Saturday, 13 February 2010

A New Verse Form

As a little follow up to Monday's post on which were the most quoted lines of poetry on the internet, I have invented a new* verse form. The rules ought to be pretty self-explanatory. You are invited to compose your own, however short, and place it in the comments section. There will be an imaginary prize for the best one and bonus points if they rhyme or bring laughter to my teary cheeks. Here are two examples:

Index of First Lines

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,
She walks in beauty like the night
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
(Just the place for a Snark, the Bellman said).

I think that I shall never see
White founts falling in the courts of the sun
And you, my spent heart’s treasure.

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

I think that I shall never see
Lars Porsena of Clusium
(He did not wear his scarlet cloak).

I think that I shall never see
Everyone suddenly burst out singing
Beneath the thunders of the upper deep
And many voice marshalled in one hymn:
“Hail muse! et cetera.”

Index of Last Lines

I never writ nor no man ever loved:
That is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
I embrace the purpose of God and the doom assigned
And that has made all the difference.

The Lady of Shalott
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on
Watched by every human love.

The Lady of Shalott
Will never come back to me,
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

You might as well live
Where ignorant armies clash by night
And the yellow god forever gazes down.

*Update: It appears that this verse form is not entirely new, although I have been beaten by a mere 1,700 years, which is nothing in geological time. It is called a cento.


  1. This is actually a thing already in existence. It's called a cento, from the Latin for 'patchwork cloak,' and you can read all about it at a wikipedia link I am too lazy to type in and apparently not allowed to paste into this comment box. If you want to limit it to first lines or last lines, that's adding another level of difficulty, but the formal name is still the same.

  2. Being too think for Iambic Pentameter, I submit three trifles:

    On the beach at night,
    Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
    nobody loved this.

    we estimate that
    The night has a thousand eyes
    Here are two pupils

    Silent, silent night,
    Take, oh take those lips away,
    Oh, black Persian cat!

    (Authors: Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, ee cummings. Billy Collins, Francis William Bourdillon, Sylvia Plath.
    As extra credit the final poem is composed entirely by authors named William: William Blake, William Shakespeare, William Carlos Williams.

    "Billy" is William too, and William is FWB's middle name. Did Shakespeare set the naming standard for poets?)

  3. Those are beautiful and the second one made me laugh aloud.

    According to Wikipedia "The name [William] was so popular, in fact, that history records an event in Normandy in 1171 where Henry the Young King held court for Christmas which included 110 knights named "William" - the Williams had gathered in a room and refused to allow any one to eat with them, unless they were named William."

    I don't know if that's relevant, but I like the story.
    An imaginary prize is winging your way.