Snow on the stones, salts and ices
That garnish the graves. Greenwood waits
For the day when dawn doffs the wrappings
And garments of granites, the garland of a robe
Or a blanket’s mask on the bleak pillars
Like condoms or clasps of copper bracelets
Or the hood of The Grim. How will their clothing
Slip away like a summer nightie
Or an iPhone sleeve? I sing a
Dirge of laughter. Dream, I, a
Joke of tears. Just as the summer
Shatters after sunlight sears
And the great globe burns. For God will decloak
These old oaks, these overgrown pillars
Whose moss remembers the making of life
From our rotting rinds. And ruin is quickly
Impotent rendered. Import is the weight
Given from without. Graces make
The meaning mind. And a mountain of giant
Phalluses vanish before the Master’s
Vanishing veil and the varnish fades
And the stone statues stand upward
As men of bone and mothers’ faces.
. . .
:: 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: