Poetry Friday: {for every ending}

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Flushed with triumph from successfully wrestling down the villanelle form in early December (and possibly still drunk on Thanksgiving turkey), the Poetry Seven decided to launch immediately into the next project — the rondeau redoublé, or a double round. Or, somebody decided we’d launch immediately, anyway. And then, we came up with a form — another simple-yet-complicated French form. (We were asked to take note that this time the suggestion of form did not come from The Poet Also Known As The Demented and Shilling Pied Piper of the Dark Side. Not this time, anyway.

Duly noted.)

Anyway, however this enthusiastic embrace of another poetry project came about (cough), we all agreed that the loose theme of “a new start” was a good one, and we each leapt off in pursuit of our poem. Except me. Not knowing what I was doing, I did a little research first. And then a little more. A roundeau redoublé is made up of five stanzas of four lines each, with just two simple rhymes, and with each of the first four lines of the first stanza repeated, in turn, as the last line of each successive stanza.

On the surface, at least from a structural standpoint, nothing could be easier. Iambic pentameter, only two rhymes to worry about, and each line taking a turn as a last line – so you only have to write three new ones each time? No problem, right?

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But oh, in terms of emphasis and meaning — this redoublé thing turned out to be hard – in many ways, harder than that sestina that is still percolating away on my poetic back burner.

And then Christmas passed and the new year began, and life colluded to make this a project of even greater difficulty. Winter blues and blahs, recurring illness, rabid computer viruses, hellaciously busy schedules, and deaths in the family — we are poets besieged, at this point. And yet, it was important to each one of us to keep playing with this, to see what we could come up with. Perhaps because we are promising ourselves that there’s an ending in there somewhere, and that a new start is possible. Especially for me, this week, this poem has suddenly become important. I really hope that it’s true. That life is a curving figure eight, that there’s a new door opening for every closure. Here’s hoping.

For Every Ending

– for Tricia

For every ending, tales begin anew:
A lifeless seed through frost-rimed earth explodes
A Phoenix dies in flames to life renew,
Each end a start, a second chance bestowed.

The soughing wind shrills winter’s twig-boned ode ,
Mists, ice, and gray is naught but winter’s due;
The pulse of Life still beats, though it has slowed.
For every ending, tales begin anew.

The curtain’s fall is summer’s backstage cue,
And autumn’s players verve and skill bestowed.
The death scene next – Life bids the world adieu.
(A lifeless seed through frost-rimed earth explodes…)

We only reap of that which we have sowed;
Thus every tale brings grief and stumbles, too.
A sickness in our rose, our loss, a load.
The Phoenix dies in flames, too. Life renews.

A life in death laid bare for our review,
The Möbius no start or end has showed.
Death clings to Life, which changes what seems true;
Each end a start, a second chance bestowed.

With “carpe diem” we defy our foe,
For Life persists, from dusk ’til morning’s dew.
Inertia flees, life’s cycle round us flows,
Insistent drum, our hearts this hope imbues
For every ending.

The truth of poetry seems to be this: the more complicated the form, the simpler the language you must use. That’s tricky for me; somehow poetry seems to call forth my urge toward purple prose, and I will chose a three syllable SAT word where a single syllable description will do. I have at least three versions of this poem, and even posting it here, I was twiddling with word choices and scowling at meter, and then I realized that I’ve spent most of the morning on this and I let it go. Or, I will, anyway. In a minute.

Le sigh dramatique.

Eventually, I’ll get over myself. Meanwhile, there are more roundeau redoublés from our poetry princesses to sample today. Please see:

Poetry Friday today is hosted by the lovely Danika at TeachingBooks.net. Happy Friday.

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12 Replies to “Poetry Friday: {for every ending}”

  1. As I start to ease my way back into reading again, I find this poem, and it is what I need to read. It resonates with me as a prequel to “People Look East.” It is an apt observation that the more complex a poetic form, the simpler, the truer the words must be.

  2. Tanita, this is so lovely! My favorite lines: “A sickness in our rose, our loss, a load.
    The Phoenix dies in flames, too. Life renews.”

    With all it took to get here – so wonderful! I’m so so grateful to you & all the poetry seven for this never-ending cheer: “The Phoenix dies in flames, too. Life renews.”

  3. Things I love about your poem:
    1. The way the phoenix line changes.
    2. The way the poem weaves like the Möbius you mention.
    3. The defiance of “carpe diem.”

    Thanks to you and the other Poetry Princesses for a fabulous Friday!

  4. Your line “soughing wind shrills winter’s twig-boned ode” cuts through me as chill as a gust of such a wind.

    How lovely of you to write a poem for Tricia. The “insistent drum” of poetry is what we need some days. Maybe ALL days.

  5. Oh, Tanita. You’ve walloped me here in a way I wasn’t expecting. Big fat hopeful tears. Thank you thank you thank you… It’s like it’s you and Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning all in one, only prettier. Sigh…

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