Thursday, 31 January 2019


This December I received a grant from the Edmonton Arts Council to complete a book of poetry on my province's natural regions. As a result, these days I am knee deep into poetry.

My husband for Christmas bought me Stephen Fry's poetry-writing book, The Ode Less Travelled. I've decided to do some of his exercises.

First is his third exercise, which requires writing iambic pentameter with and without caesuras (pauses) and enjambment (unpunctuated line endings).

1. Five pairs of iambic pentameter without caesura or enjambment:

Outside the Window
I see the snow and then again more snow;
upon the streets and lawns the snow piles up.

What I'd Like to Eat
I wish to eat all day and night a cake,
with frosting chocolate and thick on knife.

A Recent Dream
I dreamt I lost my schedule for class,
and wandered round the school till half-past five.

Pesky Tasks Overdue
In Gabriel's room I'm cutting out old rot,
since summer's inconvenient flood caused mold.

My Body
My gut annoys my means of dress and stance;
my pants droop down but I must still stand tall.

2. The same five topics and meanings but with enjambment in each pair and at least two caesuras

Outside the Window
I see the snow; it's there again. It piles
upon the streets and lawns up here and there.

What I'd Like to Eat
I wish to eat a cake, made by a chef
well-versed in frosting making, rich and thick.

A Recent Dream
I dreamt I lost my timetable. I lost
my locker too, and missed my hardest class.

Pesky Tasks Overdue
The rain had filled the barrel. Water seeped
inside the house, and baseboards warped with wet.

Next is his Exercise 5, which asks for two quatrains of iambic tetrameter, two quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter and two quatrains of trochaic tetrameter. I chose the subject FORESTS.

The trees they crowd around me here
in spite of wind, of cold, of snow.
They stand above with cones aloft
the pine, the larch, the fir, the spruce.

A mound of ice sits by logs long dead
uprooted years ago I'd guess
I sit upon its hardened top
to rest my wearied legs and soul.

I can't believe the hardiness
of life in this cold place
I hardly know what nature thinks
to start new life up here.

If only I could see its mind
discern its thoughts and heart.
but nature's not a person, girl,
just spirit hard and daft.

Gather strength and gird my loins now
Stand and shake my hair of snowflakes
Take a breath and lift a snowshoe
Step ahead and touch the icepack.

Trod upon the drifts and ridges,
Raise my eyes upon horizon
March ahead and bravely sojourn
Take your heart and hold it open.

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