Putting Poetry Into Practice

Last week we delved into the realm of iambic tetrameter. After we review a bit, I’m going to give some examples. Remember that an iamb is a metrical foot consisting of one short, or unstressed, syllable followed by a long, or stressed, syllable. Tetrameter means there are four beats per line. The unit is counted in syllables that are unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed, and stressed. Maybe an easier way to feel this is to say duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH. Either way, the point is simple. Four beats, unstressed, stressed, and a whole lot of rhythmic emotion. Another reason I used it for Beowulf: The Midgard Epic stems from the natural feeling accommodated by reading it aloud.

But when I say unstressed, stressed, or duh-Duh, how does that apply to actual words? Let’s take a look.

A maiden fair came round the way

A is unstressed … the duh.
Maiden has two syllables. Mai gets the stressed accent, and den gets the unstressed. Wr are now at duh-DUH-duh.
Fair is stressed. DUH. (Feels very valley girl, right?)
Came, unstressed, round, stressed, the, unstressed, way, stressed.

A maiden fair came round the way
duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH

And there it is! Let’s do another.

Above the castle keep to play

Above has two syllables. duh-DUH.
The, duh, castle, DUH-duh.
Keep, stressed, to, unstressed, play, stressed.

Above the castle keep to play.
duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH

Now it’s time to practice what I preach!

A maiden fair came round the way
Above the castle keep to play
Rapunzel, letting down her hair
Unto the prince who met her there
And climbed atop the tower wall
As she would loose her locks to fall
And all was fine in love and life
Until the witch came with a knife
Removing all the hair in length
Appearing to deplete the strength
Of what the two in love had shared
Rapunzel cried; how she despaired
But came the prince in secret path
And lo, the witch felt all his wrath
Disposed of, falling to her death
As down below, her final breath
Escaped her lips as shadows draped
Rapunzel and her prince escaped
Departing in the setting sun
Another happy ending won …

There you have it! A brief retelling of Rapunzel in iambic tetrameter. Feel free to try one yourself and leave it in my comments below. Until next time, happy writing!image

Unferth Had His Reasons …

 

The prequel continues next week. Today’s bit of flash fiction poetry gives insight into why Unferth hated Beowulf so much, at least while the tale continues under my supervision. This could be a bit of foreshadowing. Much adventure awaits in the lands of Midgard, and it goes way beyond a funeral and a dragon’s death …

Grendel’s Mother
(Unferth’s Lament)

I have lain with Grendel’s mother; she has been my income’s source;
Gave me pleasure like no other; gave me heartache and divorce.
Mortal men have known no measure; she, a serpent wolfskin drape.
Sultry, sensual; a treasure bound about me, noose to nape.
Claws as razors, cutting edge, demonic in her lusty suit;
Now I wallow in her flavor, tastes entice me to pollute.
When I gaze into my war-shield, me, not she, I realize
Is and was the only monster, waking from a dream’s demise.
Unferth, as this world may know me, magically sealed within.
I alone have brought this trauma; I alone have walked in sin.
Hrunting was the sword she gave me; Hrunting failed the warrior’s grip.
She designed it not to harm her, I had sent it on his trip.
Beowulf, the braggart boasting, how was I to know her fate?
He returned my sword while toasting; spoke of it as something great.
Yet it was not mine that ended life from Grendel’s mother’s chest.
No, it was Goliath’s blade that lopped her head and rend her breast.
Standing with my one reminder, Hrunting placed back in its sheath,
Heavy was my need to find her, hung about in sorrow’s wreath.
I had feared the seething waters teeming with destructive life.
Now I murdered someone’s daughter; in a sense I lost my wife.
Truth be told her venom soothed me; filled me with the strength of ten.
Now I felt the wind beneath me scale me down as other men.
Still beyond the deepest ocean, whale-road’s open call to me
Cradled me with but one notion: I must brave the lonely sea
In the hopes that of her secrets, one might prove a flame to singe,
Pledging on the blade of Hrunting, Beowulf shall know revenge!

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Iambic Tetrameter

image.jpegRecovering from tubes hasn’t been as easy as I anticipated. However, I am creature of habit if nothing else, and determination has always been a strong suit of mine. Thus, I decided no matter what, I would get myself up and about to share some of my passion for poetry. Beowulf: The Midgard Epic will be releasing soon. In order to craft a deeper understanding of why I chose to use iambic tetrameter, the answer is simple. Danny Gamble. Back in 1999, I took a British/Irish Lit course. He was my professor. At the end of the semester he read some of my rhyming stories. Upon completion, his advice was simple. “Clean up your rhyme scheme.” And so I did.

I’m not one to follow the rules. I often color outside of the lines. But poetry, like the laws of physics, has certain elements that must be adhered to. I’m not saying don’t experiment. I’m not saying don’t use prose. What I am saying is this: rhyming takes discipline. Like any fine art it takes practice and patience to hone your skill. Did I set out as as writer, as a poet, to get stuck in certain cogs and grooves of meter? Absolutely not. But Gamble made me realize sometimes as a poet, or a particular type of poet, I should say, you have to suck it up and follow the rules.

This might put some of you out. It did me at first. In fact, I almost stopped the pursuit of epic poetry all together. Then it hit me. I wanted to write like the classics. And in today’s pool of writers that makes me obscure; it makes me unique. In a sea full of fish, I’m a turtle. And gladly so. My passion comes in rhyming. Which leads to my ultimate goal as a writer: to inspire others to achieve their passion. So, iambic tetrameter. Why that format?

When telling a story, this method accentuates the flow and rhythm of the action. Depending on the word usage, it slows down or speeds up the reader while they engage in the rhyming tale. Iambic tetrameter becomes the soundtrack to the story, so to speak. Before you know it, your mind has looped into the rhythm’s rope, and its pulling you gracefully along for a wordy ride.

Here’s a great website that explains how this works: http://study.com/academy/lesson/iambic-tetrameter-definition-examples-quiz.html.

My main goal today is to familiarize you with the basics of this structure. Iambic tetrameter … A past life of poetry coming back to the modern era full throttle! Next week I’ll give some examples, and open the floor for you to share some of your own. Until then, happy writing!

Beowulf: The Midgard Horrors Continued …

A peasant woman, so to speak,
Appearing frail and old and weak
Became the measure to ensnare,
As Gandolina donned grey hair
And called forth children to her keep,
Alone, to make their parents weep.
The village where she came to dwell,
Enveloped in nightmarish hell,
Could not foresee the damage done
To every daughter; every son.

Her appetite’s voracious wont
Became the measure meant to haunt
The minds and dreams of all around
And did so ere she touched the ground.

Concealed within her quaint disguise
The world about had blinded eyes
And Gandolina had her fill,
Conducting magic at her will.
The witch could shape the wind and trees;
At other times, controlled the breeze.
She brought good fortune to the seas
Where creatures dwelt and brought disease.
Suspicion drew from in the well
Of nagging doubt and came to swell
Within the chest of one man’s heart.
His daughter’s body, torn apart
Had been discovered near his home.
He and his wife began to roam
The countryside in search of hope
Or measures that would help them cope
And bring back answers, but instead
They stumbled on their missing dead.
A pile of bones beneath some brush
Where Gandolina, in a rush,
Displaced them recently until
She came to finish up her kill.

Before the thane they brought their find,
But peasants’ lives were of no mind,
And at the gates of his great hall,
The words were echoed, left to fall
On warriors watching spear to spear.
The parents left, bereft of cheer
As down the corridor engaged
The ruler’s children, merry; stayed
Within the reach of safety’s net.
The troubles of the world’s regret
Unknown or touched upon by them
Until a fading beacon, dim,
And lo, the thane let down his guard.
He set his children to the yard
And measured with his wife in length
The channeled instinct of his strength.
Without adults to watch their play,
The thane had sent his men away
For he desired his woman’s touch,
And lusty passion was his crutch.

The aching parents who had gone;
The ones who found the fleshless bone
Belonging to their child in life
Embraced the daunting, endless strife.
And as they walked the road to where
A hollow house with naught to care
The laughter of three children rose
Beyond the woodland’s fearsome throes.
And though the father turned to leave,
The mother could not, for to grieve
Had been her only saving grace
From when her child had left her space.

The man, a blacksmith still by trade,
Created weapons, one displayed
About the open air as night
Enshrouded all and swallowed light.

The woman, more than just a cook
Or silent force, began to look
Disgruntled, for the lack of aid
Received from where the truth had weighed.
Invigorated by the sound
Of children playing all around
Convicted her to go and see.
Enticed by memory’s decree,
And fearful of the coming dark
Embraced the woodland’s brooding mark.
It was not long before the sky
Erupted in night’s lullaby
And every dreaded monster’s sound
The mother heard, for all around
The land went bump, an eerie crease
About the trees broke in a breeze,
And looking back, the blacksmith, gone,
Unseen, had left her all alone,
Unknown to her the horrors crept,
Devoured him, as now he slept
Eternally, and not a piece
Of skin or blood they left; release
Condemned their bodies to abide
By Gandolina’s wicked pride.

The giggles and the laughter stopped,
And in the darkness cruelly cropped,
The lopping beast bent over three,
A ripped and shredded child’s degree
Of tattered flesh as cowered two.
The woman, sword aloft, ran through,
As vicious jaws with dripping blood
Awaited joyfully the flood
Of battle’s sweeping, savored spark
Upon her in the lonesome dark … image

To Tweet, or Not To Tweet …

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Before I begin introducing or strengthening poetry skills, I wanted to talk about something I am working on now. As an emerging author, book sales loom near the forefront of every thought. But money isn’t everything. I’m a poet, first and foremost. What I want more than anything can be summed up in one word: relationships.

Connecting to people via social media creates a rare and unique avenue to traverse. To obtain these relationships, I’ll be specifically talking about Twitter.

Making relationships means so much more than just selling a book. By chatting and interacting with those sharing like interests, you become a real person, someone approachable and genuine. When I follow someone on Twitter, my goal is to engage with them. Offer my input on ideas they have. What do we both have in common? What differences make us both unique? Build it, and they will come. That’s a major oversimplification, but it’s true. I’m up numerous followers, and my fellow Stitchers are, too. If you’re out there giggling and laughing at me, I’m ok with that. But you’d better follow me on Twitter! No, I’m joking. FOLLOW ME … Seriously, if you run across me in your feed, or randomly quoting your tweet, its an open invitation into my crazy poetical world. I want to know you. I want to know your friends. People make my poetry tick, not money. I know, we all want to be rich someday. But hey, I’ll take my payday in people profits. Until next time, happy tweeting!
Next week, a deeper look into iambic tetrameter!

Thanks to the wonderful wisdom of Jackie Chin at Stitched Smile Publications, LLC, this has become my ongoing project. This blog wouldn’t be complete without a poem to express the struggles and joys of my mission!

Sitting on Twitter with a lot on my mind
Looking at people till my eyes just go blind
Seeking and searching, hey, I’ll follow them, too
Twenty folks later, and at last I found you
Hit the “like” button, being sure I’m engaged
Some of you follow; others somewhat enraged
Building that bridge out of a toothpick and straw
Then somebody retweets; my heart is in awe …

Beowulf:The Midgard Horrors

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So long ago and far away

Within a place where shadows sway

Evolved an evil out of spite;

Unholy creatures void of light.

An anthem of a mother’s plea

For triumph o’er humanity

Comprised of hate and venom spit.

Coitus in a frothing pit

Evoked a spell of Grindylin-

The witch whose body, wrecked with sin

Perpetuated as a myth

A son named Grendel, kin and kith.

His father, Grundel, creature found

Beneath the lakes of Daneland’s ground

Aroused her loins and called her his;

Together sharing wedded bliss

Begot a child monstrosity

To later breed atrocity.

But for a moment, family ties

Exemplified the trio’s rise

To power in the realms of filth

Provoking land with creatures’ tilth.

Nomadic beings cursed in pain

Descended from the sons of Cain;

The fallen angels lusty seed

Implanted by the mortal’s need

To procreate demonic brood.

The offspring eating men for food.

 

This Grindylin had siblings, three,

A brother, beastly as could be.

Two sisters, witches just as she-

They rounded out her family.

Unlike the others in the  realm,

Unparalleled from stern to helm,

The fearsome four could be as snakes,

Behemoths there beneath the lakes.

Transforming fingers, hands or toes

Into a serpent’s hissing pose.

Indeed, their legs could become tails

Allowing them to slither; scales

Embellished every body part.

The four were envied from the start.

Amazed by all they had beheld,

The other monsters sulked and quelled

The jealous envy’s bated hook

And did so with each hungry look.

A massive beast in Ganther’s form

Displaced him from the beastly norm.

Aside from Grundel, none but he

Eclipsed the lands enormously.

His snakelike features, dragon bred,

A scaly torso; serpent head

And fangs the length of limbs of trees

Convened to bring death to its knees

For even spirits feared the wrath

If ever they stood in his path.

As well, the sisters held their own

Amid the monsters they had known

And yea, were versed in magic spell;

The sisters, spawns of darkest hell.

Amassing power from the veil

Of venom in a poisoned swell.

The first was Gandolina, vile.

The second, Gistolon, her smile

Revealed the manner of a beast.

The sisters both enjoyed to feast

Upon the flesh of mortal men.

Devouring blood and bone and skin,

Compared to other creatures, these

Converged upon the worst degrees,

Expressing nothing in their wake

Except the presence of a snake.

 

As Gandolina entered first

Into the world of demons, cursed,

Deranged, she had no sympathy,

And deep in her anatomy

Amassed a cruel and daunting heart,

The sum of evil in each part.

Beyond the other three, her reach

Extended deeper; seemed to breech

The underworld and out as well,

Commanding creatures straight from Hell.

Within the lands and far abroad,

She mocked and cursed the name of God

Embellished in the devil’s might.

A power hungry, spawned to fight.

As Gistolon and Ganther grew,

And Grindylin and Grundel, too,

All powerful each creature’s wrath,

Except for Gandolina’s path.

Much more than just of Cain’s descent,

a secret story; her lament

Enveloped and enraged her so,

And bade her strength to ebb and flow.

 

Convicted by the need to bleed,

Insatiable, her want to feed

Upon the flesh and bone of man

Propelled her forth, a seething plan.

Unto the realm of ancient kings,

Verbose and boastful, bragging things

The devil-woman had surmised.

Reducing size, she came disguised

Embarking on her own free will

Maliciously intent to kill …

 

 

 

Wonderful Welcome

Welcome to the corner of the universe where stories are told the old fashioned way … in poetry form. To kickstart my writing career, what better beginning than to release Beowulf: The Midgard Epic? (Thanks, Stitched Smile Publications, LLC!) The challenge of reworking something as ancient and beloved as the English language’s first piece of literature started out as a daunting, if not all but impossible, task. However, I set forth to craft something I hoped would have made J.R.R. Tolkien proud. Utilizing iambic tetrameter (a line of poetry consisting of four iambic feet), I decided to format the rhyme scheme rhythmically to accentuate the action and events of the story. The end result was a style unique and well suited for Beowulf.

Throughout the course of this blog, I will be delving into poetry techniques to teach the craft as I myself am learning. Don’t worry. It’s not going to feel like a college lit class. No exams or quizzes. Well, maybe … Nah. Just good old fashioned fun. Don’t fret if the term I introduced earlier seems a bit heavy. As we progress together, leading up to the November 2016 release date of Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, I’ll familiarize you in detail about counting poetic feet. And have no fear; they don’t stink. (Bad joke … sorry) Likewise, I’ll be posting a weekly flash fiction snippet of the prequel to Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, where audiences will learn about the race of creatures the world knows as Grendel and his mother, with some new and unexpected twists thrown in.

So … Sit back, read, share, spread the word, and get ready. Beowulf is coming back from the dead … (Foreshadowing maybe?)