Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poetry Challenge #11: Lyric Poem

OK, kids, as always, be sure to check out the terrific Tanka submitted over the past week here.

This week, I'm selfishly bending my self-imposed rules for the poetry challenge by picking a type of poem, not a form, as I have done for the first ten challenges. That means that we have a bit more leeway in what we write; there will be less rules and restrictions to follow. Interpret that as you will.

A lyric poem is generally defined as a short poem (in poetry "short" just means less than a few pages long!) in which a speaker expresses thought and feeling. The name "lyric" comes from the early tradition of setting these works to music. Elegies, odes, sonnets, and dramatic monologues all fall under the category of lyric poetry, so if you want to try any of these forms (again?), you certainly may.

A wonderful lyric poet was Joseph Brodsky; if you are unfamiliar with him I recommend you click his name to call up his biography--he was a really interesting man. Anyway, my example for lyric poetry will be from his extensive collection.

Odysseus to Telemachus


by Joseph Brodsky

My dear Telemachus,

                   The Trojan War 

is over now; I don't recall who won it. 

The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave

so many dead so far from their own homeland. 

But still, my homeward way has proved too long. 

While we were wasting time there, old Poseidon, 

it almost seems, stretched and extended space.

I don't know where I am or what this place 

can be. It would appear some filthy island, 

with bushes, buildings, and great grunting pigs. 

A garden choked with weeds; some queen or other. 

Grass and huge stones . . . Telemachus, my son! 

To a wanderer the faces of all islands 

resemble one another. And the mind 

trips, numbering waves; eyes, sore from sea horizons, 

run; and the flesh of water stuffs the ears. 

I can't remember how the war came out; 

even how old you are--I can't remember.

Grow up, then, my Telemachus, grow strong. 

Only the gods know if we'll see each other 

again. You've long since ceased to be that babe 

before whom I reined in the plowing bullocks. 

Had it not been for Palamedes' trick 

we two would still be living in one household. 

But maybe he was right; away from me 

you are quite safe from all Oedipal passions, 

and your dreams, my Telemachus, are blameless.

The reason that selecting this category of poetry is "selfish" is because I have been wanting to write what I'll be using as my example of a lyric poem since last Saturday's 10-mile run. Because I'll be co-opting the rhythm of Miles Davis' "So What," I feel lyric poetry comes the closest to the form I will be experimenting with here. 


to “So What” by Miles Davis

A hundred runners passing me.

So what.

This isn’t really competition.

Kick butt.

I’m only running to be fit.

Who cares?

So why be annoyed?

Who stares?

I never aimed to beat the pack.


No way in hell that I could catch them.

Eyes dry.

So don’t feel sorry for yourself.

Chin up.

Just keep on running.

Ten, hut!

Despite whatever they may think,

Who’s that?

I’m not too bad for a beginner.

Back pat.

Now I just need to clear my mind,

Shut up!

and concentrate on what I’m doing.

Heads up.

Now that my pity party’s done,

Go home.

I can get going on to business.


I lift my eyes to the skyline,

Nice view.

and remember this:


So, let your imaginations and feelings run wild. If you are inspired by a particular instrumental song, feel free to co-opt its rhythms or tonal colors to create your lyric poem. Otherwise, just look inside yourself. I am a firm believer that anyone can be a poet. Good poetry just takes honesty and a willingness to think and write outside the box. C'mon, show me what you've got.


kristin said...

ooh ooh i can't wait to get home throw on some phillip glass or eluvium and get something going for you! this is a really rad idea kristine - the self imposed challenges. exactly what i'm looking for.

Minerva said...

Excellent! We'll be glad to have you join our little party, Kristin!

Alicia said...

I had to tell you that I just read the poem while listening to the song (took me a while to load the song) and I LOVE the way you did that! It's awesome!

Minerva said...

Alicia--Thanks, I'm glad you like it!! I had to re-listen to the beginning like 5 or 6 times to get all the rhythms, but I thought it came out pretty good in the end. :)

paige said...

Love Letters

To the child that cannot be
you came, you lived, you grew
warm soft skin & apple breath
sweet small lump of life
gone too fast - gone too fast
to shreiking laughter and childhood games

To the child that cannot be
you came, you lived, you left
two pictures in your baby book
sweet small lump of life
gone too fast - gone too fast
to memory - to the child that cannot be.

To the child that cannot be
you never came - you never came you never lived you'll never be.
o how i ache to hope for you.
sweet small lump of life
gone too fast - gone too fast to 'moving on'.

My heritage, my love, my child.
for you my life, my sacrifice
so worthwhile.
To the child that cannot be, take my heart it's yours

Minerva said...

Paige--A beautiful tribute to your little one. 1,000 points to you. HUGS.

Alicia said...

Whisper to me beneath the moon
As we lay beneath the sky,
Hoping you will tell her soon
Of the true love in your life.
I want this night to last forever,
To keep you close to me.
Tell me you won't leave me, ever,
Stay here happily.
But when the sun returns,
It ruins this perfect bliss.
I know that it is her turn,
But please let me savour one last kiss.

It's a little clunky, in my opinion, but I think it has potential to get better. I thought of this while listening to Norah Jones "Come Away With Me". It is so inspiring to me. The melody and lyrics are so sweet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLwZxcObRT0&feature=fvw

Alicia said...

The second line should be:
As we lay under a dark sky.

Minerva said...

Alicia--lovely! I actually like your "typo" line at least as much as the correction! I love Norah Jones too. Keep fiddling with it until you're happy with it, you'll get it where you want it soon, I know. 1,000 points to you.