home from 58 poems written at 29

Home — from 58 poems written at 29

You yanked up years of dreaming
When they pulled the plug out. Powerful longings —
How they flounder in flame. But fleeting are the ways
Friction frees us: it frames our pains
But tames truth — is the time we spend
Bitter a better base for erecting
Tomorrow’s morning? Minds fashioned
After the evening will ever fade
In the dreaming dawn. Dreadful, I know,
But the beacons are lit, they beam out,
Lingering light leads the way home
And the Fatherland foams with a fibrous tide —
This undertow aiming to pull
Us inward and upward. Isn’t it scary
To leave the land of your long birth
For the country that’s called Camelot by your people?

.  .  .

:: 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 ::

  1. Greenwood
  2. The Brooklyn Film Festival at Windmill Studios
  3. Rio Sunset Park
  4. The Ballad of the Writer’s Morning
  5. To Jack Across the Sea
  6. To Della Beyond the Veil
  7. Guantanamera
  8. Mother of Exiles
  9. Pane
READ NEXT:  Greenwood

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