Boys and girls, it is officially getting more complicated! In this chapter I learn that there is so much more to Iambic Pentameter than meets the eye. I thought I could get by just writing a line with ten syllables, followed by another one. But no; I am to incorporate enjambment and caesura into my I.P. in order to make it more exciting. What the hell are these nasty sounding words? I remember them vaguely but I must admit I needed a (major) refresher from Stephen, which I will pass on to you with love and care. Enjambment is when you flow on from the first line to the second, rather than stopping. And Caesura is when you have a pause in the middle of a line. Sigh. My first thought is: why do the names always need to be so fancy? Why can’t they just call caesura a break or pause, and be done with it?
I’m hoping that I can get away with just putting commas randomly in the middle of my poetry lines to create the effect. But then, damn it, I’m told that not every comma even causes a caesura. How am I supposed to know the difference? Stephen begins discussing the situations in which a comma is, or is not, a caesura, but to be perfectly honest I haven’t got a clue what he’s on about, so I swiftly gloss over that part and move on.
I am then lead into a trap, like a stupid lumbering bear following a trail of food. Stephen asks me if the world would be better off if poetry was just written in lines that make sense, like this:
So threatened he,
But Satan to no threats gave heed,
But waxing more in rage replied:
I reckon that’s a pretty good way to arrange those lines, rather than worrying about I.P. So I go with yes, the world would be a better place if it was arranged like this.
But NO! Stephen shouts at me across the page in mean bold letters. Don’t be so idiotic Rachel! Well that’s not actually what it says, but it's something along those lines.
The most important thing is the metre and then after that come the sense and feeling of what is being said. Silly me. Metre is the don, the other two his bitches, always second to that all important rhythm.
In the unlikely event that you are unfamiliar with Milton, here is how the real thing looks:
So threatened he, but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied:
Metre is not a poetic prison; it’s there for our own good! And I am pleased to say I actually agree with this statement, because if the poem is just a bunch of words (that don’t rhyme haha) with no rhythm or beat then really they’re not a poem at all. And we need to know the rules in order to mess with them and break them! I find this amusing mostly because it reminds me of a certain person on my Masters course who thought they were above all rules of writing, whether it be poetry, prose, script, or in fact a simple sentence.
I have a go at marking the caesuras and the enjambment in some poems in the book. They look pretty on the page but as it turns out I don't do very well at it. I guess I just don’t really know when and when not to pause…
And now, God help me, it’s my turn to have a go. Yikes. But it’s OK, because I am going to be guided through it, step by step. Hold my hand, Stephen, hold my hand!
I write five more I.P. with no enjambment and no caesuras. Quite easy. Then I realise I have totally run on ahead without the intended and necessary help, as I have actually been given five topics to work with. And so I start again.
1. What I can see and hear outside the window:
The children scream and run about the place.
Some snow is on the ground but not too much.
2. What I’d like to eat:
I’m not too hungry because I ate lunch.
Later I’d like a pizza with a film.
3. What I last dreamt about:
A serial killer living next door.
It’s Dexter’s fault I’m having such bad dreams.
4. Uncompleted chores niggling:
Boring but I have to do the washing.
Communal washers are so annoying.
5. What I hate about my body:
Ha ha now Stephen I don’t want to say.
There’s many things but most are a secret.
Now it’s time to do it again, but better, with the inclusion of the dreaded 'e' and 'c.' Fortunately I am assured that it doesn’t have to be elegant, sensible or clever. Not exactly an advert for a potential date, but good for me right now.
1. A scream! Don’t worry it’s children playing
In break, enjoying snow while they still can.
2. I’m not hungry- noodles for lunch an hour
Ago. Later a pizza, what a joy.
3. The threat of killers, Dexter! How sad that
You can haunt my dreams, worry me at night.
4. Washing the clothes is boring! Must be done
Today in shared washers, how I hate them.
5. Stephen! You’ll have to try harder to learn
My personal dislikes, my lips are sealed.
Finished! And breathe.