick, "Water," was written around the 1989, the subsequent limericks circa 1993, and the haiku in 1999. In the first limerick, the original text of the last line started with "For" not "Since." The rest of the limericks were written for the same English class as the poems "Turn," "Unkown," "Lamentations," and "Verb is a Noun.
Poetry copyright © 1998 by F. C. Stamps
|© 1999 - 2018 F. C. Stamps|