I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

This blog is not, 'Here are my very best poems'. It's for work in progress, subject to revision.
Posts may be updated without notice at any time. Completed work appears in my books.

11 November 2011

Prose to Poetry

At dVerse Critique and Craft this week, we were asked to turn an already poetic piece of prose into a poem, first arranging it as lines of verse and then crafting it further. 

I happen to be re-reading Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill at the moment. Kipling’s prose is beautiful (after all he was a poet too). I took excerpts from the chapter I’ve just finished, leaving out many connecting words and passages but otherwise not changing the language. I did arrange them into verses of equal length, even at this stage — can’t help myself — and already tried to hint at a new story.

Then I rearranged the verses further and left out even more words so as to (hopefully!) bring out the music. I did make some changes at this stage, e.g. to omit details irrelevant to the poem I'm creating, such as the names of the hill and the man, but they are very tiny changes.

The title I’ve given the poem in both cases is not the chapter heading (that is ‘A Centurion of the Thirtieth‘) but a phrase from the text.

They are still Kipling’s words, not mine, so I would have to call each version a found poem.

1

Una went alone to the Far Wood.

She looked down most cautiously, 
and saw a young man 
covered with hoopy bronze armour 
all glowing among the late broom. 
But what Una admired beyond all 
was his great bronze helmet 
with a red horse-tail that flicked in the wind. 
She could hear the long hairs rasp 
on his shimmery shoulder-plates.

He leaned forward, but his eye 
was caught by the setting sun.
It had come down to the top of Cherry Clack Hill, 
and the light poured in between the tree trunks 
so that you could see 
red and gold and black 
deep into the heart of Far Wood; 
and Parnesius in his armour shone  
as though he had been afire.

‘Wait!’ he said, lifting a hand, 
and the sunlight jinked on his glass bracelet, 
‘Wait! I pray to Mithras!’
He rose and stretched his arms westward, 
with deep, splendid-sounding words.
Through the goldy-brown light 
of the beech leaves they walked.  
They found themselves 
at the little locked gates of the wood.



2

Una went alone to the Far Wood

She saw a young man
all glowing among the late broom:
great bronze helmet with a red horse-tail
that flicked in the wind. 

She could hear the long hairs rasp 
on his shimmery shoulder-plates.
He leaned forward, but his eye 
was caught by the setting sun.

The light poured between tree trunks. 
You could see red and gold and black 
deep into the heart of Far Wood. 
He in his armour shone as though afire.

‘Wait!’ he said, lifting a hand. 
The sunlight jinked on his glass bracelet. 
‘Wait! I pray to Mithras!’ He rose 
and stretched his arms westward. 

Deep, splendid-sounding words
through the goldy-brown light 
of the beech leaves
at the locked gates of the wood.

19 comments:

  1. very nice...kept scrolling back and forth to see which words you left out and much like how you arranged them...you brought a good rhythm into it by stripping so many words...really like and think it's a great exercise to even look at our own poems with new eyes for words that could be stripped away

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great poem Rosemary! You got them in again cleaner and lean. Your verse is a learning process to my mind. Never did I think to go back and do a disciplining exercise on our own postings. I've been told it is good to pay a visit on our poems and do a little re-thinking employing the same process. It can be an exercise that results in something more satisfying than the first time out.It is a discovery. Thanks for sharing!

    Hank

    ReplyDelete
  3. nice...i like how true to the text you were only embellishing it...ha...i did a complete rewrite in my own words...bet it was hard with kipling honestly as it is already very poetic language...really like what you came up with though...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like how true to the text you stayed, but it does make it difficult knowing what to change or purge. Kipling is a favorite of mine since 7th grade when I had to memorize one of his poems, "If" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If%E2%80%94).

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love finding poems. You did a great job bringing out the music. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you all for these thoughtful comments. Yes, it would be very hard to improve on Kipling's actual words! But the exercise did illuminate for me the differences between even poetic prose and poetry.

    Doing it for one's own verses is hardest of all, I think. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Not quite used to non-WordPress sites, so afraid I lost the post of my original comments. If the other posts as a duplicate, my apologies.

    Really likes how you selected two sections for the original text and combined them without any seam and then formatting of this. Then found it instructive how you chose to transform this into a nicely refined, well-formed poem with very nice use of meter (the first line and the fourth line, for example bookcasing the other two lines in that first stanza. Really enjoyed this!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for the inspiration! I absolutely loved this exercise.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm with you, Rosemary. I enjoyed this exercise. And I was really impressed with what you wrote in response.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You've made a wonderful legendary poem. K.

    ReplyDelete
  11. love your revision and the animated action in your entry.

    stay creative.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow- very impressive how you strictly adhered to the rules and came out with such a lovely piece.

    ReplyDelete
  13. So great to see Kipling! And I like what you've done with it-there is kind of a ringing in the slightly simplified phrases--more declarative. Very nice. K.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are a true student on poetry!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excellent interpretation, Rosemary! Poetic indeed. I remember this from childhood (who could forget a name like 'Puck of Pook's Hill'?). Stellar, found or not

    ReplyDelete
  16. Many thanks, Luke. Kipling is such a master! I am reading him on my Kobo (see my recent post at my SnakyPoet blog http://rosemary-nissen-wade.blogspot.com/2011/11/six-word-saturday-november-19-2011.html)
    Did you know you could download his books from Project Gutenberg? If you don't have an e-book reader, a pdf on your computer is good.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful work..I tend to write with such few words I don't know what I would strip away..

    ReplyDelete
  18. It certainly takes some thinking, Susie!

    ReplyDelete