O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming; And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in
poems & poets
Levinas asked if we have the right
To be the way I ask my sons
If they’d like to be trees
The way the word tree
Makes them a little animal
Dancing up and down
Like bears in movies
Bears I have to say
Coming at an end, the lovers Are exhausted like two swimmers. Where Did it end? There is no telling. No love is Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves' boundaries From which two can emerge exhausted, nor long goodbye Like death. Coming at an end. Rather, I would say, like a
A form derived from the abecedarian is the acrostic, which spells out names or words through the first letter of each line. The intent of the acrostic is to reveal while attempting to conceal within the poem. William Blake addresses the despairs of the plague in the poem "London," telling the reader how he listens to everyone’s pain while wandering along the Thames River. Blake uses an acrostic in the third stanza to emphasize the horrifying sounds:
How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
A recent example is Anna Rabinowitz’s Darkling. This book-length acrostic sequence investigates her family's Holocaust experiences and uses "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy for its structure.
read more acrostics
organic form: Since the development of natural history and biology in the eighteenth century, the word organic has primarily referred to things living and growing. Machines took on new significance during the Industrial Revolution, and romantic thinkers began to reject eighteenth-century mechanical philosophies of mind, differentiating between organic and inorganic systems, natural and mechanical bodies. Taking a lead from the German critic A. W. Schlegel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge distinguished between mechanic form and organic form in an essay on Shakespeare:
The form is mechanic when on any given material we impress a pre-determined form, not necessarily arising out of the properties of the material — as when to a mass of wet clay we give whatever shape we wish it to retain when hardened. The organic form on the other hand is innate, it shapes as it develops itself from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward Form.
Open Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Some of the poems are short, others long, but they all have long lines.
Long lines are oceanic. They wash over you like waves, one after another, each of them full of shells and sand and fish and surfboards, sometimes pieces of wrecks and the bodies of sailors. The long line is more conclusive and inclusive than the partial, subdivided short line. If short lines are like quick pants, long lines resemble great, deep breathes.
That’s how I present long lines to students at first, as units of breath. I tell them, “Take a deep breath, then as you exhale, make up your line. When you take a new breathe, start a new line.” sometimes the long line will resemble a long sentence; other times it will look like a short paragraph. I try to demonstrate extemporaneously: I take a dramatic deep breath, then try to exhale some words that sound like poetry: “Outside it’s raining and I suspect that the roof is leaking. Oh no! It’s falling on that boy’s head