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How about this Irish poem, ever heard of it?

by Adam Alley on 2020-05-11T08:54:21-04:00 | Comments

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I have been writing poetry since the eight grade. Let’s see...that was 2005 I think, so a good, solid fifteen years ago. Shew! Time certainly does fly! Once I entered community college I got involved in a poetry club, made friends, explored the realms of creative writing, and continued to grow and nurture my love of the creative process of wordsmithing. 

In 2012 I transferred to Emory and Henry and started my studies, majoring in history, a minor in creative writing. All of this is to say, poetry is not something new to me, but the form I selected for this week’s post was one I have never heard of before. Frankly, this was my goal for National Poetry Month, look at a few forms that I had never heard of, pick some of the more difficult forms (who doesn’t like a challenge) and see where I went from there. With this criteria governing my selections I was quickly intrigued by one of the first forms I “stumbled upon” if you can really stumble across something in a pretty exhaustive list of alphabetically organized types of poetry. 

Before naming this post's form, I really want to address its structure, because, if I’m being honest, this one is an extremely challenging one. There are a number of criteria (Brewer, 2017; Rowan, 2008; Tinker, 2009; Weatherford, 2015) that must be met in order to accurately create this form so the sooner I cover the instructions the better. Get ready!

First, the stanza. You can have one stanza, you can have fifty, it doesn’t matter how many you use BUT they must be four-line stanzas (quatrains). Simple enough.

Each line must have no more and no less than 7 syllables. Now you’re going to have to think a little bit about that word or phrase you wanted to use. It HAS to total 7 syllables.

Each line must also have at least two words that begin with the same letter.

Now the rhyme scheme. Each stanza will have an A-B-A-B rhyme scheme. Lines 1 and 3 will rhyme, Lines 2 and 4 will rhyme. Now here is where the challenge is revealed! The rhyming words used in Lines 1 and 3 MUST be a three-syllable word. The rhyming words used in Lines 2 and 4 MUST be a two-syllable word. Already this structure has limited each line we create to 7 syllables, now our rhyming words are limiting us even further! I told you this wasn’t easy, but I will go ahead and say, the finished products are very well written, very fun reads, they have a nice...flow to them. I guess it doesn’t hurt, at this point, to let you know that most poems that take this form are focused on the subject of nature and the natural world.

As we come to the end of this poem, there is one more step that is required. I hope you haven't started to write yet because this might create another challenge or two: the dunadh. The dunadh means that "the poem will end as it began, either with the first syllable, word, phrase, or line" (Weatherford, 2015). As the rules have implied thus far, the very last word of your poem will end in a two-syllable word that must rhyme with line 2 of your last stanza. Still following? That means that that very last rhyme you plan on using, your very last word, is going to have to be the first word you started everything with.

Its a lot to consider, a lot of rules to follow. I'll be honest, before this post I had never read this poetic form before, at least unawares to me at the time, and I have never written in this form either. So far this has been the most challenging form I've written to date. I am curious as to how many of you have used this form, read it, have already figured out what I am talking about. Do you know the name? Have you had to Google it yet, I promise you will once you find out what it is. 

This form is the Ae Freislighe, pronounced ("Ay freshlee" or "aye freshly" ( Rowan, 2008; Tinker, 2009))!

Here is my attempt at this type of poem, I hope you decide to give it a shot:

A melancholy song of midnight: the worm and the blue bird 

Midnight, muddy invasion.

Fallen leaves crisply crinkle,

Creepy crawly occasion

Under starred skies that twinkle.

 

The dark dead night gleefully

Near nettle-brush does utter,

“O’ worms, wriggle peacefully

When blue birds aren’t a’ flutter!” 

 

Slowly, creeping cautiously

A curt cadence of defeat.

The worms nibble nauseously, 

The forest’s feet made mincemeat.

 

From feathered perch, slumbering

The blue birds are a’ dreaming.

Hungry hunters numbering

Their next meal, selfish scheming.

 

Crooning screech owl overhead 

Sitting solemn in moonlight.

Whispers to the copperhead

“Ah! the songs sung at midnight.”

 

Here are some more excellent examples brought to you by the library’s incredible staff:

Kitty on the veranda
Laser gaze on the sparrow
Green eyes do not meander
Tail twitch, body an arrow

-Jane

 

Gooey gourmet chocolate

Dipped in caramel coffee

A half-eaten hazelnut-

Butter coconut cookie

-Rebecca

 

Try it out, have some fun. I can’t wait to see what you create! Submit your creations to aalley@ehc.edu and your poem might get featured in a future blog post.

 

Reference

Brewer, R. L. (29 May, 2017) Ae freislighe: Poetic form. [Web blog post] Retrieved from https://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/ae-freislighe-poetic-form

Rowan [user]. (1 June, 2008). Ae freislighe pressed. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from https://yeahwrite.me/writing-help-ae-freislighe/

Tinker [user]. (4 June, 2009). Ae freislighe. [Web forum.] Retrieved from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/topic/1181-ae-freislighe/ 

Weatherford, C.L. (2015). Dunadh. Retrieved from http://www.poetrybase.info/forms/004/486.shtml

 


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