This was last week’s poetry form chosen by Paul Brookes. You can read the contributions here.
I almost didn’t attempt this one, a complicated Irish form with rules I didn’t understand at first reading. I let it simmer overnight and woke with a first line and an idea of the first stanza. When I wrote it down, it turned out not to work, but I thought I could see how to fix it.
First, I wrote down what I knew about the form in simple terms: quatrains, lines of six syllables, rhyme scheme abcb, end rhymes bi-syllable words, consonance in lots of places, alliteration in every line, and it ends with a dunedh (opening line or word ends the poem).
Constructing the poem was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I started at the end, picked a two-syllable word that could both open and close the poem, then wrote a six-syllable first line. Second line needed a two-syllable end word that would rhyme with the fourth line, so I chose two words, filled in the second line with alliteration, wrote the fourth line with its rhyme, consonance and alliteration, and finally filled in the third line.
The third stanza had to end on the opening word, so that was the end-rhyme sorted out. Alliteration and consonance are easy to play with so it ended up not being the monster I had anticipated. I derived a lot of satisfaction from working at the puzzle, and I’m glad I took the time.
When will winter
Water, wild wind again,
gun-grey this cold dawning,
such a damp, dull refrain,
no frost, mournful morning.
Pure snow should be falling,
thick the fast flakes flying,
cover with cold fingers,
fields of green grass dying.
Fill, ice ferns, the meadow,
summer’s snow-white daughter,
teeming spring’s sharp shadow,
whose breath stills well water.
Flowing fast the stream now,
drowning dead leaves, swelling
buds. Bird tongues sip sweetly,
their spring stories telling.
Beneath brown leaves billowed,
piled pillows, so lightly
tossed, brisk wind-turned, burgeon
spring spears, budded tightly.
In the hedge, blackbirds furze-
fuss, fierce wind still blowing,
but briar-bound hare sits,
sniffing spring air flowing.