Boethius claimed badness or the wicked
Or evil is a disease, even as weakness
Wanes the body. Well, then, I
Am so sick, my friend. See my shakes?
See my quaking? Soothing balms
Of wiser words evade my mind
And its dreaming machine. A dry and an arid
Landscape was seeded along the trenches
Of my river valley, my rain cisterns
Than once evoked green. Why has the grain
Gone to be ground? The golden things moldy
And silence from sound? Spring will heal
The deserted and the dead: drink oh bulbs,
Come up in an anthem and empty the silence
Of all of itself. Evil is a disease
Like a weakness wanes us. But the weak things heal
And errors are evened and even corrected
And minor minds made Major.
. . .
:: 58 poems ::
• written at 29 years •
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 leaves as radical as the radish itself: radical because it is the living 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:
58 poems at 29 years old ::
- The Brooklyn Film Festival at Windmill Studios
- Rio Sunset Park
- The Ballad of the Writer’s Morning
- To Jack Across the Sea
- To Della Beyond the Veil
- Mother of Exiles
- Greenwood Cemetery Graves
- Upon Finding Your Old Prison Letter Prayers
- A Drizzle in Brooklyn
- Yoke of the Mother