Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TOLT Poetry Exercises 4, 5 and 6!

Sorry for the long silence on this blog. It hasn't been for lack of poetic activity on my part, just a lack of blogging. Back in October I finally finished reading The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, I'm sure in large part because I had worked through the first half of The Ode Less Traveled. It's definitely given me a greater appreciation for poetry, the same way I appreciate paintings more after having taken a few painting courses.

I've got a backlog of TOLT exercises to post, so I'm going to do 4, 5 and 6 in this entry and then try to do another big batch in the next entry to catch up to my current place in the book.

Exercise #4 had me write 16 lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter, and then I "scored" each line: 2 points for enjambment, 2 points for hendecasyllabic or "weak" line endings, and 5 points each for trochaic or phyrric substitutions (if you want to know what all these crazy words mean, you should totally get the book! I was supposed to use current newspaper headlines as my inspiration, but I didn't have one handy when I was writing, so I chose fake headlines... Here are some examples, with their "scores" after each line:

The walls of Azkaban have fallen down (5)
Eaters of Death have gone and run away (5)
Surely this means that Voldemort is back (5)

Why must the world insist on typing Qwerty? (7)
Dvorak is a better choice by far! (5)

All in all I scored 104 points for my 16 lines. The author, Stephen Fry, got 104 points for his, so I feel pretty okay about this...

The next chapter of the book dealt with different meters. The "PENTA" in "Iambic Pentameter" just means 5 sets of iambs, so this chapter had Iambic TETRAmeter (4) and Iambic TRImeter (3), etc. etc. Exercise #5 had me write two quatrains of eight-syllable iambic tetrameter, two quatrains of alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter and finally two quatrains of trochaic tetrameter. Also, I was actually allowed to RHYME this time, so I did. I'll just post the first two here, since they are my favorites. The topic was television.

A dozen years have passed since I
Escaped the clutches of TV.
In childhood, my brain did fry
So many hours were logged by me.
Each afternoon from light to dark
I sat in front of cathode rays,
Instead of playing in the park,
Or spending time creative ways!

"Reality TV?" you ask,
As if I'll list my faves.
But years it's been, since I did bask
In TV's current craze.
I used to watch sitcoms galore
and game shows by the hour.
Escapism I did adore,
But real life seems so sour.

The next section of the book dealt with "Ternary Feet" which is a foot with three sections, instead of a binary foot (like iambs, trochees, spondees, etc.) So there are Anapaests (weak weak strong), Dactyls (strong weak weak), Molossuses (strong strong strong) and Tribrachs (weak weak weak) and then Amphibrachs (weak strong weak) and Amphimacers (strong weak strong).

For exercise 6 I had to write some anapaestic hexameters about how to get to my house, and some dactylic pentameter about cows (?!) I'll post the prior, as my effort on the latter is too horrible to post, even on this silly blog! These lines are crazy long, so they got word-wrapped. I put some slashes in to notate the actual line breaks...

Of the many attractions of White River Junction, my house is the best./
The apartment is three, with a letter of C, okay now here's the rest:/
One oh four is the building, the street is called "Main." Is there anything left?/
You ask "Where do I find it?" the answer's up North, in Vermont's Eastern cleft

Ugh... pretty bad, huh? Well, the good news is that Excercise 6 ended all of the crazy accentual-syllabic verse stuff. The next section is only about accentual verse, which was much easier. I'll try to post about it soon!

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