I’ve decided, recently, to re-digitalise the poetry I wrote while at Oxford – or, at least, some of it.
During the summer after my first year, inspired by a frenzied post-Prelims reading of Pablo Neruda’s sonnets in translation, I decided to try and start writing in the form myself. I typically prefer writing in form. All but one of the finished poems I’ve written since coming up in 2012 use pretty strict form in one way or another, and at some point over the upcoming days I think I want to try and justify writing in form during a period that seems to prefer the formless.
One of the main motives in writing in form was artistic discipline – trying to constrain my penchants for alliteration, internal rhyme, and and almost-sprung rhythm into conventional formal structures. Before becoming a serious reader of poetry, I spent my teenage years listening to rap, where rhyme-constraints are generally less strict (‘Refresh the page and restart the memory | Respark the soul and rebuild the energy | We stop the ignorance, we kill the enemy’) and there are far looser constraints on metre.
I typically prefer the Petrarchan form – more opportunities to try out one rhyme-sound, and to create interesting rhyme-linkages as a result.
When Quiet, Still, and Lifelessly in Thought…
When quiet, still, and lifelessly in thought
I let the Cherwell flow over my hands
and, seeing little in ripples or sands
wonder what I to this pantheon have brought:
Smatterings of the sullenly distraught,
lambent tangents no-one understands,
a dreary series of desolate lands,
fingers that linger and beauty contort.
Well, if sillion should fail to shine
and empty beer bottles lie like limpets
between branches of dull decaying pine
brown-drowned Durex packs the only trinkets
of sordid solace – then let me repine
alone, among dung and crying nymphets.
Jack N. Moran