Monday, 28 January 2008

Daily Challenge: Don't Think!

Okay, today's challenge is to write a poem for as long as you want, but you're not allowed to change it at all. You have to write the first thing that comes into your mind, and you just stop when you feel it reaches a natural conclusion. My attempt is below!


Go down young son to the riverside
There you will find a youthful bride
Her hair is flax and her mind is strong
And she will love you her whole life long

Go down old man to the fireside
There you will find my youthful bride
Her hair is straw and her mind is weak
And she will hate me all day every week


Kelly & Sam Pilgrim-Byrne said...

Thanks for these challenges, UP - it may just force me to write something every day or so, regardless of the quality!

I did not give you the gift of life
yet you are as vibrant as rain
sizzling off bitumen on a hot summer’s day.

I did not give you the gift of life
yet when you breathe on my cheek
Gods and angels whisper in my ear.

I tell them, I did not give her the gift of life
They respond:

No, but life gave you the gift of her.

* after Author Unknown

The Unskilled Poet said...

What a lovely poem! So heartfelt and empassioned :) I'm very pleased that my blog might help you write every day. I agree completely that it is not about quality (although your poems are great!), but about discipline and habit.

I look forward to seeing more of your words!

Kelly & Sam Pilgrim-Byrne said...

You're too kind...

Jim Murdoch said...

I scribbled this poem on a notepad on Monday but didn't have time to work on it. I saw your post and though you might appreciate a before-and-after comment.

Here is the original poem without any edits whatsoever:


Poems are words
taken to their
very limits
and then driven
over the edge.

Listen to them
squeal as they fall.

What is interesting about this is that it already has a syllabic structure (four to a line). The title was more to remind me of the source which is the story from the bible where Jesus sends a group of demons into a herd or swine who then hurl themselves over a precipice. What I would have liked to develop was the fact that words are 'possessed' by meanings, that words are penned (the pun being that pigs are kept in a pen) and that demons have wings and might have expected to be able to fly when they leaped off the cliff.

I played around with it for quite a while yesterday adding in the elements and taking them out. I could get them all in but the poem came across as contrived. I also had a poem rejected recently because, although the editor got the biblical reference, his was pretty sure most of his readers would miss it. Bearing this in mind I decided that using the well-known expression "if only pigs could fly" (of which there are a healthy number of variants) more people would get the point. I also restructured the piece so I could emphasise the falling in the last stanza (4/2/6, 4/2/6, 4/2/1/1). I tried formatting "squeal as they fall" as a column right justified, to mimic the edge of a cliff, but it looked gimmicky and not me. Anyway, this is what I settled on:

If Only Pigs Could Fly

Poems are words
pushed to
the very limit of

meaning and then
driven over the edge.

Listen to them
squeal as

The Unskilled Poet said...

Thanks, Jim! It's particularly interesting to see the process you went through to settle on the final version of the poem. Although the religious meaning doesn't really connect with me, the words still resonate. The final structure is very natural and works well.

Thanks for contributing!

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