You yearned for your homeland.
Always do. After the era
passes you, you pass too.
Music styles wane as moons,
Norwood’s fiddle when new knew you,
knew grandkids too, never me
though or the little themes that we know,
millennials make do. My how the strings
request of me: “Play.” Can resonance reach
across a sea? Out from you
unto we who sing? Or… are the strings
synced to this season of century gone?
Their song sung and strings rung out
whenever loss leaves us songless?
I’ve made my mothers feel
not so proud. So crowds take me.
But you are yearning. You quietly burn.
Obscurity scorns the scoop, awards —
The sounds of clapping cloven from hearts
Like you and yourn. Younger men make
Mistakes of fame, stake their claims on
Followers fondling, but fallow grounds
Grow up greenlings, great and silver
Towering trees take seeds to start,
Kernel and soil, corn and soot.
Thank you for thinking of us,
Toiling away at tender things,
Toiling away like tinder twigs
Will smolder — sparks and older twine.
Hope I that I will integrate
The privacy that premies bring
To wombs or moss weathers in shadows
Or stalagtites steal from stubborn ores
Deep beneath the dungeons.
The axis of our world acts unseen,
Yet it spins and clings to spiritual things.
We owe ourselves to owlish beings:
Nocturnal, wise, weathered, silent,
Sure to sneak snow mice in cold,
And watching, ever watching us
With eyes that know. With eyes of stone
That melted long ago in the River Jordan.
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: