Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Remorse by Siegfried Sassoon

Now here is a poem with legs, not necessarily the best by Siegfried Sassoon, but a poem with limitations - pace, meter, rhyme - something of the essential features that mark out a poem from a paragraph.

Sasson was one of the famous WWI British poets, who fought, was wounded, sent home to recover, then back to fight some more and yet survive:

Remorse *
by Siegfried Sassoon
Lost in the swamp and welter of the pit,
He flounders off the duck-boards; only he knows
Each flash and spouting crash,--each instant lit
When gloom reveals the streaming rain. He goes
Heavily, blindly on. And, while he blunders,
"Could anything be worse than this?"--he wonders,
Remembering how he saw those Germans run,
Screaming for mercy among the stumps of trees:
Green-faced, they dodged and darted: there was one
Livid with terror, clutching at his knees. . .
Our chaps were sticking 'em like pigs . . . "O hell!"
He thought--"there's things in war one dare not tell
Poor father sitting safe at home, who reads
Of dying heroes and their deathless deeds."

* Counter-Attack and Other Poems, by Siegfried Sassoon (Dutton and Co. 1918, p. 54) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

What's the Diff Xween Free Verse & a Pungent Paragraph or Two?

This excellent poem by Marie Howe has been floating around on the web for a couple of years. (See Sources below)

Does it answer the question:  What's the difference beween free verse and a pungent paragraph or two?

I want to write a love poem for the girls I kissed in seventh grade,
a song for what we did on the floor in the basement
of somebody’s parents’ house, a hymn for what we didn’t say but thought:
That feels good or I like that, when we learned how to open each others’ mouths
how to move our tongues to make somebody moan. We called it practicing, and
one was the boy, and we paired off – maybe six or eight girls – and turned out
the lights and kissed and kissed until we were stoned on kisses, and lifted our
nightgowns or let the straps drop, and Now you be the boy.
Concrete floor, sleeping bag or couch, playroom, game room, train room, laundry.
Linda’s basement was like a boat with booths and portholes
instead of windows. Gloria’s father had a bar downstairs with stools that spun,
plush carpeting. We kissed each other’s throats. 
We sucked each others’ breasts, and we left marks, and never spoke of it upstairs
outdoors, in daylight, not once. We did it, and it was
practicing, and slept, sprawled so our legs still locked or crossed, a hand still lost
in someone’s hair … and we grew up and hardly mentioned who
the first kiss really was — a girl like us, still sticky with the moisturizer we’d
shared in the bathroom. I want to write a song 
for that thick silence in the dark, and the first pure thrill of unreluctant desire
just before we made ourselves stop.