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Oh, do not say I'm not resourceful.
Beyond the jowl of my own mouth
Venture forth those unremorseful,

Deprived such thumbs, or lacking dorsal
Fins, come in! (you opt for out),
And do not say I'm not resourceful.

I kiss my earth, my lips are forceful,
(To think I lived and breathed with doubt)
Venturing forth now unremorseful.

I've learned to blur the lines so coastal,
I never cheat the rules I wrote,
Oh, do not say I'm not resourceful:

Success is mine, I've earned the boastful
Air you've branded blind, uncouth.
Venture forth, my unremorseful

Army, stop not at the horse-fall,
Dine we not in Death's bland booth.
You'll never say I'm not resourceful.
You'll venture onward, unremorseful.
I've managed to add a few things here to my canon of work, through this poem, that I've wanted to achieve for a while. I've wanted to write in the early twentieth century style of Yeats, Frost, Sandburg, and Stevens, that I think we all long to accomplish not long into a grade ten English class. Simple, economical, relatable verse, but with a slightly elevated tone that distinguishes it just above unencumbered speech, and with hidden depths of clever meaning that allow the reader to relate the poem to any number of scenarios or personal meanings. And while this piece, I think, would be hard to associate with a cornucopian level of meanings, personal or otherwise (I feel that to be a weakness, my tendency to only thinly veil my political leaning), I hope at least I've been clever enough to play with the big boys of twentieth century lit. Note: I've capitalized the first letter in the line, in the old fashion, which I normally avoid doing, as I find it suggests a stilting rhythm that is not suggested by the flow of normal speech, and creates a bland tee-tee-tah kind of musicality.

Another thing I accomplished was writing my first villanelle (I also wrote a first draft of this piece as a ghazal, pronounced "guzzle", an Indian form, which was my first of those, which I'll post later), a form I've always enjoyed, but rarely was inspired to attempt (true of villanelles and ghazals). While it's true my thoughts tend toward the archly organized, and that is reflected in the rigorously structured nature of some of my other pieces (see my most popular piece, here on devART, the DD-winning Come Home), the Villanelle seems to me unique in that the repetition, the form, and the beauty of its organization are more organic, less obsessive-compulsive. The number of lines, 19, is a prime number, for example. In my mind, the shape of the poem is almost floral, like an iris, or a lily. I can imagine the painting version of a villanelle being somewhat asymmetrical, like an old Chinese print. Actually, I'm surprised to find that it hasn't made its way east in any way Wikipedia seems concerned with.

The last thing I did that I've wanted to do for some time is rhyme mouth with wrote. Not really. But imperfect rhyme that draws attention to itself, and worked in the context of the poem. I mean, there's only so many rhymes for resourceful too. So imperfect rhyme becomes an intrinsic part of the poem, which reflects my attitude toward the "imperfect" narrator.

I'm pretty happy with this piece, though I feel he obviousness of the message makes it weak. But that's such a hard line to walk. Being a staunch environmentalist (who uses a computer, yes, yes -- but I'm eating a gluten-free, vegan cookie while I'm using it), I see other environmentalists saying and doing very alienating things to on-the-fence people who would be very helpful to our (myriad) cause(s). But the reality for a lot of educated people is the foreknowledge that present-day actions are slowly shortening the lifespan of the human race, the way cigarettes shorten the lifespan of an individual. That's why I get mad at people lashing out at smokers. I'm like, "We're all smokers, after a fashion." It's just that some of us smoke gasoline, and some of us smoke feathers, furs, and fins, and some of us smoke sunlight. We're in the habit of abusing every resource at our disposal, and that's what perhaps we secretly mean when we say, "Man, that guy sure is resourceful."

One of the things I look up to the most is the writers of the now sadly ended TV comedy 30 Rock. For seven years they were able to present the other side of the environmentalist/social progressive issue while at the same time advocating nothing but making the world a better, happier, healthier, more inclusive place. It's strange to think that some day people might look back on 30 Rock as knuckle-dragging, but for me it's been an invaluable inspiration and source of guidance.

I hope that I've achieved something in that vein. After all, we've come a long way from the kind of slavery that was seen in ancient Egypt, or the understanding of the universe that was seen in antediluvian times. And isn't that because of how adept we are, like the narrator, at taking advantage of our resources? Is it wrong to be resourceful (the real kind, or the kind in my poem)?

In closing, I wrote this as a response to Theodore Roethke's 'The Waking', a villanelle about nature and the forward motion of civilization and includes the line, "I learn by going where I have to go." Think about that.
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Adonael Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I was definitely captivated by the rhyme scheme which after reading your comments on it, you had worked so hard to tweak.

However some of the lines in the villanelle aren't entirely identical to some of their predecessors, but that in itself has an effect, that and the rules are frequently bent for the same reason so I enjoyed it more than finding it a hindrance.

Bravo. It was a compelling read.
sandzen Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013   General Artist
Well, I was reading up on the history of the villanelle and found that, like the pantoum, which has endured way crazier reformation, the 20th century has seen many of the great writers who dabbled in the form stretching the limitations of the form's specifics. What I've noticed is that the purity of the repetition is always the first thing to go.

What it depends on is the reader knowing that the form is being bent, and for a reason. So, it begs the question, if everyone bends the rules, do the rules change? And is that good?

Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments.
Adonael Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
A lot of formal writing disappeared during the C20th because writers wanted to innovate and experiment, so they either rejected formats on the premise of advancing, or believing that regressing to a more primal, raw form of writing was the way forward. People advocated a dismissal of prescriptivist writing during that time. You could argue we're still in a period of post-modern reformation, but I really couldn't say at this time, not concretely.

If everyone bends the rules, do rules cease to be? I know we talk of bend and break as if they're two different things, but are they really?? I think that's the danger. Sometimes we need form to understand something, yet others justify an attempt to reject that.

Food for thought, or my mindless rambling xD

No worries - pleasure to speak with you :)
sandzen Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2013   General Artist
Yeah, you've got Ginsberg with his mindless flowing self, you've got Trungpa with his first thought best thought, and you've got Williams with his pure image poetry. Definitely a move away from form. But as the formalists begin to reemerge, which is the case in Canada if nowhere else, I do wonder if poetry will once again become of social significance, or if all the good and saintly written formalist books will fail to make it onto the bookshelves of the poetically uninclined.

My thought, dim a hope as it may seem, which I always mention at some point in my poetry lectures, is that poetry really only survives through movements. Williams' image movement, Ginsberg's beat movement (though he denied it as a form, you may recall), the language poets of today, they all, in spite of their work, survive in our minds because of what they were a part of. Even the "poetry" part of most pop music survives due to its attachment to whatever culture of pop or rock it's assigned to. You could make a strong argument for the rise of free verse having to do with poets being frustrated by the wide proliferation and consumption of prose writing.

So, the experimentation with form, to me, says one thing: the desire to be recognized with a group while still being able to stand out, be unique, express an individual point of view. I mean, look at all the different types of sonnets. Those guys had the smarts to come up with new names for their new varieties and turned an experiment into a product.

To bend a rule says to me that the original form is recognizable through the minor change. To break the rule says to become something completely new, although the roots are still visible, like the way blues gave birth to jazz and rock'n'roll, and folk/roots gave birth to country and bluegrass which gave birth to new country and so on.

I think all we can ask of those who seek to bend or break the rules is that they can show how their decision is part of the overall fabric of their intent with the piece.

And, in a way, it's like science. A discovery means nothing in science unless it can be reproduced and repeated, tested and tried. Well, my little haiku pantoum, Come Home, may be ultimately insubstantial as a break from the traditional pantoum, but if I make a book of them, and others begin to practice the form, who's to say it isn't a legitimate evolution?
Adonael Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well I've started to see a more active re-emergence in poetry locally. People are using it to talk about issues again and spoken word poets like Shane Koyzcan have even gone viral, so I would say that like a heartbeat as it were, poetry is on the rise again because I feel it's become more accessible as literacy levels improve and as it becomes a form of activism in some respects. Though I think people still nostalgically look back on Ginsberg and Williams.

So in a way, it proves your point more. Poetry survives through movements, not just the types of poems that are written but what groups and issues they address and speak for.

Considering that free verse for me is a way of escaping a sometimes innate desire to put music to my words, I'd say music had something to do with the rise of free verse, as well as prose. But you make an excellent point.

True. I think we all want to coin a form of poem so that we can could call it own and somehow feel justified that we have a even grander sense of identification within the poetic community. But of course people shouldn't do it just on principle. Like you say, it needs to be the outcome of a decision that refelcts the poem itself. Otherwise it's a tad shallow.

Evolution would be one way to brand it. There is a definitely a system by which certain forms are filtered out based on readership and generation. In my opinion, a poem can always live on once it's written down somewhere though, even if it's just one person that stumbles on it. Yes, call me idealistic xD
sandzen Featured By Owner May 26, 2013   General Artist
That's exciting! I'd love to see how poetry begins to play a role in modern life anywhere, really. Beyond the academic or the esoteric or the musical. I'm really impressed with ol' Koyzcan for becoming so well known, even if he also has his hip-hop project to promote the other side of his work.

Certain lyricists are starting to make me realize that poetry may have a real future in music. I mean, I know everyone has their handful of bands that they deeply connect with, but I'm still waiting for someone's corpus of work to become a matter of universal academic study and reverence. Over the last hundred years, I think Tom Waits stood the best chance of becoming that, but it didn't take. And while Dylan's collected works have been ushered into the library of congress's poetry division, I think his words more often than not are too topical to have infinite appeal.

There's an expression, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." Well, I think your closing sentiment could become a twist on the classic: "A poem is never dead, only forgotten." ;)
Adonael Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sheffield is starting to become relatively central for poet movements. We get a lot of performers, both well-known and rising stars and it's really good to be a part, especially if you write yourself. In fact, I see it a lot where someone will attend and then be performing several months later. I think that's why it will continue to grow. It's accessible. Songs have that exclusion of 'if you can't play an instrument, or sing, too bad', but everyone can give poetry a try if they wanted. Not everyone is attuned to it, but they can always try.

For the same reason, I think I agree with you in regard to lyricists. Hopefully in time, there'll be more outreach.

Incidentally, that quote, which I first heard at university, was what in fact inspired the turn of events that led me there's a full circle if I'd ever seen one ;)
reflectionsinwater Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It is quite difficult to combine the two almost polar opposite ends to create a good work. But I think it's done quite beautifully in here. The imagery is subtle but succint, and it really does need several re-readings to enjoy the whole poem. :)
sandzen Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013   General Artist
You do me honour. Thanks so much.

I agree that it's hard. But I think it's something we need to strive for. One of the great script-writing teachers of all time said that good drama is when the people talking in the scene are arguing and both right from their perspective. Well, perhaps the same could be said for inner conflict.
Parsat Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013   Writer
When I first saw that "wrote" rhyme I thought to myself, "Man, this guy cannot be stopped!" Glad to see you explained it in your description. I don't think an obvious message discounts a poem when it's framed so naturally.
sandzen Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013   General Artist
As always, your comments give me strength. I guess you're right. Depth of meaning can overcome obviousness too, I hope.
FanaticalPublishing Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013
Hi, I like your work; if you might want to publish it, look me up: [link]
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