Twenty-four crypts: teeming mouths
songless closed, soothing whistlers
they pucker: Thayer, Galdwell,
Green, Michael — Greenwood blows
cyclonic, sites of graves
stirring waves up, staring stairs
down for prey. Dowreys in
stones displayed; stolen days,
stolen children — stoves aflame
the names! The dates! The native whistling
low till lakes blow circular.
Maelstrom made small in
Mortis’s walls. More teams
of ghosts, of wraiths go into
making it. Maybe a
disaster there is asterisks aground?
This year, for the 58 @ 29, I plan to focus on alliterative meter. It’s the meter used by Middle English and Old English poets as well as Latin and Greek poets. Basically all epic poets use some form of alliterative meter and it hasn’t been used in English for a thousand years. I will be pulling from the rules offered in Lewis’ article on The Alliterative Meter:
In the general reaction which has set in against the long reign of foreign, syllabic meters in English, it is a little remarkable that few have yet suggested a return to our own ancient system, the alliterative line…. Alliteration is no more the whole secret of this verse than rhyme is the whole secret of syllabic verse. It has, in addition, a metrical structure, which could stand alone, and which would then be to this system as blank verse is the syllabic….
A few successful specimens of alliterative meter would be an excellent answer to the type of critic (by no means extinct) who accuses the moderns of choosing vers libre because they are not men enough for meter. For if syllabic verse is like carving in wood and verse libre like working with a brush, alliterative meter is like carving in granite.
“Vers Libre” for those who don’t know is Latin for “free verse.” Lewis has, ultimately, offered for my poetry just the kind of reaction I prefer in all of my life: a reaction that is, deep down, orthodoxy. A reaction to dead branches as radical as the radish itself is to its dead leaf: radical because it is the root of the thing.
Here is the table of contents for my 58 attempts over the next year. After the monogram, I’m including a quote from Chesterton’s An Apology for Buffoons because it defends proper use of alliteration in English: