Poetry Thursday: Omi and the bird

She stands, pressed hands to glass to look

upon summer morn. A bird flits,
from to and fro, in leaves of trees,
swoop to sip from lemonade buds,
lending joy to common places.

A small hand touches mine, and then
a single word, soft: “bird.” She beams
in pride. Equally pleased, I pause
to give her a pat, feet padding
to patio door. And open,

warmth rushes inside, she rushes out,
a pout on her face and dawning
realization. It is neither
as lovely as she imagined
nor as free, and the bird is gone.

This started as an exercise in blank verse. Although I abandoned the attempt to form this into iambic pentameter, I would very much welcome critique. Particularly on meter. It is a weak point of mine and I am trying to improve on that.

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4 thoughts on “Poetry Thursday: Omi and the bird

  1. Niqui, I see a lot of IP / blank verse here. I also enjoyed the cool sound-work: pat padding patio, swoop to sip. Loved this snapshot of a little girl who names and wants the elusive, then is hit by heat and loses the bird in the real world beyond the glass.

    Sorella

  2. Hi Niqui,

    I don’t see a single line of blank verse here. It looks like your brain is trying to slip you into tetrameter–four stresses to a line instead of five. Perhaps you’d find iambic tetrameter an easier exercise to start out with. (I always wonder why people are told to start with IP when tetrameter and ballad meter are so much more intuitive.)

    It still doesn’t much scan. Here’s the first five lines, interpreted through the lens of iambic tetrameter:

    she STANDS,/ PRESSED hands/ to GLASS/ to LOOK
    (I’m not entirely sure how to distribute the stresses on “pressed hands”, but it looks like you’ve got a trochaic substitution in your second foot.)

    u PON/ SUM mer/ MORN. a/ BIRD FLITS,
    (This doesn’t scan at all: you’ve got one iamb, two trochees, and a spondee, and that’s enough substitutions to make me lose the meter.)

    from TO/ and FRO,/ in LEAVES/ of TREES,
    (Perfect iambic tetrameter, no substitutions)

    SWOOP to/ SIP from/ LEM on/ ade BUDS,
    (Nearly all trochees.)

    LEND ing/ JOY to/ COM mon/ PLA ces.
    (All trochees. In the right context, it could scan as
    LEND/ ing JOY/ to COM/ mon PLA ces,
    an iambic line with no “head” and a “tail”, but you haven’t set up sufficiently strong metric expectations to make me want to scan it that way.)

    Got to run, but best of luck with the scansion in future. (I’ll be happy to comment on something next week.)

    • Thanks alot Rachael for the breakdown. I don’t know if it’s how language has evolved since Shakespeare or if it’s just me, but IP is like a foreign language to me lol. I just don’t hear/feel the stresses the right way. *facepalm* Maybe I will practice iambic tetrameter instead 😀

      Also, thanks Sorella for the comment. I only really started paying attention to sonics recently. Sometimes I can pull some decent ones off, sometimes not ^^;

      Thanks for stopping by ladies. ❤

      • Slow on the uptake here, but I think IP is just straight-up weird from a musical perspective. Ballad meter or tetrameter are structured around something like a 4/4 measure; you can tap your foot to them. IP doesn’t really lend itself to musical understanding so easily. Another helpful metric exercise might be to find something whose rhythm makes more intuitive sense to you–did you jump rope as a kid, or can you think of a song with a good strong beat?–and then try to imitate that rhythm with your own words.

        Another thing might help (and I am 100% serious here) is a drum circle. Grab some pots and pans and try to make a 4/4 measure with your friends. (I hope I’m not being totally confusing with the music talk here. 4/4 rhythm just goes ONE two THREE four over and over again; it’s hard to explain over the Internet but really easy to demonstrate in person.)

        Well, there’s me spouting off with advice, anyway. But the basic thought is that if you’ve got any experience with music, or rhythmic kids’ games, you can exploit that experience for poetry. And also that, as hard as some people drum on IP, it’s not really the be-all and end-all of rhythm.

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