Recently poet Steven Withrow shared a poem he’d written using a rather difficult formula devised by Gerard Manley Hopkins called a Curtal sonnet and featuring another favorite poetic devise of Hopkins, sprung rhythm. Here is the formula: abcabc dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc with the last line a tail, or half a line. Sprung rhythm requires a specific number of stressed syllables per line but leaves the number of unstressed syllables open. It has been described as a conversational form of poetry.
And here is “Pied Beauty,” one of Manley’s best known examples.
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Gerard Manley Hopkins
I love a challenge so I’ve decided to write my November Word of the Month Poetry Challenge poem as a Curtal sonnet.
And so, my friend Steven, if I fail, this will be on your head! Monday I will begin.