This week's topic: Time.
This week's topic is a bit more abstract than usual, but should be applicable to a variety of poetry as well. Have this nagging feeling that time is running out? Feel optimistic/pessimistic about your future? Feel melancholic about the pasing of time? Or just have an unhealthy obsession with the period between 4:30 and 5:25PM? Write a poem about it and you're all set!
This week's optional requirement: Write a ballad.
As most of you might remember, Bucky hosted a ballad contest in December. For this week, I thought it might be nice to return to everyone's favourite musical form of poetry, and elaborate on its different types. However, generally speaking, one of the positive aspects of ballad poetry is that there aren't really any strict definitions or rules, so you have a relative freedom of improvisation. One of the negative aspects is that I therefore can't give you an exhaustive list of how to write them.
Generally speaking though, in terms of form, ballads are mostly made up of quatrains (four-line stanzas). Usually, each line has eight or nine syllables, but this tends to vary between authors, and usually, these are arranged in a iambic (da-DUM) metre.
Almost all forms of ballads, however, are rhymed. Cross-rhymed, to be precise. In terms of quatrains, this means that at least the second and fourth lines rhyme. In many cases, only the second and fourth lines (abcb scheme) are rhymed, though in many other poems, both the first and third; and second and fourth lines (abab scheme) rhyme. An example of an iambic, abcb rhyming quatrain might be:
I saw a wisened wanderer, (a)
With neat and measured stride, (b)
Put down his pack of ponderance (c)
And stroll into the night. (b)
Now, in the above example, the length of the lines alternates between eight and six syllables. This is commonly done (see, for example, Coleridge's work) to give a bit of a more interesting rhythm to your poem.
As for the length of your poem in general, there are no rules. Make it as long or as concise as you want to. Just make sure that you keep your readers entertained.
And that's all with regards to common ballad-practices that I can tell you for the purpose of this exercise. There are many different types of ballads, with various executions, ranging from plain old poetry, to song and dance (I will definitely give an arbitrary amount of bonus points to people who perform a musical number or interpretative dance session for this exercise), but the above guidelines are some of the more commonly seen features of the ballad-form.
So, in summary:
Ballad: Quatrains of cross-rhymed (alternating) iambic tetrameters and/or trimeters.
Have fun writing!
@Bannerlord @Crescentstar @Orange @Mizal @Lancelot @Mayana @Betaband @Kwism1127 @Leoscales7 @bbshark @Drew8521 @BerkaZerka
Here's the updated point list, please correct me if anything's wrong. If you want feedback for last week's (weeks') exercises, please let me know and I'll try to come back to you.
As always, giving feedback is encouraged, but please don't reply to the entries directly if they're not edit-locked, so people can still change them if they want to.
A large but weary vagabond
Sat drinking in the bar
Watching with wary eye
His face spoiled by a scar
‘Only I remain!’ he shouted.
The seat over startled
‘Misfortune came upon me thus,
Per night, much like this.’
‘Quiet man, I enjoy my drink,’
said the other, slightly irked
‘We numbered around four hundred,’
he continued undeterred.
‘A journey perilous, but reward great
We wandered for many days
Our stupid, fateful quest
To never meet death’s gaze
Further into desert each day we travelled
Morning and evening, dark and light,
Then we reached it.’
His face turned ashy white
‘Well out with it man,’
said the encaptured fellow.
A tense silence filled the room,
Then he let out a bellow.
‘At the fountain Satan did wait
Smiling with a deal
The souls of all four hundred
One would have to kill
But in return the ultimate reward
But the most evil curse
A life that goes on forever
A life not ending in a hearse
A young and foolish man was I
I accepted the deal of Satan
It was done, the men were dead
And I was left alone waiting
The eyes of the lifeless wanderers
Stared deep into my soul
Empty but full of accusation
The weight of their lives that I must fulfill
Never could I return home
And face the families of those lost
All I can do is tell my tale
And not let anyone follow in my footsteps at any cost.'
Edit lock. Feedback is appreciated.
I'm waiting for a dark, silent night,
Where the stars are frozen lanterns,
When the minutes seem to slow down,
Where I can see the universe.
I'm waiting for the tides to reap
The craggy, sandy shoreline rocks.
The wind is rushing through the caves,
Playing mysterious, midnight songs.
I'm waiting for the moon to rise,
To spell the world with its silver frost,
For the siren's to play their lament,
In which the smooth waves may toss.
I'm waiting on this sunset beach,
Watching golden flames meet reflections,
Warm saltwater brush tiny, sand shards,
Yearning the Night's affections.
(Feedback appreciated. C:)
A past so frightful,
Turns cold the blood of the victims.
A time long gone,
So hateful and so harmful.
With a knife in hand,
And a twist in his wrist,
He lures out the cries and the pleas,
They were enough to satisfy his demands.
He remembers it well,
He remembers it vividly.
He remembers it confined,
He remembers it free and unwell.
The blood would trickle upon the floor,
But it never drained.
It stained the cold surface,
A bottle of bleach I would pour.
The incessant screams of terror rang out,
The sound-proof walls making it futile.
Refusing to provide the necessary information,
Would lead to more pain and more shouts.
He tried to force the memories out from his mind,
But often failed.
His dreams were haunted by many faces,
Bruised, beaten faces that only served to remind.
Why? He often asked himself,
Why do they torture me so?
It was always because of the job, it was always because of the money,
So why do they appear in my nightmares and disrupt myself?
The organization he was with,
All but disappeared after he was arrested,
He didn’t try to find them; he rather did the opposite,
And fled the country, changed his name, stayed low, and tried his best to remain a myth.
He never knew what the organization did,
He never knew why they needed the information.
He was kept in the dark,
Only allowed a single piece of the puzzle; the information, and was forbid.
And there in the shanty house,
And there in the outskirts of a fishing town,
He lay on his floor, thinking of all the people he tortured,
And of the organization who may be tracking him down like a cat and like a mouse.
He got up and opened the wooden door,
And took in the salty air.
He looked out to the great beyond and the prosperity of the town below him,
And thought of how he can live with his past and constant stress that shook him to his core.
Tick tick tick tick the clocks count down
The hours, minutes, seconds until
All the people of this here town
Acquaint with Death's ultimate chill
I've spent the last few thousand years
Watching the clocks tick by the time
One by one they may disappear
When they stop, with a final chime
I build a clock for each new soul
And set a time for it to cease
It ticks away for a life's whole
Chimes ring when the soul is at peace
Death comes when he hears a 'ding dong'
Iron scythe gripped by bony hands
The clock chimes out a dying song
Dragged away to extinction lands
I promised Death this long ago
To never fix a broken clock
What can hurt he who does not know?
I keep my secrets under lock
For every night when Death is gone
I sneak to a certain timepiece
Set back the ticks another dawn
I will never let that clock cease
It holds my mortal ending time
Set to thousands of years ago
I will make sure it never chimes
I trick Death, and he'll never know
So as you guys might have noticed, I have not put up a prompt for this week. I intended to, but have been quite busy lately, and didn't find the time. I hope you therefore won't mind me not putting up a thread this week. I'll (probably) put on up this Sunday, as usual. My apologies for the late notice.
It's okay! ^-^ I eagerly await the next challenge. :D