My darling J, shall I compare thee to
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”?
Though you are not a sonnet, it is true
I think that problem is explained away:
You both have lots of quotes you let me steal;
You both persuaded me to think up this.
But more than that my lips would love to feel
Both Will’s po-em and Jenny’s lovely kiss.
The good news is that I’ve got a date with the girl (who’s name has been changed to protect the seriously good looking).
The bad news is she made me promise never to write any poetry ever again. Now, I know it’s not that good, especially the hyphen, but I apologised for that bit, and this is as good as my poetry will ever get.
I swear, it scans without effort for me, but then I’m used to it.
I’ve never committed poetry and probably never will. But Robert W. Service said if you want to learn to write poetry grab a thesaurus and have at it.
There is a story, doubtless apocrypal about a 25 year old would be music composer who asked Mozart if he thought the wannabe was ready to write music yet. Mozart is supposed to have said, “No, you need to study some more.”
“But Master, you were composing when you were 11,” protested the man.
“Ah yes,” replied Mozart, “But I didn’t ask anybody if I should.”
In 1986, The Frantics had a sketch comedy show called Four on the Floor and sometimes the episodes would end with Dan Redican reading one of his po-ems (yes, that’s how he pronounced it). The only one I vaguely remember went like:
Mystery woman in the morning light,
Your black hair cascading across the pillow,
I wonder who you are,
And who I am,
And what happened last night after I blacked out.
It still kills me even after 16 years.
Thanks, Great Unwashed. I was thinking the problem was the ‘r.’ How does everyone else pronounce these words? I can hear an incredibly slight difference in the vowel sounds - are they supposed to be different?
I think I’ve inherited Yorkshire from mum, in some way.
Ummm…since when do “to” and “true” not rhyme? If “to” is in a stressed position, it does indeed rhyme with “true.” I just checked the dictionary to make sure I’m not going crazy, and it does agree with me. The way I read it, I do want to pronounce that “to” with full value because of the scansion (or maybe being a Chicagoan, I dunno.)
No, gosh darn it, slant rhyme is perfectly acceptable in poetry. “Wolf” and “gulf” are not true rhymes for me, nor are “foot/gut.” But they are perfectly acceptable to use these as rhyming words. Hell, look at Seamus Heaney’s works. In “Personal Helicon” he uses such rhymes as ditch/gulch, top/rope, aquarium/bottom and the such. Or look at Emily Dickinson, or Whitman, or pretty much any poet, especially in the last century and a half.
Speaking techically, I have several questions. For example, why in God’s good name would you want “po-em” instead of the normal pronunciation? What, to fit it in with the iambic pentameter? Lesson One: In poetry it is generally a good idea to vary your meter. No poet sticks rigidly to his meter, unless there is an intended effect. Rhythm is used in poetry to emphasize words, to create tensions, to vary the sound. The only poem that comes to the top of my head which is pretty rigid in its meter is Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” I’ve never analyzed this poem in class, but my feeling is Frost used the lulling iambic tetrameter to reflect the quiet, solitary feeling of the scene he’s describing. And the almost whispering, sleepy “and miles to go before I sleep/and miles to go before I sleep” seems to confirm this suspicion for me.
What the poem most lacks for me is good imagery. Generally, when I read a good poem, I’m left with several images that I can’t pry out of my head. Just to name a few off the top of my head, there’s Emerson’s “transparent eyeball,” Eliot’s “patient etherised on a table,” Frost’s “old-stone savage armed,” Dickinsons “My life stood - a loaded gun” and so on, and so forth.
This poem lacks that imagery.
What else? “Lovely kiss” - is this the best you can do? There are so many ways you can describe a kiss, and “lovely” really is pretty empty and vague. Unexpected imagery, yet imagery that is simple and direct often is the best. Try reading translations of Pablo Neruda’s poetry. for ideas. But be careful. It’s really easy to end up with cheesy imagery like “ruby kiss” or “honey kiss” or crap like that. Sometimes it may work, but I think it’s generally a good idea to stay away from Petrarchian imagery - read Shakespeare’s “My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun” (Sonnet 130, I think) to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
But let me give you this Neruda snippet from “I Crave Your Mouth”:
“Sleek laugh,” “wild grain,” “pale stones,” and that entire last line. Wow. Nothing short of genius. “I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.” How can you possibly forget that imagery?!?! It’s unusual, unexpected, direct and deeply sensual and erotic.
While I see what you’re trying to do with the first two lines - clever idea - it doesn’t read well for me. It’s a bit stilted and awkward. Also, referring to Shakespeare colloquially as “Will” sounds a bit forced to me as well.
However, my main problem is this: Is there anything in this poem that is specific to this Jenny gal? This poem can be written for anyone, with substituting whoever’s name (provided it scans) for Jenny. While this is not necessarily a fatal flaw (“Shall I compare thee” can be given to almost anyone) for a personal love poem I think you can do much better. Describe this girl. Why do you like her? What does she make you feel? Play with imagery! I’m glad to see that you do pay attention to rhythm and rhyme. These are very important considerations.
If you like poetry, don’t give up. Just read and read and read poetry and write and write and write. That’s the only way you’ll get good.