Ferdinand’s ghost

Yesterday’s dverse prompt was to write a sonnet or any other poetry form, incorporating the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays. Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a duplex sonnet. Too good a coincidence to miss, but since I didn’t warm to the duplex option, here is an ordinary sonnet with Shakespearean overtones.

Painting by John William Waterhouse.

Ferdinand’s ghost

An overarching of sky of bird’s egg blue,
A sward of grassy green and golden light,
All swallowed by the rising storm, the hue
Of kelp, that heaves, a restless sea of night.

Like scraps of feathered day, the crow flock flees,
Wings black as space among the swirling clouds,
Torn from the ragged shrouds of ghostly trees
That heave and sway like huddled fearful crowds,

Who watched the tempest wreck the ship that broke
Upon the gale’s dark teeth. Its timbers sank
Into the deeps; the bridegroom never woke,
A linceul now his diamond raiment, rank.

Full fathom five, your prince, the dead man lies,
No tears fall from those pearls, his only eyes.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

34 thoughts on “Ferdinand’s ghost”

  1. You might remember, Jane, that I love Shakespeare, and The Tempest is one of my favourite plays. I have also written poems inspired by Prospero and Miranda. Your Ferdinand’s ghost is superb. I love the ’overarching of sky of bird’s egg blue’, a beautiful start to a poem, and the ‘hue / Of kelp, that heaves, a restless sea of night’ – such deft strokes of colour – and the use of (fore)shadow in the second stanza. Wonderful too are the sounds of the wrecking ship!

      1. What I found tricky with it, wasn’t so much the form, it’s so loose you can say more or less what you want, but getting it to sound like a poem and not a lot of clumsily-linked phrases trying to be similar.

  2. This is exciting, and terrifying, and sounds are clear from your words. I also love ‘scraps of feathered day” – what an amazing phrase.

  3. What genius, Jane. Totally captivated by your every line.
    I tried to look for options when the Duplex seemed so confusing to me. I went to dVerse. Loved the prompt. Chose one and started to write. But…
    It never could sound like this. Your words sing. And then the image. Gorgeous, my dear. Can’t say it enough. Thanks for sharing. xoxo

    1. No, not genius. Nowhere near. But I have an ear for rhyme and rhythm, inherited, but not the singing voice. I enjoy making words sing, and I’m very pleased you heard the song
      I wasn’t tempted by the duplex until I read a couple of poems (Kim Russell’s and Misky’s) that sounded like poems to me. So I gave it a go in the end. The hard part is getting that clunky effect to flow into something attractive.

  4. Wonderful, as always, when you weave sonnets and myth together.
    I really like the work of Jericho Brown, and I enjoyed the repetition in the duplex sonnet form. Reminded me of doing an unrhymed pantoum.
    You are much more skilled at rhyme than I am. (K)

    1. Thanks. Classic and unadventurous, but I admit, I didn’t like the sample duplex poems at all. Then I read some Jericho Brown and really liked Langston (?) blues. The style of the duplex as is, just doesn’t appeal to me. Seems to clunk along with too much intrusive repetition. Yours avoided that by making the repetition subtle, as I’d expect.

      1. I do tend to bend the rules a bit. But I don’t find your work unadventurous at all! You do make it appear easy, though, which of course, it is not.

      2. I do find it easier to make something that sounds pleasant using reasonably strict rules. It’s much harder to get something good out of very loose arbitrary rules. Or to take the strict rules and ‘personalise’ them just enough. You do that. I find it difficult.

  5. Amazing, tangible imagery: “scraps of feathered day,” “the gale’s dark teeth,” and these glorious lines: “Wings black as space among the swirling clouds, / Torn from the ragged shrouds of ghostly trees.” I’m there, smack in the middle of the storm.💜🍃

  6. Oh, this is stunning. Really I love everything about it, including the image. It’s like a ballad sonnet.
    I feel like we had a discussion once about “full fathom five.”
    I attempted the duplex, but it doesn’t flow like this.

    1. I’m glad you like it. I pinch a lot of lines from Shakespeare 🙂
      I wasn’t going to do the duplex thing to begin with. The sample poems sounded uninteresting and clunky to me. I finally tried one, but arranged slightly.

    1. Thank you. I enjoy writing with constructive constraints. The rules about counting syllables or words, or making funny shapes with the lines seem pointless to me. On their own, that is. You still have to make your whatever number of words, syllables, diamond-shaped lines sound like a poem.

      1. I understand that. the concrete prompt today isn’t for me. I tend to push and twist the bounds of constraints like syllable count or rhyme, but do appreciate sonnets and other forms when – like here – the contraints supports the writer, rather than restrains them ~

      2. I made that comment before I’d seen today’s prompt. It’s not going to be for me either. A poem to my mind is about words, and if it relies on visual effects, doesn’t that reduce the impact of the words?

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