Friday, November 12, 2010

Poetry Friday: Form and Failure

Today's Poetry Friday is hosted by Scrub a Dub Tub.

I owe a lot to Billy Collins, especially for what he taught me with his poem "Paradelle for Susan."
The paradelle is a demanding form. It requires the appearance of identical lines and the reuse of all words and no other words as the form progresses. Perhaps it is easier to accomplish in imaginary French.*

The last line of this poem is, I think, genius:

       "Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to."

It's that little scurf of mundane words that got pushed along to the end that fascinates me. This is what it took to keep the form. It always makes me smile.

I, personally, like formal poetry with rhyme and meter and secret demands on the poet. I personally, have very little success when I try to write that way. But trying is delightful. It nudges me into new discoveries.

This is Hoot. He's an Aussiedoodle.
Although he isn't a border collie, he exhibits--
shall we call it "commitment" ?

I also appreciate his form,
which often seems formless.

Happy birthday, Hoot.

Here, in honor of Hoot the Dog's first birthday is my sonnet (sort of)...

Border Collie Personality Disorder

Thank you for the useful diagnosis;
It has been a window into my soul.
Arrow knocked on bowstring: I cannot miss.
I don’t shirk from my duty or its toll.

I burn seven years while they wander one.
I protect the destiny of the lamb.
My teeth are small; my paws dull when I run;
On my back, too, the sorrow of the ram.

Accuse me of the wolf’s lurking intent—
My engine is the same wolf’s broken heart.
I beat in the direction I am sent;
Without a shepherd, I fulfill my part.

If all were lost to me, how would I end?
I will herd cats before my purpose bends.

* Collins made it up, including a centuries-long pedigree.  

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