This latest poetry challenge set by our Alan is as the title suggests: all about rhythm. Here it is all about prosody, how we create a pulse in our poetry. There is no hiding away in free verse this week, it’s time to meet the metre. Do I hear iambic pentameter? Well it is how we are introduced to prosody at school, by studying the sonnets of Shakespeare. The drone of da-Dum, da-Dum, da-Dum, da-Dum, da-Dum echoing around classrooms.
Being an amateur musician as well as trainee poet, there is one particular form that appealed straight away and that is the ballad. The ballad has been with us since the 13th Century and is indeed a marriage of verse and music. It can take many forms, but the most popular is as “Poetry for Dummies” succinctly defines:
“Ballads take many forms. A popular one is the four-line stanza in which the first and third lines are written in iambic tetrameter (four iambs) and the second and fourth are written in iambic trimeter (three iambs), with a rhyme scheme of ABXB (the third line, X, need not rhyme or may rhyme with A).”
Here is an example of a ballad with six-lines in each of the stanzas written by the Welsh poet Robert Minhinnick. It is composed of the observations from the poet visiting Baghdad in the late 1990’s still under the terrible regime of Saddam Hussein.
With my initial experimentation with ballad form, I found the the quatrain to be a little bit limiting. So I have drawn inspiration from this poem and also used six lines to my stanzas and have six stanzas forming my ballad. The similarities end there as Minhinnick uses an ABABAB rhyming pattern as can be observed in the first stanza with the words: pass, glass, gas.
My ballad rhymes on lines 1, 3 & 5 with lines 4 and 6 having a different rhyme. I did experiment with the rhymes on lines 2, 4 and 6 but opted to choose a different approach. As usual here is the reveal of my poem.
That is only part of the process, I have also written music to fit with the ballad, which I will perform to my group on Tuesday, They do not know this unless they read this post. I’m sure it will be an experience we will all regret when I let myself loose with my far from dulcet tones. But as the saying goes ‘In for a penny…’ wait that was last weeks topic!