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Jan's Master Class--Quatrain

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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CatLin
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Postby CatLin » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:07 pm

I'm not fond of the last line, but I finally got the meter right (if you read "heav'n as one syllable :wink:) and it's grammatically correct (unlike this run-on sentence) so I'll leave it as is.
:D

Great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth
do not need to be a man’s fate;
confessing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
breaks open the lock to heav’n’s gate.
Catrina Bradley
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Scattered Seeds
Jewels of Encouragement

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:11 pm

CatLin wrote:Great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth
do not need to be a man’s fate;
confessing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
breaks open the lock to heav’n’s gate.


Oh, very good, Cat!

This is a teeny nitpick, but I kind of think I might capitalize the first letter of each line. I didn't mention it before--but that's the most common way to write rhymed poetry, even if (as your 4th line) it's right in the middle of a sentence.

But it's not a hard and fast rule--your call.

I should have mentioned punctuation in my lesson, too--you did it exactly right. Punctuate as you would if it were prose.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby CatLin » Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:18 pm

This is a teeny nitpick, but I kind of think I might capitalize the first letter of each line. I didn't mention it before--but that's the most common way to write rhymed poetry, even if (as your 4th line) it's right in the middle of a sentence.


Thanks Jan - I was wondering about capitalization. Good to know. :D
Catrina Bradley
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"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)

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Postby latebloomer1 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:04 am

Hi Jan:
You said this kind of poetry should rhyme...In your example of Issac Bickerstaff, (abab), move and love, (in my view), don't truly rhyme. Close, but not exact...are you saying that is OK?? thanks, Brian

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Postby glorybee » Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:09 am

HI, Brian!

Nice to see a new voice in the class, and that's a great question.

Isaac Bickerstaff (pen name for Jonathan Swift) was British, so those words rhymed for him...

...but even more to the point of your question, move and love are what is called "slant rhyme" or "near rhyme", and they're perfectly fine.

Hope to read a quatrain from you soon!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Verna » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:33 am

I'm busy, busy, busy in an editing project, but I can't resist dropping in on my favorite teacher's class!


Poetic license sets you free
From keeping within boundaries,
But rules--you gotta' know 'em
To write a metered poem.
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
http://www.magnificomanuscripts.com/

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Postby yvonne » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:39 am

Love it, Verna! :heehee


vonnie

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Postby glorybee » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:48 am

Verna wrote:Poetic license sets you free
From keeping within boundaries,
But rules--you gotta' know 'em
To write a metered poem.


Oh Verna, how clever! A fun, unique meter (8,8,7,7), and an exceptionally clever rhyme in the last two lines.

You're so good!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Pat » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:24 am

Does looking out my window,
Make life a little lighter?
As winds of change flow,
As wings climb higher?

I think the meter is a little tricky on this one because of my word choices of 'wings,' 'climb' and 'change.' (It takes a slight pause to pronoun climb after wings) (?)

But it kinda works!
Last edited by Pat on Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby glorybee » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:30 am

Pat wrote:Does looking out my window,
Make life a little lighter?
As winds of change flow,
As wings climb higher?

I think the meter is a little tricky on this one because of my word choices of 'wings,' 'climb' and 'change.'

But it kinda works!


Pat, it definitely works for me--meter and rhyme are fine--but I especially like all of the rich meaning that you packed into one little quatrain. Lovely!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby lthomas » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:45 am

You guys make it look so, so easy. Here's my 2nd try:

<i>Moonlight flickers through graying clouds
Hide and seek it wants to play
Giggles and mirth behind the shrouds
Peek a boo its joy today</i>

Loren
"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." From "As You Like It." Wm. Shakespeare.

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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:58 am

Jan, taking you up on your offer to jump in with stuff, here are a few thoughts. I’m glad you mentioned meter because it is very important for quatrains since it is rare (but not unheard of) to see free verse quatrains. All other quatrains (blank or rhymed) must—by definition—be written in meter.

Here are a few things about that that I’ve noticed in things that people have posted.

First, regarding the point (from the haiku lesson) that certain words can be one pronounced more than one way, resulting in a different number of syllables. In metered poetry sometimes reader is “supposed” to read it the way it fits the meter (every: ev-er-y vs. ev-ry) EVEN IF that is not the normal way that reader (or anyone) would read it. This is very important when reading certain types of poetry from certain eras. Here are two examples from Poetic Meter and Poetic Form by Paul Fussell (one of THE “bibles” on poetry):

1. In the poem “Paradise Lost,” in the line “Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit” the word “disobedience” is supposed to be read dis-o-bed-yence, not dis-o-bed-i-ence since the syllable count is very important in this poetic form. (If anybody cares, that is called synaieresis or synaloepha.) As far as I know, there is no way to indicate that to your readers.
2. In the poem “The Deserted Village,” in the lie “ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,” the word “hastening” is supposed to be read “hast’ning,” again because the syllable count is so important in this poetic form. This CAN be indicated to the reader (as I’ve just shown) so why not do it if that’s what you want? (If anybody cares, that is called syncope.)

Second, I would have “scanned” (marked the stressed and unstressed syllables) the last line of Jer’s poem slightly differently than Jan did. This raises several points. 1) It is often true that a line CAN be scanned more than one way—different readers will read a line differently. 2) Sometimes the meter/rhythm can be so powerful that it “forces” the reader to emphasize the syllables of a word differently than normal. Again stealing an example from Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, the meter could “force” the reader to pronounce the word “detail” as DE-tail or de-TAIL. 3) Even though a reader, when not forced, may often read a line differently, the poet should still PLAN the poem the way he wants it to be read so that he can be deliberate about the meter.

I always found scanning my poems rather difficult, but I am better at it now (I hope!). One thing I did to try to get better at this was to scan famous poems and then compare my results to other people’s results. Of course, this can be frustrating due to differences in reading (per item 1 in the previous paragraph) and because sometimes people are just wrong. An example of wrong scanning is the almost (but praise the Lord, not quite) universal scanning of the opening line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 18: “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?” That is claimed to be an example of STRICT iambic pentameter, that is, a series of unstressed-stressed syllables repeated 5 times. I don’t think so, Tim! (Anybody disagree?) And since it is the opening line, the rhythm is not established enough to “force” us to read it that way.

All of that to say, scanning and being deliberate about meter is hard to master and hard to do even then, BUT we need to if we want to make progress with our poetry. There are many different established meters which all have fancy names, but we usually don’t have to know the names to be deliberate. We can just decide, for example, I want a meter of stressed-unstressed-stressed repeated four times. (I say “usually” because some poems are defined in terms of the fancy names, for example a sonnet is composed of 14 lines of iambic pentameter.)

Third, once we have gotten deliberate about having a consistent meter—and that is what Jan is teaching here—we should include variations on purpose. The variation should normally always have a specific purpose. There are innumerable examples, but I only have time for one: switching from unstressed-stressed to stressed-unstressed can add a feeling of urgency. There is no end of material on the internet or in books on “substitution” or “variation.” Here is a poem I wrote for the Challenge in which the basic meter was iambic tetrameter (unstressed-stressed repeated four times for each line) and in which EVERY variation was deliberate. There are a couple of the variations that I’m not fully satisfied with now, but at least they were all chosen for a reason. (All stanzas are quatrains, except for the sestet in the middle): The Humiliation and Exultation of Our Lord

Fourth, there is also the issue of pauses or “caesuras.” They can serve two different purposes. First, in certain styles they should be planned to be in the middle; this is virtually a “rule” for these styles and adds another dimension as much as meter and rhyming scheme. In styles in which caesuras are not required to be in the middle, placing them there makes the poem feel more formal. Second, in most styles caesuras are deliberately moved around and contribute to the overall rhythm and emotional impact of the poem. One poem in which I think we can clearly see the impact of censura is this one posted by Vonnie on page 1 of this thread:

It will not stop; it does not wait-
Pushing, pulsing, ticking forward,
I want to sit, to rest, to breathe,
Let the world keep marching onward.

OK, enough poetry. Back to defending the Illinois moment of silence law!
Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby glorybee » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:13 pm

lthomas wrote:You guys make it look so, so easy. Here's my 2nd try:

<i>Moonlight flickers through graying clouds
Hide and seek it wants to play
Giggles and mirth behind the shrouds
Peek a boo its joy today</i>

Loren


There you go, Loren! What a charming image, too!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:15 pm

P.S. If you want to read some quatrains with virtually perfect and sustained meter (and a few very effective substatutions) written by "one of us," read this: The Heart of Lucinda Druell
Steve
nlf.net
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby glorybee » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:17 pm

Oh good, I was wondering when you'd pop in to this lesson, Steve!

I highly recommend that you all--especially advanced poets--read through Steve's examples. They're so good! And if you do nothing else, definitely click his link to the Challenge entry he refers to in his first post...it's gorgeous, and I wish it had gotten some more recognition.

The poem in his second post, I believe, won the Best of Best a few years ago, and deservedly so.

Thanks so much, Steve. I learn from you every time.
Last edited by glorybee on Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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