Friday, February 27, 2009

Falling Free, Flying Free

Sky pales
on time-lapse.
Sun leaps,
morning bell peals,
dew on sepals
utters silent pleas.

Unheard pleas
as a face pales,
crumpled like sepals.
Another "lapse"
evokes peals
of pain. Leaps

of faith, leaps
strung with wasted pleas
like beads, silent peals.
But faith pales
as every lapse
unfolds poison sepals.

Shedding sepals,
a flower leaps.
The stem begins to lapse
into decay. Its pleas
are trapped behind pales.
Its tongue peals

peals upon peals,
clamor muffled by sepals
collapsing. It pales.
No leaps
for a stem. No pleas
excuse its lapse.

The pale flower has run its last laps
of appealing to the stem, trying to please
and now leaps free of its own sepals.


This is a Newman sestina, as invented by Bob Newman (his Guide to Forms is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in developing their craft) and suggested by Poefusion. A Newman sestina is defined as a sestina whose end words are all anagrams of one another.

Obviously this doesn't give you a lot of choices.

Usually my goal in a sestina is to have the repetitions be as unobtrusive and natural to the poem as possible. In the case of a Newman, though, it seems the end words can't help but call attention to themselves by their similarity (of sound or vision-- it wouldn't really matter, I think, whether you were hearing or reading such a poem). So I decided to go the other direction, shortening the lines as much as possible to emphasize the end words.

You'll also notice that I kept the words in their original form, instead of employing the grammatical alternatives that are usually allowable in a sestina, to preserve the anagrammatic quality. Except in the envoi. Because of the two-end-words-per-line requirement of the envoi, I wasn't able to maintain the tight structure of the rest of the poem, so there's an unavoidable form break. I decided to emphasize it by changing the end words around some.

It's amazing how much poetry is shaped by making virtues out of necessities.

This is a difficult form and really doesn't offer much scope... but in scanning through the lists of anagrams at The Anagram Dictionary, I got some ideas that may yet bear fruit. Like, Newman quartinas (much less restrictive), sestinas made up of two anagrammatic trios, or poems that incorporate anagrams in some less structured form. Who could resist a poem about recusant Etruscan centaurs?

Collection available! Knocking from Inside

1 comment:

Michelle Johnson said...

Tiel, I love what you've done here with this anagrammatic form. I might have to try it again with shorter lines- someday. Hope all is well with you. Have a nice night. And, thanks for the link to the anagram dictionary.