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Tag: iambic

“Horsetail” – Richard Wilbur‏

Horsetail

It grows anywhere.
This jointed stalk, with branches
like green floating hair,

Thrives in ditches and
Trackside gravel, and even
In oil-spattered sand.

Careless of all that,
Its foot-high grace enhances
Any habitat.

Like a proud exile,
It will not boast that elsewhere
It lived in high style;

And who, after all,
Would credit what its vague head
Must in dreams recall –

How it long looked down
On the backs of dinosaurs
Shadowed by its crown?

Richard Wilbur

____________

rather than an avowal, as in the Romantic
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, this poem is
instead an observation, a disquisition on
the fly, instead of an intensely personal
revelation, it’s a meditation on time

note that everything in this poem rhymes,
something not immediately evident for its
clever mixture throughout of iambic and
trochaic meter, to blur the rhythms as well
as the matching sonorities of traditional
poetry

iambic, da dah, da dah, da dah,
“To be or not to be”

trochaic, dah da, dah da, dah da,
“Mary had a little lamb”

compounded with the intellectual immediacy
of the subject it’s not unusual one would
miss the rustle of particular trees, however
sweet, for the majesty of the primordial forest

but it’s well worth revisiting the bristling
babble of the branches in conversation
with any stray cavorting breeze

Richard

psst: anapaestic, da da dah, da da dah,
“Lullaby, and goodnight”

dactylic, dah da da, dah da da,
out of the frying pan, into the fire

XXXlll. Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXXlll. Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear

Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear
The name I used to run at, when a child,
From innocent play, and leave the cow-slips piled,
To glance up in some face that proved me dear
With the look of its eyes. I miss the clear
Fond voices which, being drawn and reconciled
Into the music of Heaven’s undefiled,
Call me no longer. Silence on the bier,
While I call God – call God! – So let thy mouth
Be heir to those who are now exanimate.
Gather the north flowers to complete the south,
And catch the early love up in the late.
Yes, call me by that name, – and I, in truth,
With the same heart, will answer and not wait.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

________________________

Elizabeth Barrett Browning introduces
immediacy here in the very first beat by
making her metre trochaic – dum, da –
instead of iambic – da, dum – we’re in
the midst of already the conversation,
where Browning, Robert, had called
Elizabeth by a nickname, probably,
I would think, his “Portuguese”, the
“Portuguese” of these very poems,
and she peremptorily corners us, him

then, despite her insecurities, she
commands, as I’d earlier, maybe
somewhat sardonically, implied,
but we all have, don’t we, our
idiosyncratic peculiarities

“call me by my pet-name”, she insists,
like those who loved me used to do
when I was young, and that I ran to
when they called so that I could
beside them “glance” at the reflection
in their eyes of my very indeterminate
for me validity

but whose “voices” now, sadly, have
become “the music of” a perfect
“Heaven”, which is to say, where those
who have been there retired, “drawn
and reconciled”,
are “undefiled”

only “Silence on the bier”, no reply, no
sound at all, from even the divinity she
beckons

“So let thy mouth / Be heir”, she charges,
as she is wont to do when she isn’t fretting,
be their counterpart, your “north” their
“south” flowers, their “early” your “late[r]
love

“and I, in truth, / With the same heart”, as
when I left so hurriedly my “cow-slips”
“will answer and not wait” to fly at your
call

and all in only fifteen lines, to my,
hopefully helpful, several, with each
of hers sporting rich and resonant
even rhyme, which probably went
nevertheless mostly at first glance
unnoticed, to my fewer maybe, and
more insidiously covert ones

wherein lies, of course, the artistry,
the buttons don’t intrude on the
fabric, the garment’s pristine
symmetry, the poem’s potent
flowering

always

Richard