A new personal challenge

Hi everyone,

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.

Pied Beauty

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:
Praise him.

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.

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4 comments on “A new personal challenge

  1. I’ve always loved this poem, but I never realized how complex it is. I would love to try to write one in this style. I’d need to find the gift of time to work with an idea which right now would be difficult. I’ll keep thinking about it and see what I can do.

    • Hi Kathleen!
      Thanks for coming by today and mulling over the possibility of trying a Curtal sonnet one of these days. It’s always fun to try a new form and I look forward to tackling this one tomorrow.

  2. I remember Steven sharing with me a few weeks ago, and I was intrigued by the construction – and have made up mind to write one myself at some point. Unfortunately, I have so many other writing projects ahead of it, it might be awhile! (I still have an Italian sonnet I started back in June, thanks to you & Steven, which I need to finish!)

  3. okay. yes, it’s a lovely poem & not meaning to be all philistine-who-didn’t-wait-until-the-cocktail-hour-to-start-drinking, but what kind of cluck sits around dreaming up head-busting poetic devices? as if there aren’t enough challenges & sorrows in the world?

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