Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Triple-Effort Tedious Sestina

This is my 100th post on blogspot!

Last night Bliss came to visit, and brought a book with her called The Making of a Poem. I'm sure it is normally used as a college textbook that students would spend much too much money on and barely read. But for us, it was an exciting treasure found in a musty used book store. We pilfered through it together, especially interested in finding the most complicated patterns in poetry.

The one we liked best is called a Sestina. It has thirty-nine lines, divided into six stanzas of six lines each, plus one ending stanza of three lines. There is no rhyme or rhythm pattern. But here's the catch: you have to use the six ending words from the first stanza as the last words in the following five stanzas in sequentially inversed orders, plus use them all again in the last stanza.

That is insanely confusing, I know, but this is how it looks: the first stanza has six lines, so think of the last word of each line having a number, 1-6. The second stanza uses those same last words for each line, only you invert them to lay out in this order: 6, 1, 5, 2, 4, 3. The third stanza inverts them again: 3, 6, 4, 1, 2, 5. And so on... Ok, so maybe it is still complicated, but Bliss and I thought it looked like fun so we decided to give it a try!

First, we decided our topic would be "having to do a tedious task," and then we picked our ending words. We wrote the first stanza together, Bliss wrote the second and third, Kevan wrote the fourth, I wrote the fifth and sixth, and we all wrote the final three lines together. I like how it turned out, because it matches up and flows well and yet retains each of our styles individually. Since it took three of us to accomplish this, we called it "The Triple-Effort Tedious Sestina":

This is what you want me to do?
Will this be a waste of my time?
How could I possibly find joy
In such a tedious chore?
Now I ask you, do you have bliss,
Inflicting me with such unnecessary hardship?

To secure a lasting friendship,
Not to ask of one so new, what to do?
Forge ahead with unity and bliss,
Find a balance of work and free time,
Then a person ought not dread a chore
Which gives sunny days to enjoy.

And rewards arrive layered with joy,
Owing nothing to safety in number or kinship.
But for me I grow weary of this chore
Because of the many things I like to do,
Only there is so little, so little time...
And I spend much of it seeking a touch of bliss.

If only I could find sheer bliss
In trimming these flowers you so enjoy!
Then perhaps you would give me the time
Of day aboard life's tiny, overpriced cruise ship,
For I think we are long past due
To discover your unavoidable chore.

Just to mindlessly work, for me, is a chore...
To use my mind - to inspire and create - is bliss!
Yet every morning God soaks the grass with dew
And in this simple, daily task he finds joy.
In watering the lawn, there is fellowship
With my Father, so it's not a waste of time.

I suppose it is about time
I stop thinking of this as just a chore
And see it as an act of worship
I believe it would be utter bliss
To do this task out of love and joy,
Because it's what I delight to do.

There is no time for worship
When bliss becomes a chore -
So look for true joy in all you do.

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