Supine and Standing Dreams

In thumping thuds of far off drowsy drums
I hear the restless distant call of questions,
beckoning me closer to feel their boom
and beat within my body louder the taunt,
the reverberation, of needed answers
and the eternal feel of standing naked
staring silently at a sea of stars
and thinking, if gravity is a force
my thumping heart’s within it’s orbital pull.
So, too, my mind is gravitational
and bound to the electric force of Earth,
as listless wanderer of drums and beats
that hammer their sound in to my loud mind
when in the midst of sluggish eye or dream.

Homophones and a Multiplicity of Meaning

I am a big fan of how homophones can provide a multiplicity of meaning to a word in a poem. It is a poetic device that I use myself and one I think worth exploring.

Homophone

Each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling.

In my poem, It Was an Honor To know Him, I used the word Knight in one of the lines:

before the battle’s even begun,
but still the heart beats it’s thump
and a Moi stands as hope’s guard
against the coming force of knight
and crown against the thunderous thump—

When you consider slang and common meanings that increases the options available to a writer of poetry. While. there might not be much too say about it as it is a simple concept, the implications of it’s use are large. As I cannot remember good examples I will add them to this page as I located them, but as all other things use your imagination and I am sure you will see some as you are writing.

Common examples of words that are homophones

  • brake/break
  • cell/sell
  • cent/scent
  • die/dye
  • flour/flower
  • for/four
  • heal/heel
  • hear/here
  • hour/our
  • idle/idol
  • knight/night
  • knot/not.
  • poor/pour
  • right/write
  • sea/see
  • sole/soul
  • son/sun
  • steal/steel
  • tail/tale
  • weather/whether
  • The Thinker
    A poem I wrote while thinking about the lost statue, “The Poet at the Gates of Hell,” now known for just it’s center portion, The Thinker.
  • Hunters In The Dark Wood
    A piece of poetry written about the Fermi paradox and the results of finding it. This is based on the idea of the universe being filled with hostile beings.
  • Children Spinning
    In youths youngest hour comes the dawn and we whirl around at the sky, and being young and in love
  • My Sweet English
    There are so many languages to love, but only one English to prize and take into ones arms with such fondness as to spark flames of passion high as angels might fancy to fly, my dear.
  • To be
    This rusted throne of kings, this gilded smile, This divine right of blood, this gift of sight,
  • The Plunge
    Around her I was Icarus with wings alight and burnt to nubs, now glowing as embers and garnets as I slowly descend into the adjust of knowing there is no longer an us and longing to submit to the plunge.

Rhyme Within Contemporary Poetry

While poems relying heavily on patterned end rhymes have fallen out of favor in contemporary poetry I think it is still useful to understand rhymes, as they are still very often used internally where they are not on the end of the line. Remember there are no rules to poetry and everything talked about in this section is just to help in an understanding of what is possible. So, if you are writing something and feel and end rhyme is right, then by all means go ahead. Really obvious end rhymes are still used a lot in children poetry. The predictable pattern is something children enjoy, so if you are interested in writing that then please keep this in mind. Now, lets look at the types of rhyme.


Types of Rhyme

Perfect Rhyme

  • Masculine.  Rhyme in which the stress is on the final syllable of the words (rhymesublime)
  • Feminine. Rhyme between two sets of one or more unstressed syllables. (hammercarpenter)
  • Dactylic. Rhyme in which the stress is on the antepenultimate (third from last) syllable (cacophoniesAristophanes)\

General Rhyme

  • Syllabic.  A rhyme in which the last syllable of each word sounds the same but does not necessarily contain stressed vowels. (cleaversilver, or pitterpatter; the final syllable of the words bottle and fiddle is /l/, a liquid consonant
  • Imperfect.  A rhyme between a stressed and an unstressed syllable. (wingcaring)
  • Unaccented/weak. A rhyme between two sets of one or more unstressed syllables. (hammercarpenter)
  • Semirhyme.  A rhyme with an extra syllable on one word. (bendending)
  • Forced/oblique. A rhyme with an imperfect match in sound. (greenfiendonethumb)
  • Half Rhyme.  Matching final consonants. (Harrycherry)
  • Pararhyme. All consonants match. (ticktock)
  • Assonance, consonance. Often referred to as slant rhymes these two devices are also a form of rhyming within a poem.
  • Alliteration. Also known as head rhyme alliteration is the matching of initial consonants.

Identical Rhymes

Identical rhymes are considered less than perfect in English poetry; but are valued more highly in other literature such as, for example, rime riche in French poetry.

Though homophones and homonyms satisfy the first condition for rhyming—that is, that the stressed vowel sound is the same—they do not satisfy the second: that the preceding consonant be different. As stated above, in a perfect rhyme the last stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical in both words.

If the sound preceding the stressed vowel is also identical, the rhyme is sometimes considered to be inferior and not a perfect rhyme after all. An example of such a super-rhyme or “more than perfect rhyme” is the identical rhyme, in which not only the vowels but also the onsets of the rhyming syllables are identical, as in gun and begun. Punning rhymes, such as bare and bear are also identical rhymes. The rhyme may extend even farther back than the last stressed vowel. If it extends all the way to the beginning of the line, so that there are two lines that sound very similar or identical, it is called a holorhyme (“For I scream/For ice cream”).

In poetics these would be considered identity, rather than rhyme.


Eye Rhyme

An eye rhyme, also called a visual rhyme or a sight rhyme, is a rhyme in which two words are spelled similarly but pronounced differently. An example is the name of English actor Sean Bean, whose name based on its visual aspect looks like it should be pronounced “Seen Bean”, but when spoken, there is no rhyming quality; its pronunciation is “Shawn Bean”.

Many older English poems, particularly those written in Middle English, contain rhymes that were originally true or full rhymes, but as read by modern readers, they are now eye rhymes because of shifts in pronunciation, especially the Great Vowel Shift. These are called historic rhymes. Historic rhymes are used by linguists to reconstruct pronunciations of old languages, and are used particularly extensively in the reconstruction of Old Chinese, whose writing system does not allude directly to pronunciation.

Example
One example of a historic rhyme (i.e. one which was a true rhyme which is now an eye rhyme), is the following:

The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.

Player King, in William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act III, scene II


Mind Rhyme

Mind rhyme is the suggestion of a rhyme which is left unsaid and must be inferred by the listener. A rhyme may be subverted either by stopping short, or by replacing the expected word with another (which may have the same rhyme or not). Mind rhyme is a form of innuendo, where the unsaid word is taboo or completes a sentence indelicately.

  • As a point of interest, mind rhymes are not the only device like this in poetry. There are also phantom lines that only exist as an echo within the mind of the reader. Johnny Cash’s song – Born and raised in black and White. When he says that his fictional brother didn’t even try, there is an echo of the earlier line ‘to save my soul.’ I cannot think of another example at this time, but for me I feel this idea is awesome.

When replacing the word for the mind rhyme I would be more inclined to call it a subverted rhyme, as in cheerleaders chanting:

Raa Raa REE!
Kick ’em in the knee!
Raa Raa RASS!
Kick ’em in the other knee

Where the audience would tend to want to go with the rhyme instead, ass.

As this is pretty basic, although valuable information, I have merely reworked wiki information and added some commentary when needed. I am sure I will add some things but this stands as a pretty solid piece on rhymes.



  • The Thinker
    A poem I wrote while thinking about the lost statue, “The Poet at the Gates of Hell,” now known for just it’s center portion, The Thinker.
  • Hunters In The Dark Wood
    A piece of poetry written about the Fermi paradox and the results of finding it. This is based on the idea of the universe being filled with hostile beings.
  • Children Spinning
    In youths youngest hour comes the dawn and we whirl around at the sky, and being young and in love
  • My Sweet English
    There are so many languages to love, but only one English to prize and take into ones arms with such fondness as to spark flames of passion high as angels might fancy to fly, my dear.
  • To be
    This rusted throne of kings, this gilded smile, This divine right of blood, this gift of sight,

I Will Not Let My Death

I will not let my death bore my friends.
Our lives can do enough of that,
and if I am living do not ask me about reruns
or the television. I’d rather be poisoned,
consumed by rats in the ally
behind the dumpster next to a restaurant
that services men when dinner stops.

I do not want to simply fade away,
taken to a nursing home for my golden age
to wade in my misery and filth covered rags.
I will not let my death bore my friends.
I’d take the plunge, sooner than croak
while reading The Times on the toilet seat,
but at least there is humor in that one.

If I do get too old, I hope the kids
will be sensible enough to plant me
as roses in the yard to brighten up their walk
from the car or the view from the porch.
I will not let my death bore my friends,
and if I cannot be one with the roses
let’s hope I go out in a giant fiery explosion.

The Hermit in the Woods

I met a hermit where a stream diverged,
passing the hours and the minutes of day
and honing his whit he stopped to stretch, and said—
‘young man, would you give me your hand,”
            at once, I noticed the nub of his wrist
buried in a ring of flowers—pegged
stem deep into his tattered jacket’s cuff,
and in such colors as golden yellow and red
to cause a moment in me to forget.

            Opening gin, he spoke:
‘always the paradigms,
always theory before the facts,
always the constant shifting of an eye
to this, and that, and to the other thing—
paradigms, paradigms.

We sure took a climb with Albert Einstein,
            we are the children of the times!
one day the earth is flat,
one day we’re cast of clay,
one day we’re kindred of the birds,
            the next we are two snakes entwined
for millions and billions of years
until two thumbs rose from the inanimate muck.

And, have you heard the worlds a globe,
and that the plates really don’t sub-duct?
            always, always the constant shift—
paradigms, paradigms.

My boy, this hand of mine is better gone,
because, as joyous twist to your distaste
my flowered wrist has saved me twice
once from the shifting eye of public mind,
once from the collapse of worldly things,
the loss of house, my car, my silly life,
my beliefs, my paradigms.

My decent into the trees, not madness,
or the lopping of my wrist, has saved me
from cities collapsing as paradigms
and brought me to these woods
as unchanged as noble pines.’

Not wanting to be rude,
I lowered my eyes and went along,
I could not bear to tell the truth
that all the cities had already burnt
in nuclear explosions that pocked the earth.
I just smiled and went about my way,
knowing what his wrist had really saved.

© J.P.V. ∞

Spoken word version of the poem – Hermit in the Woods

On Flaming Ships in Darkness

On flaming ships in darkness,
the pitch-black of inflating blindness grows boundless on every-side,
with orbits giving over on stellar winds to oscillations vast,
            or some disturbance to the curvature,
where confident and full of hope, she spreads her golden sails.
Her crew, they split the ether as sailors before
fathomed Atlantic and the depths in search of some foreign west.

There among the emptiness adrift, no one—save the speculation:
not the pearl blue marble of land, not the safety of leaded ties,
not the ebb and flow of conversation to bind and fix the mind
from the endless horizon to the task at hand
of building a lotus bridge amid the weightless spaces between
            dissimilar planets and voyagers vying for land.

The sciences build lotus bridges, filling the void—
            between ‘n explosion of unknown proportion
            and an inflating pearlescent ocean of stars.

Backlash of Tongues – Poem

The re-inspection
of words, that were his, or his,
is often entombed
            in the backlash
            of unknowing tongues
telling stories of things
which they know nothing of.
            Will I, once gone,
            be spoken this way of?

Spoken Word Version of the Poem – Backlash of Tongues

Her Autumn – Poem

When among the trees will autumn come?
What multitude of words will I have lost
among the soft-dying of sweet summer poppies,
if time, as victor to any chance of rest,
should turn away your sweet-sad eyes from me;
your dying flowers and weeping tree leaves,
your tears of fall that pool below your feet,
or your glad singing through the canopy
all leaves me drifting and wholly changed
as the reds of your hair have left this world
and I can’t wait to see autumn again.

Spoken word version of the poem – Her Autumn

This is a recent piece of poetry about loss and the pain of loosing someone close to you. I is never easy, and always painful.

Sound and Meaning Within Poetry


If you look for an answer as to “what is poetry” you are liable to find too many answers to be easily able to answer this question. For me though, there are a few things that define the difference between poetry and prose. One of those is a heightened attention to sound and rhythm. As in my last post we are going to explore further into how sound can contribute to meaning within poetry.

We are going to look at how one person, one poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson used sound to contribute to meaning within his poem Break, Break, Break.

Break, Break, Break – By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Break, break, break,
         On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
         The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
         That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
         That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
         To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
         Will never come back to me.

The above poem is a vision of grief and longing spelled out in the sounds and words of the poet about events that transpired within his life.

To fully understand this poem we have to know some personal details. Alfred underwent the most formative thing in his early life in 1833, the loss of his dear friend Arthur Hallam. Alfred would write about Hallam stating, he was* “as near perfection as a mortal man could be.”

So, at the age of 22, Arthor Hallum would come down with a fever and die, leaving Alfred with a level of distraught pain that T.S. Eliot would later describe as “an abyss of sorrow.” This poem is a window into that pain.

Break, break, break, // To begin with this line is the conjunction of three unstressed syllables without metrical pattern, but containing an alliteration of throbbing ‘B’ sounds contrasted against the sharp broken consonant “k” sounds. At this point there only the thudding repetitive beat of something breaking.
         On thy cold gray stones, O Sea! // In this line we are let into the fact that it is water breaking on a jagged rocky coast. The guttural sounds from the previous line continues, hinting at at a desolate scene. The long vowel sounds contained inside of the lines assonance mirror his desolate spirit. The three stressed words “cold grey stones” again repeating the atmosphere of the first line.
And I would that my tongue could utter
         The thoughts that arise in me
. // these next two lines have him wishing he could vocalize his thoughts, and though we do not know what thoughts those are the images and sounds within the stanza suggest what those might be. Those of untold anguish.

O, well for the fisherman’s boy, // Now in this stanza the sound and the images start to change into a vision of childhood innocence, naivety, and joy. This exists as a contrast to the thoughts, sounds, and images within the first stanza.
         That he shouts with his sister at play! // The sound of the poetry changes to reflect this difference, with use of sibilance (strong stressed consonants), assonance, and alliteration giving the stanza more melody, musical quality than that of the lines in the first stanza and their abrupt, broken, and disjointed qualities. This musical quality also mirrors the sailor singing in his boat.
O, well for the sailor lad,
         That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on // These lines have often been suggested to be a metaphor for Author’s death and his passing into the afterlife. The sibilance continues in (S)tately (S)ship(S) and the alliteration from the first stanza in (h)aven under the (h)ill. These sounds are a series of euphonic sounds, mirroring the atmosphere of stanza 2.
         To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!
The peace and tranquility of the sounds and images within the 2nd and 3rd stanzas are not to last though, and act as a window away from the pain of his loss. The word “but” signals the return back to the broken, desolate world of hurt in the first stanza. “that vanished hand” and “voice that is still” points to the absence of his dearest friend.

Break, break, break //and so we have come full-circle with the literal break of the musical melodies and the abandonment of peaceful joyful images and a return to the harsh cruel guttural sounds of the breaking waves in the K sounds and harsh C and G sounds.
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead //Ending on him feeling no peace and only pain, and the heavy D sounds giving a sense of doom having come full circle.
         Will never come back to me.

So, in this brief four stanza poem, we have a poem that speaks to the depth of pain caused by loss of a loved one, and the jarring reality that the world is not as it was before, and the choices of sounds within the poem, the structuring of them all help progress the poem forward in the way the poet intended, even after almost 200 years.

  • You Can Do This — A Prayer
    To think a mans fate is decided not by the battle won or lost but by the heart alone is more
  • You Can Do This – Part 2
    But that was then and this is now. Today, even the gods of Rapa Nui
  • Yellowish pad
    My breath fogs the window, some promise out of science has arrived,
  • We Wish to be Kings not Free
    We wish to be a king not free of the autocrat or tyrant’s immortal knee on our airway— easier to be chained than change.
  • We
    Since first we rose from ocean’s active mud, since fins became the bending of legs, since legs hadn’t yet the strength,
  • Visions of Dust and Dirt
    It’s things grown old that hurt my bones, a spread of green can easily fold to visions of dust and dirt, and worse.
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