So in the middle of one of the warmest summers we’ve had for many a year, why have my thoughts turned to winter?
I suspect it was something to do with the British obsession with the weather – we have perfect weather – perfect for kvetching about! Or maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about challenge and discipline?
I’ve always found discipline a bit of a challenge … my husband, David, says I have a butterfly personality – flitting between a hundred diverse things; wanting to start everything now; eager to experience something new – which doesn’t mean that I never get anything finished on time, but it can lead to moments of stress!
To learn, you must love discipline;
it is stupid to hate correction. Proverbs 12:1
However, I suspect that life will soon need to become more disciplined and it reminded me of a challenge that my son-in-law Lewis came up with a while ago. He came round with a copy of a writing magazine in which there was a poetry competition and suggested I might like to enter it. I’ll give it a go I thought, and then I realised it had to be written in a specific disciplined poetic form – terza rima.
I suspect we’ve all had a go at composing simple ‘haiku’ poems at school with their three lines of 7-5-7 syllables but this was something else altogether – something much more methodical [see below for full explanation]
Although it certainly took longer and endured many corrections and redrafts I finally came up with the following – I hope you feel the discipline paid off.
His hoary fingers, misery spreads,
In a landscape dull and dreary;
Cruelly blackening autumnal beds.
Blustering breaths and sighs, so weary,
Tired of disturbing discarded mounds,
Once gold and russet, now bleak and eerie.
A veil of tears; in sadness pounds
His fists on the swollen earth; till snap,
The iron vane swings; its warning sounds…
Silence! Then he shakes his frozen cap,
And drop by drop his children fall,
Whirling and tumbling, a crystalline trap.
World undinted; in purity to enthral,
A garden of Eden in perfection appears;
Yet devilish Winter in a slow, sly crawl
Strikes back; a hobnail boot smears,
And blurs the ground as men stride out,
And women cry for the world and its cares.
Yet, softly, softly, dismissing all doubt;
A hope springs up in verdant robe,
Which cloaks the earth in mien devout.
The rising sun beams on the globe
Dispelling the gloom of Winter’s despair
Disturbing minds, each heart to probe
Life in abundance for all to share
For the literati among you here is the official definition of the poetic form terza rima:
A terza rima is an Italian form of poetry first used by Dante Alighieri [he of the Divine Comedy and inferno fame]. It consists of stanzas of three lines (or tercets) usually in iambic pentameter, using chain rhyme in the pattern A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D. There is no limit to the number of lines, but poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet.