Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Twenty (Four) Lines in Iambic Pentameter

I managed to write a lot of poetry just from reading the stuff and looking at websites on the subject and I think I have learnt a lot. However, I wanted to take it further and maybe read around the subject in a more systematic way. With that in mind I recently had a look on Amazon to see what sort of books were available. In the end I bought Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelledas the majority of the reviews were positive and, from the excerpt I read online, it didn't seem too highbrow.

Now, this is not a review as I have only just started to read the book. Nevertheless, it has already proved thought provoking as well as informative. I have also tried the exercises that Mr. Fry has set for the budding poet.

One of the first of these exercises is to write a number of lines in Iambic Pentameter. It wasn't supposed to be a poem but, as I continued with the task, I did find a sort of story emerging. So, here is the story of my morning, told in blank verse:

Stephen Fry’s Exercises

Twenty (Four) Lines in Iambic Pentameter

I must decide what I am going to do,
As I don’t have to go to work today,
I could go shopping, as I need new shoes,
Or else I could just waste the day away.

I’m drinking coffee staring at the screen,
Wondering what I’m about to write.
My wife is cooking sausages for me
She’s called me to come through; it’s time to eat….

…Okay, I’m at my keyboard once again,
I’m trying to do a poetry exercise,
It’s from a book I bought by Stephen Fry,
I could just sit here trying to write these lines.

They do get quite addictive to compose,
I doubt that I could write them all at speed,
Ten minutes for all twenty seems quite fast,
I guess I mustn't stop or think too hard.

But when I find I start to doubt myself,
It’s then I have to call a halt and try,
To count the beat upon the wooden desk,
Though when I check I’ve usually done it right.

I wonder if all poets do the same,
Did Dylan Thomas count with bleary eyes,
When he composed his famous Villanelle,
"Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night"?

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