My attempts at relearning to rhyme

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My attempts at relearning to rhyme

Post by Tremayne »

Alrighty, time to expose my own limping, clunky attempts at rhyme and meter. There are several I'll post in a sequence in this thread, pretty much chronologically as I was trying to warm up to rhyme again this summer. Course, haven't kept up with it so I'm rusty again. Oh well.

These trials began as I joined a site dedicated to renaissance festivals. As such I felt I should try to do some poems in the spirit of the times, which is to say poems about love. Instead, I ended up with poems more about desire. Luckily, I only did two before giving that up. Then I got some help from someone else that I'll describe later. Meanwhile, here's the first one.

He came at the dawn of daffodils
And put to rest my winter chills
The hearth of his arms was ever warm
And there bloomed strength far more than charm

He came at the rain of open roses
Each kiss brushed like those velvet roses
Across bare skin I once kept hidden
But then let loose as I was bidden

He came when the heads of wheat were full
And harried my skirts like a rutting bull
Yet laughed when I swatted his hands away
Demanding he wait for another day

He came when the frost was thick and white
Yet desire flared and love flashed bright
It was then I tried him as my own
And let twine wild fires we had sewn

He came when snow obscured the ground
A fine excuse to stay housebound
And play soft games some would call sin
Yet we were blessed within within

He came when all there was was mud
And our moods alike gave a dulling thud
Yet we talked and touched til the dark had eased
Then crafted an intimate world that pleased

He came again again again
No matter fen or stony mountain
No matter the weather he met in me
He claimed the coming set him free

And so I feel when he is near
That we're as wide as the changing year
And should he go he'll sure return
for every season we burn we burn

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Post by Tremayne »

John Grey had a voice like a happy lark
and his chest was a sun-bronzed shield.
John Grey's shoulders rolled like a rippling stream
when he worked out in the field.

John Grey caught me looking from the dusty road
and his grin sent a shiver singing my spine.
Those sky-shine eyes, that night-shock hair
and winsome mouth might soon be mine.

I met John Grey by the willow tree
when the evening light was failing.
He smelled of dirt and the day's hard work
and I asked where he might be ailing.

But he shook his head with a devil's smirk
and said, "I'm fit to work all night
with just one kiss to refresh me."
"Oh John," I sulked, "why be so polite

when we're hid by the drape of the willow."
He grabbed me then and with one quick kiss
had me off my feet in his brawny arms
and next moment thrown in the stream with the fish.

I didn't scream and I didn't fuss.
I awaited my man in the water.
He took his time as though thinking twice
But John Grey was mine in the water.

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Post by Tremayne »

The next two are extensions of another person's poems. When I pleaded for someone to suggest subject matter other than love, one of my fellow poets began feeding me beginnings of poems to complete. He'd throw me a stanza or two and then I'd pick it up, in this case both form and subject. Again, not stellar poetry but helped spur me to practice rhyme.

The dragon returned
to find a woman standing
on the barren road
an ashen view commanding

He alighted before her
wings beating great billows
and head thrown back
to send forth a bellow

as though he were tormented
by any intruder
in his self-made waste
And so to exclude her

he opened his mouth
to vent his sick ire
while the woman raised a hand
and said "Change" to his fire

She was blasted with petals
of rose and chrysanthemum
bright zinnia and peony
ankle deep in their sum

The dragon shook his black head
and coughed bits of color
then he leered at his victim
snapped jaws fit to cull her

Again her hand raised, begging
"Peace, I would not change
the very teeth you need to eat"
So his tail with its sharp flange

whipped around to cut her down
and she said "Change" as before
and was brushed by a silken whisk
The dragon stomped and hissed rancor

yet offered no more threat
except to inhale deep and blow
meadow-scent and blossoms of fiery hue
like a tempest of unnatural snow

that knocked the woman to her knees
and covered the barren ground
as though a fairy wedding had occurred
He took to the sky in a single bound

made powerful by his stewing wrath
He would undo the magic spells
if it took a hundred withered wizards
and an icy journey through seven hells

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Post by Tremayne »

Okay, this is a long one. Again it was prompted by another's poem about a bunch of dark knights terrorizing the countryside. If this goes overboard in terms of subject matter for this site, I won't be upset should it be deleted.

Gotan stood before the funeral pyre
practicing magic dark and dire.
The fire consumed an abbess's flesh
as part of an unholy rite to transgress
the gates between earth and mighty hell
where the demon Maladon did dwell.
The profane burning bade him to arise
and grant each Black Knight the lusty prize
of a maiden's soul bound fast to his own,
her will to his whim forever sewn.
For this black art marriage his men stood round
the central courtyard of the abbey ground
and clasped in rough hands their chosen slaves
to do their bidding even past their graves.
Black Knights all, black of hearts, black of deeds,
black for the void of conscience that heeds
no cry of mother for babe or man for wife
as they cover the country in bloody strife.
This was the horde that stormed the abbey,
killing the men and no woman let free.
and now Gaton rose high an altar cup
and dripped a brew of five virgins' blood
onto flames that still rose high but bated
at a drop to a putrid smoke that surged
as they waited for Maladron to emerge.
The column rose high above the abbey walls
then snaked back down into windows and halls.
In the flesh of all crept a wicked chill
as the gate now open overspilled.
Then a change appeared in the pyre of smoke
and all strained to see what they had evoked
and were shocked to see a tall woman step down
wearing ancient dress and a ruler's frown.
In one hand she clasped a full-length spear.
"You called for a demon, you who love fear,"
spoke the grim apparition. "Maladron,
slime tongued minion hardly fit to spit on,
is dead by my own barb and now those who call
that monster made to minister brawl and maul
get Boadicea instead. Queen no more
of any earthly realm and hell therefore
has become my field to scour since cast here
to this hostile netherworld of grey frontier
for atrocities committed in rage
when my daughters were raped at a tender age
and my family placed in chains as slaves.
This is my justice: ever more to crave
the sight of daughters who have gone to heaven
while I ghost hell due to righteous sin."
Gotan sensed the threat of this angry shade
and a poor attempt to dispel was made
by passing an iron blade through her grey form
and casting potions on the pyre's smoke storm.
The Queen's harsh laugh met his feeble acts,
which did not in the least from her power detract.
"I am not undead, I am dead through and through
and will share my realm with the likes of you."
She hefted her spear to shoulder height
and a tendril of grey stroked the wicked knight.
Gotan fell dead without twitch or cry
and panic hit those standing nearby.
The panic spread thoughout the courtyard
but above it was heard the Queen's harsh words,
"Look about you in the grey that surrounds,
you who love fear and are now hellbound,
my horde is made of those who died as I
answering the need in a loved one's cry.
Look to see if any faces you know
will meet you again in my realm below,
for I am Grey Queen of Hell's first level
and though your death here will be quick and simple
we will all meet again on my desolate plane
where my horde's revenge will heap pain on pain
until your second death is complete
and in Hell's second level you do meet
agonies unknown to the flesh in life.
Cry now, you dogs, who disdained this life."
Boadicea raised her spear, point down,
and thrust it into the courtyard ground.
Smoke rose from the earth at each man's feet
and twined until a black heart did meet.
They fell to the ground, a litter of knights
at the feet of the maidens they thought to blight.
The smoke withdrew into the funeral pyre
and Boadicea's face looked much less dire
as she gazed at them and declared, "Cry now,
but don't cry long. Ceremony will allow
you to recover what you have lost--
not just chastity but every cost."
She motioned to the cup of blood. "Collect
your tears in this and redress request
from my daughters at your Virgin's altar.
Fear not a visitation bizarre.
Lay yourselves to sleep and when you awake
you'll have found in that calm they will take
away every hurt and harm, every fright
that might lead to future dread. Featherlight
they'll heal and bring you peace that will last.
With that cup of tears we are all made fast
and whenever evil threatens one of you
Boadicea will rise and battle do.
Farewell good maids." And with that the Queen
dispersed into the courtyard air serene.

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Post by aldan »

I've noticed that in each of the poems that you've posted here, it seems as though the writer of each, excepting the one about the dragon and lady mage, was lacking in words to rhyme. In my opinion, a rhyming poem should have words that rhyme, and not words that are the same at the end of each line, for I think and believe that 'like' and 'wife' do rhyme, though not really well, but 'like' and 'like' do not at all, for they draw away from the rest of the poetic story due to the "bad grammar". I put the quotes around 'bad grammar' because it's not really 'bad', per se, but instead it draws my mind out of the poem like bad grammar does in a story.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
to open it and remove all doubt."
---Mark Twain

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Post by Tremayne »

You're right, Aldan, I tend to grasp after hard-rhyme (like and spike) and was only just getting the hang of off-rhyme (like and wife), which opens up a lot more possibility. Hard rhymes can be noisier and distracting--though not among masters at form (EBB Browning is amazing in that regard). And I think any rhyme or meter challenges or strains grammar. Minimizing that strain is part of the trick. A big reason I think the Keats challenge would be good for me is that it will give me continual practice in exploring what does and doesn't work in terms of rhyme. Clearly I'm very stiff in this regard.

And that's the last I was going to toss out of my attempts at "formal" poetry. I am now going to retreat into conception mode (not to mention holiday hubbub). I've got an idea for the epic but need to flesh it out so I know I've got enough story for the required lines. So I may disappear for a bit.

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