Friday, 18 April 2014

don't rinse but rePeat




is for Pantoum


The pantoum is an Eastern form, it is originally from Malaysia, introduced to the West by Victor Hugo and William Marsden in the first half of the 19th century. 



The rules are simple but the form is hard.  Quatrains are written to the interlocked rhyme scheme of abab.  There are no limits on the number of stanzas.  The first and third lines from the previous stanza must be repeated in their entirety to form the second and fourth line of the subsequent one.  The end stanza must link back to the first one.  



Like most eastern forms, pantoum too specifies the number of syllables in a line, which is a strict 8 for each, a pretty tight allowance. It also specifies the stresses for the ending syllables. That horrendously complicated unstressed/stressed rule I have merrily ignored, I refuse to stress over the stresses. The way syllables are counted in Malay is way different from English anyway.



Here is my pantoum:



The Girl without a Pearl Earring



She left one single stud of emerald.
I found it in the folds of sheet and pillow.
She was in some hurry to leave my world.
Many other earths, where men come and go.


She took her darkened lovesharp things although
she left one single stud of emerald;
and just as lovesharp with the same rich glow.
She was in some hurry to leave my world


No answers only wine and questions mulled.
She took her darkened lovesharp things although
what I gave her was also silver pearled,
and just as lovesharp with the same rich glow.


The quiet days and years pass by on tiptoe,
no answers only wine and questions mulled;
I do not know the answers, only sorrow -
what I gave her was also silver pearled.


I still hold her earring not one shade dulled;
the quiet days and years pass by on tiptoe.
Has my silver with her been often handled?
I do not know the answers, only sorrow.


I found it in the folds of sheet and pillow;
I still hold her earring not one shade dulled.
Many other earths, where men come and go.
Has my silver with her been often handled?



Somehow this verse form reminded me of knitting patterns.  K1 P2 K5 blah blah blah repeat till end, repeat row 2 from previous pattern A, and all that.  Yeah, I know.  Insane, the way synapses spark.   I haven't knitted for a while now, must dig out the needles.  Do you knit, and if yes, did it remind you of knitting by any chance?


That's another new form I have learnt this A-Z, by the way.  The pantoum requires that every line be repeated somewhere in the poem.  Truly a hard write.  Phew!

















Posted for the A-Z Challenge.



6 comments:

  1. The pantoum sounds like an interesting yet difficult art form. But the most beautiful part is that I learned something new, and I love learning new things. Didn't know much about this poetry form, or maybe anything, so thank you for the lesson. Marvelous choice for letter P!
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites

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    1. I enjoyed learning about it too. Thanks for being here.

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  2. I love the fact that each line is repeated. Just lays that much more emphasis you know?
    And never could knit, lord knows I've tried so much lol. Used to make crotchet and macrame pouches though. Lying in dust now :(

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    1. Yup, agree. The lilt quotient bolstered nicely by the repetition. Macramé skill sounds complex and awesome! And macramé is another word with an Arabic etymology, but you probably know that already? ;p

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    2. Oh no it's quite simple let me assure you. At least better than fussing with the needles :) plain knots in different formats. Makes for a beautiful craft :)
      Haha didn't know about the Arabic bit :)

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  3. That was a beautiful poem in a form I've never heard of. I'll have to add that to my list of things to try my hand at. I knit too, though hubby laughs at me and calls me a little old lady for doing it : ) The poem does have some knitting pattern qualities...nice call : )

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