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Old 01-04-2002, 04:28 AM
MacArthur MacArthur is offline
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The only two anthologised Terzanelles I’m familiar with. I’m sure there are others.

Terzanelle in Thunderweather

This is the moment when shadows gather
under the elms, the cornices and eaves.
This is the center of thunderweather.

The birds are quiet among these white leaves
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily
under the elms, the cornices, and eaves--

these are our voices speaking guardedly
about the sky, of the sheets of lightning
where wind stutters, starts, then moves steadily

into our lungs, across our lips, tightening
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark
about the sky, of the sheets of lightening

that illuminate moments. In the stark
shades we inhabit, there are no words for
our throats. Our eyes are speaking in the dark

of things we cannot say, cannot ignore.
This is the moment when shadows gather,
shades we inhabit. There are no words, for
this is the center of thunderweather.

Lewis Turco

The meter above is peculiar. All lines are ten-syllables, and most scan most reasonably as Dactyllic Tetrameters, varied by removing two unstressed syllables, and also shifting an unstressed syllable to the beginning of the line (the trochaic/dactyllic equivalent of an iambic/anapestic “feminine ending”…a “feminine beginning”?).

Farrago

The housings fall so low they graze the ground
And hide our human legs. False legs hang down
Outside. Dance in a horse’s hide for a punctured god.

We killed and roasted one. And now he haunts the air,
Invisible, creates the world again, lights the bright star
And hurls the thunderbolt. His body and his blood

Hurries the harvest. Through the tall grain,
Toward nightfall, these cold tears of his come down like rain,
Spotting and darkening.— I sit in a bar

On Tenth Street writing down these lies
In the worst winter of my life. A damp snow
Falls against the pane. When everything dies

The days all end alike. The sound
Of breaking goes on faintly all around
Outside and inside. Where I go,

The housings fall so low they graze the ground
And hide our human legs. False legs hang down
Outside. Dance in a horse’s hide. Dance in the snow.

Weldon Kees

Extremely irregular, of course.
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Old 01-07-2002, 07:44 AM
A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings is offline
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Dear MacArthur,

Thanks for posting these. I must admit to being unfamiliar with the form, though I've seen a few by this title on the Met boards. (And is it a received form, as it were, or a relatively new invention, as perhaps by Turco?)

Forgive my total ignorance here--I take it that this is basically a 19-line (thus Villanelle-length) terza rima poem? How does the repetition work exactly? (It's gonna take me a minute to figure this out...)
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Old 01-07-2002, 07:49 AM
A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings is offline
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P.S. In my experience, it is a totally standard variation for dactylic meters to be catalectic (dropping unstressed syllables at the end of a line). And nothing unusual about anacrusis either (extra unstressed syllable at beginning of line). Actually, it would be more unusual to see dactyls with no substitions. There is something pleasing about stopping short, on the stress or just a trochee. I think because the end of the line, the line break, provides a little breath of air that almost equals the weight of that extra unstressed syllable or two. Straight dactyls, on the other hand, tend to get sing-songy fast.

On the other hand, I must admit, I find the Turco rather metrically awkward. "This is the center of thunder weather" has such a great, strong swing to it, and then that seems to break down...
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Old 01-07-2002, 08:02 AM
A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings is offline
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OK, I think I have the repetition sussed out now... Whew! This would be tough!
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Old 01-07-2002, 12:40 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I've just tried writing one. It's very much a first draft, created in the last hour or so, and I know I'm not supposed to be posting my own poems here, but I'm doing so only to ask whether or not this poem complies with the technical requirements, not whether it's any good. Here it is:


TERZANELLE

You were a happy child? Oh, lucky man!
I guess you're not a poet, though. No pain
to exorcize. The devil always can

be made into a poem. Was Mom insane?
Too bad. Your life is long, your art is short.
I guess you're not a poet, though. No pain

to hold like roses in your hand and court
the muse. She can't be won for any less.
Too bad. Your life is long, your art is short,

and you've been left with cloying happiness.
You should have suffered, paid the price and bribed
the muse. She can't be won for any less.

My problem is great art is circumscribed
by more constraints than misery, and though
I duly suffered, paid the price and bribed

the right officials, I've no poems to show.
You were a happy child? Oh, lucky man!
You're not the one for me to ask, though, how
to exorcize the devil. If I can.




[This message has been edited by Roger Slater (edited January 07, 2002).]
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Old 01-08-2002, 08:11 AM
Rhina P. Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat is offline
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What a marvelous poem this is by Roger Slater! Wish it were mine. It uses the terzanelle form beautifully: the repetitions feel like a going back and forth between wishes, as if the speaker couldn't settle on what he wants, the "happy life" or the "great art." Wonderful ending, with neither. When form serves like this, as a scaffold just right for what you're building, the results are so satisfying! Congratulations: now I have to try the form.
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Old 01-08-2002, 08:12 AM
Rhina P. Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat is offline
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What a marvelous poem this is by Roger Slater! Wish it were mine. It uses the terzanelle form beautifully: the repetitions feel like a going back and forth between wishes, as if the speaker couldn't settle on what he wants, the "happy life" or the "great art." Wonderful ending, with neither. When form serves like this, as a scaffold just right for what you're building, the results are so satisfying! Congratulations: now I have to try the form.
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Old 01-08-2002, 10:49 AM
Pua Sandabar Pua Sandabar is offline
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Mac? hello!

Just wanted to pop in and thank you for starting this thread and sparking folks' interest in the Terzanelle.

You'll recall that I was the silly who couldn't for the life of me figure out what-in-the-world beautiful form you'd employed in your poem New Year's Eve on the Metrical Poetry board.

Now I have another question for you.

I'm pretty clear on the form, I think: the aba/ bcb/ cdc/ ded/ efe/ fafa rhyme scheme, where the middle line of each tercet ends up as the last line of the following tercet, and where Lines 1 and 3 of the poem end up as Lines 17 and 19.

However I'm lost when it comes to understanding how on earth the "terzanelle" by Kees could possibly qualify. To my way of thinking it's analogous to writing a 13-line poem with a mysterious rhyme-scheme and calling it an Spencerian sonnet.

Or am I missing something?
(believe me; it would hardly be the first time!)

The terzanelle by Turco is lovely. Thank you for pointing me in that direction the other day. I've mentioned it, and the form, and your poem to a number of folks since.

And Roger? Wow!
I like yours better than Turco's
(Don't tell anyone, now!)
In fact I definitely think you should figure out a way to reach a larger audience with it. You know. Get more input and do the 'missionary-thing' in regards to the wonderful form

Happy week, folks!

---Pua

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Old 01-08-2002, 11:19 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Thanks, Rhina and Pua, for the generous reception you gave my terzanelle. I wrote it flipping back and forth on my computer between my word processor and the Turco poem, which I used as a template for the form. But the experience I drew upon was countless unsuccessful attempts at writing a villanelle. Writing a terzanelle provides many of the same challenges, I think, although it seemed somewhat less constricting because of the rotating repetends.

I'm surprised this form isn't at least as popular as villanelles, since it provides more scope while allowing many of the same incantatory effects to be created. Off the top of my head, the only villanelle I truly admire is Roethke's "I Wake to Sleep," though I recently came upon Rhina's "Song" ("From hair to horse to house to rose") and so I may have to expand my list. Dylan Thomas's famous one has a lot to admire, but I so object to the central idea and philosophy of the poem that I find I cannot ultimately accept the authority of the poet's voice. Give me "Fern Hill" any day. I'd rather "sing in my chains" than "rage."
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Old 01-08-2002, 11:44 AM
Pua Sandabar Pua Sandabar is offline
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Roger?

Roethke's villanelle is "The Waking."

(As you kinda know already I love that poem! For what it says of course, and of course because I see it as my license to exploit the much-maligned-melodious-"ing" in my whacky attempts at poems! I think he uses twelve or thirteen of the darned things! Ha!)

I agree with you, Roger, as to the appealing nature of the terzanelle form. I love to see repetition in a poem, but forms like the pantoum and the villanelle generally seem like a bit of overkill.

See ya!

---Pua


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