April 19th, 2006

white rabbit

Gah! It's too hard!

Yes, I'm still laboring to produce a narrative poem before National Poetry Month slides into May.

I've been forcing myself to work in rhyming iambic pentameter, but it's just too hard. (She whined.) My feet are wrong! (Quick definition: The pentameter form is a line with five "feet" or clusters of two syllables adding up to ten syllables in a line. The stress in each line should fall on the second syllable.)

Sure, Shakespeare did just fine with pentameter. (She sniffed.) Big old Elizabethan.

I think I'm going to have better luck actually finishing the poem if I loosen up and allow my lines to be more or less ten syllables. I reprint the lyrics from one of my favorite old songs below, "The Long Black Veil." It's a narrative poem of more or less ten syllables a line.



Ten years ago, on a cold dark night
Someone was killed, 'neath the town hall light
There were few at the scene, but they all agreed
That the slayer who ran, looked a lot like me

The judge said son, what is your alibi
If you were somewhere else, then you won't have to die
I spoke not a word, thou it meant my life
For I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife

Chorus
She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me

Oh, the scaffold is high and eternity's near
She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear
But late at night, when the north wind blows
In a long black veil, she cries ov're my bones