As this week wore on I was beginning to regret my promise of a sestina for today. Well a waste of worry that turned out to be, because I finished it yesterday! It decided to demand attention during my morning pages…oops, naughty sestina! During my research I found a quote suggesting that this form might bring more joy to the writer than the reader, as the poet gets a real sense of accomplishment at having made sense of such a rigid structure, but the creative value of such an apparently arbitrary form remains up for discussion.
Paul Fussell considers the sestina to be of “dubious structural expresiveness” when composed in English and, irrespective of how it is used, “would seem to be [a form] that gives more structural pleasure to the contriver than to the apprehender.”
I began by choosing my six end words (which have to be repeated in a specific pattern); dog, walk, tree, play, run, find…and then let rip! It’s certainly no masterpiece, but I had a lot of fun writing it. Maybe it’s something to do with a magic combination of right brain and left brain thinking? If you want to have a go yourself then here’s a good place to learn the form.
And I’m sure my comments section can handle it if you’d like to share what you write!
So, after that overblown intro I hope the thing itself isn’t an anti-climax:-) Enjoy! And see you next week…for a villanelle!
I don’t have a proper title yet, but it was inspired by my new dog Pepper, seen here in her favourite spot by the fire…
What a joy to have a dog,
wordless company on a walk.
Leaning up against a tree,
I smile content and watch her play,
encouraging her to jump and run
or search and sniff, what will she find?
I stroke her head, ‘What did you find?
Dear sweet, delightful, darling dog.’
She barks, I smile, and off we run,
filled with too much ‘life’ to walk -
watching her I yearn to play,
though thankfully I’ve yet to pee up a tree!
Sometimes though I talk to trees,
it soothes me deep inside I find,
and in my mind the thoughts’ll play,
a game of chase, just like a dog,
until they slow down to a walk,
and form a poem, which makes me run!
For joy, and pad and pen, I run,
inwardly thanking dear muse tree,
until, unfit, I slow and walk,
enjoying the creative spark I find
in nature, with or without my dog,
alone, but for her, so I’m free to play.
But now they’re so restricting play,
we barely let our children run -
‘Wash your hands!’ if you touch a dog,
‘It’s dangerous to climb a tree!’
If they’re not careful soon they’ll find
a nation of kids too scared to walk.
I contemplate, on my own walk,
how blessed I was with childhood play.
Freedom grows us, so I find.
But locked inside, no space to run,
life atrophies like a drought struck tree
All kids, all folk, should have a dog!
Go for a walk, speed up, now run!
A ball to play with, climb the tree!
Go find your playful inner dog!