Saturday, June 27, 2015

The power of eleven

One of my recent poetry acquisition treasures is Measure for Measure:  An Anthology of Poetic Meters, edited by Annie Finch and Alexandra Oliver (Everyman's Lbrary, 2015).  From a DC poet and friend, Paul Hopper, a few weeks ago I received comments about one of the sections of this collection  -- a section containing stanzas in hendecasyllabics, that is, in 11-syllable lines  Hopper has sent a sample quatrain of hendecasyllabics that points to "Into Melody" by Lewis Turco.  A bit of mathematical terminology is found in the opening lines of Peter Kline's "Hendecasyllabics for Robert Frost" -- and I offer these samples below.

Hopper's quatrain:

Someone should build a large dodecahedron,
with a poem in hendecasyllabics
on each pentagonal face except the base.
I'd start with this poem by Lewis Turco. 

                     from   Into Melody  by Lewis Turco

             Into melody, into sorrow's music
             There will quietly steal another lyric
             After all of the requiems have ended,

             After most of the mourners have departed.
                  . . .

from   Hendecasyllabics for Robert Frost     by Peter Kline

                                    Truth?  A pebble of quartz?
                                    --Robert Frost, "For Once, Then, Something"

Visions.  Seventeen-pick-up-truck collisions
shot in hi-def.  A timely perfect circle
rainbow bangling the starboard wing.  Each dusk brings
boozy seafog to numinize the driveway.
   . . .

I have enjoyed reading these lines aloud -- to feel the complete effect of the 11-syllable count. 
Other poets whose hendecasyllabics appear in  Measure for Measure include Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Robert Frost, Patricia Smith, and Annie Finch.

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