Our last task was to write a poem with the focus on using rhythm, and preferably the interplay of contrasting rhythms.
The poem below was intended for a Christmas poem competition, but I missed last week’s entry deadline, so I don’t mind putting it up here. The starting point is a piece that I wrote a few years ago, but I ended up stretching most of the lines past the point where they can be strung comfortably along a recognisable metrical pattern. The long lines are typically around sixteen syllables, and the underlying iambic pattern would suggest eight stressed syllables, but I think the variation in degrees of stress becomes more accentuated the longer the line, and the stresses with truly siginficant weight probably varies from five to seven, but there are clearly legitimate possible variations of intonation both within and beyond that tendency, while the use of internal rhyme at various points disrupts further any attempt to establish a neat regularity in the longer lines.
You can decide for yourself what motivation I may have had for creating that rhythmic tension, perhaps informed by the other main rhythmic feature of this poem: the counterpoint between those long lines, and the short lines that interpose – each a half-line
stolen borrowed from ‘Away in a Manger’.
The shops have been full of Christmas stuff since they took the Halloween decorations down, so I hope I can be forgiven for chucking in a Christmas poem even before Advent has begun. It seems somehow fitting given the slippage and disruption of the traditional seasonal calendar.