Like feathered tip of swooping sparrow
Our kinship cuts like that of arrows
A brother’s love has weakened me
I’ll take the slice, so brother be

Shivered dreams of days that past
Rivers gleam to drown mine fast
Our friendship sank and swept to sea
I’ll learn to swim, so brother be

A shadow cast to shade thy head
A brother fights for light instead
Take care thine eyes so thee can see
I’ll pluck mine free, so brother be

Save your hunger or save your thirst
Of food or drink, so thou eat first
Sicken now is Love’s decree
I’ll mend its rule, so brother be

With strife or passion
Of life with ration

A brother’s love, I have for thee
I’ll leave this Earth, so brother be

 

Andrew Todd Ramirez is an amateur writer and full-time student at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He 27 years old and first began writing poetry about 4 months ago after reading “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by John Donne.

 

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12 Responses

  1. David Gosselin

    Hi Andrew,

    Nice effort and nice theme choice. There’s something I’d like to share with you. As a general observation, I notice a lot of what one would call “closed” Augustan couplets, and this has while giving a sense of rhyme, often fetters the verse, because there is a prevailing feeling of the line coming to a full stop with every new rhyme. This was a convention heavily enforced by poets like Dryden and Pope, but which poets like Shakespeare, or Keats and Shelley saw the necessity to break from. I think you’ll appreciate this article, it changed my conception of poetry. I think when one rhymes, one should just keep in mind, is the feeling communicated by the rhyme scheme one of a continuity of idea, as in the melody like a thread flowing through the piece, giving it the sense of a higher idea ordering the piece as a whole, or does the rhyme tend to create a sort of short stop, where the mind is always just nearing the next stop, stop after stop after stop. Despite there always being a rhyme, the effect tends to be the opposite, the idea can never soar because we are constantly reminded of the next speed bump, the next stop, the next rhyme. This article takes up the historical development of two fiercely opposed currents in poetry. With the idea that we want a true revival of classical poetry and it’s recitation, I think this idea because crucial. It is one of the biggest arguments from modernist writers and their spawn, that rhyming sounds “contrived”. It’s true that rhyming can sound contrived, but only if we let our poetry fall victim to “rules”. https://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_97-01/973_dryden.html

    Reply
    • David Gosselin

      Sorry I re-read the poem aloud, and thought it much better than what my comments above made it sound like. It would be wrong to leave my comments as they were! All the more why I think you’ll like hearing about the mortal battle between Dryden and Shakespeare against sing-song poetry, because it is something many people fall into. Congrats on the effective strophic poem! We need to see more of that on this site.
      Best
      Dave B. Gosselin

      Reply
      • David B. Gosselin

        I figure I’d share what I consider the best material I’ve ever found on the question of poetry. Too many people are unaware of the historical development and different opposing currents within poetry. What ends up happening is people bunch all sorts of different poets together i.e. the Romantic poets, the classical poets. However they’re often on opposite ends of the spectrum in the sense that they have completely different ideas about poetry and their poetry communicates a fundamentally different idea of human nature. Keats was not a Romantic poet for example, yet if you go to any college or university literature course, the teachers will always bunch up Keats and others with the Romantic poets. It can be clearly shown, as it is in the second article, that Keats was anything but a Romantic poet. That is the secret for understanding his great Odes. The second article on just this question was really an eye opener for me.

        I think you’ll devour these.

        Best,

        Dave

        https://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_91-96/963_P_B_Shelley.html

        https://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_91-96/963_keats.html

        http://www.schillerinstitute.org/poetry/2009/keats_odes_leach.html

        I can always be reached at: http://www.thechainedmuse.com

  2. B. S. Eliud Acrewe

    In reading the poetry of John Donne, Mr. Ramirez has chosen an excellent poet to investigate. Some of Donne’s poetic works are among the masterpieces of English literature. What I admire about the poetry of Donne is its diction, its “elaborate metric,” its rich, dynamic energy, and its natural tone. Mr. Mantyk has gone so far as to call Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 10”, the second greatest poem under fifty lines in English. Rather than “strophic” a la the Romantics, I would suggest Mr. Ramirez’ poem has the potential of some of those perfected “songs” found in Donne.

    I dislike having to disagree with Mr. Gosselin’s literary observations, because they are some of the most dynamic in English literature at the moment. In fact, Mr. Gosselin’s prose is as exciting and inspiring as that of Mr. MacKenzie’s…and yet.

    First off, here is a quote from T. S. Eliot’s “Poetry in the Eighteenth Century”: “Dryden appeared to cleanse the language of verse and once more bring it back to the prose order. For this reason he is a great poet.”

    Now I know T. S. Eliot’s poetry and prose is for the most part disliked in the New Millennium, even here @ SCP, except for individuals, like enthusiastic critic and songster G. M. H. Thompson, but I would go so far as to say that without an appreciation of John Dryden’s poetry, one can hardly understand the poetry of an entire century. Dryden’s accomplishments include satiric masterpieces, like “Mac Flecknoe,” his dramatic excursions, translating Vergil’s “Aeneid,” and literary criticism, to mention only four.

    Now I know the rhymed, iambic-pentametre couplet has gone out of style; and to a certain degree, I concur with Mr. Gosselin that is a good thing for the very reasons he gives; however, Dryden did not only use rhymed iambic-pentametre couplets, nor did Shakespeare and Keats (who admired Dryden) never use them.

    In politically incorrect “Romeo and Juliet,” Romeo, as well as other characters, frequently break into rhymed couplets.

    ROMEO: So thrive my soul—
    JULIET: A thousand times goodnight!
    (exit above)
    ROMEO: A thousand times the worse, to want thy light.
    Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books,
    But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.
    —————————————————————————————-

    JULIET: Good night, good night, parting is such sweet sorrow
    That I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.
    (exit above)
    ROMEO: Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast.
    Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest.
    Hence will I to my ghostly father’s cell,
    His help to crave, and my dear hap to tell.
    —————————————————————————————-

    The immediate conversation afterwards between Romeo and Friar Lawrence, the whole of Act II, scene iii, is entirely in rhymed iambic pentameter couplets; but though blank verse predominates throughout the tragedy, Shakespeare continued to break into rhymed iambic pentameter couplets, concluding with

    PRINCE: For never was a story of more woe
    Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
    —————————————————————————————

    In “Love’s Labours Lost,” as Felicia Londre has suggested, “quatrains seem more difficult for the actors to master than rhyming couplets, which are more down-to-earth, direct, biting: Rosaline…uses them…to drive a point home,” particularly, I would add, when she is speaking with Ferdinand. But even earlier we can see Berowne breaking in to iambic pentameter couplets.

    BEROWNE: Come on then, I will swear to study so
    To know the thing I am forbid to know.

    BEROWNE: O me, with what strict patience have I sat,
    To see a king transformed to a gnat,
    To see great Hercules whipping a gig,
    And profound Solomon tuning a jig,
    And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys,
    And critic Timon laugh at idle toys.
    —————————————————————————————–

    In “Richard II,” Bolingbroke only begins to use rhyme after he becomes king, as, for example,

    SIR PIERCE: From your own mouth, my lord, did I this deed.

    HENRY IV: They love not poison that do poison need,
    Nor do I thee: though I did wish him dead,
    I hate the murderer, love him murdered.
    The guilt of conscience take thou for they labour,
    But neither my good word nor princely favour:
    With Cain go wander through shades of night,
    And never show thy head by day nor light.
    Lords, I protest, my soul is full of woe,
    That blood should sprinkle me to make me grow:
    Come, mourn with me for that I do lament,
    And put on sullen black incontinent:
    I’ll make a voyage to the Holy Land,
    To wash this blood off from my guilty hand:
    March sadly after; grace my mournings here;
    In weeping after this untimely bier.

    etc.
    ——————————————————————————————

    Occasionally Keats enjoys iambic pentameter couplets, as in “Endymion, Book I”

    A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
    A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
    Therefore, on every morrow, we are wreathing…
    ——————————————————————————————

    or in “Lamia, Part I,”

    Upon a time, before the faery broods
    Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
    Before King Oberon’s bright diadem,
    Sceptre and mantle, clasp’d with dewy gem,
    Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
    From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip’d lawns…
    —————————————————————————————–

    or in “I Stood Tip-toe upon a Little Hill,”

    I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
    The air was cooling, and so very still,
    That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
    Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
    Their scanty leaved, and finely tapering stems,
    Had not yet lost those starry diadems
    Caught from the early sobbing of the morn…
    —————————————————————————————-

    etc.

    And though, there are very few rhymed, iambic-pentametre couplets in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra,” there are even fewer rhymed, iambic-pentametre couplets in Dryden’s “All For Love.” Shakespeare ends “Antony and Cleopatra,”

    OCTAVIAN: Strike those that make them; and their story is
    No less in pity than his glory which
    Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
    In solemn show attend this funeral;
    And then to Rome. Come, Dolabella, see
    High order in this great solemnity.
    ————————————————————————————–
    and Dryden ends “All For Love,”

    CLEOPATRA: He first possesed my person, you my love:
    Caesar loved me; but I loved Antony.
    If I endured him after, ’twas because
    I judged it due to the first name of men;
    And half constrained, I gave, as to a tyrant,
    What he would take by Force.

    VENTIDIUS: O Syren, Syren.
    Yet grant that all the love she boasts were true,
    Has she not ruined you? I still urge that,
    The fatal consequence.

    CLEOPATRA: The consequence indeed—
    For I dare challenge him, my greatest foe.
    —————————————————————————————

    I would argue that what Dryden could have used to end his play, since he insisted on using iambic-pentametre blank verse, would have been a couple of rhymed, iambic-pentametre couplets.

    I would not recommend that any soul
    attempt to try to write entirely like those,
    those poets, Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, or Keats;
    but each of us who write can see their feats,
    when they used rhyming couplets, or did not,
    and learn from what they did and what they wrought.

    Reply
    • David B. Gosselin

      P.S. to B. S. Eliud Acrewe

      I never said anything against the rhyming couplet, not at all… I brought up the issue of the sing-song Augustan closed couplet. Even saying that I feel like I’m prating, but the idea is many mistake rhyming for poetry. Look at the difference between Keats’ rhyming and continuous couplets i.e. the idea is allowed to freely flow, everything is not dictated by the stop that comes with the rhyme at the end of each line. The closed couplet just creates a neurotic feeling, as if the writer is just contriving some verse to have an effect as opposed to genuine poetry. I’ve written several pieces with rhyming couplets as well. Just thought I’d clear that up, because I would never say there is a problem with rhyming couplets…

      Keats wrote poetry, Dryden wrote mathematically correct verses.

      This article, by a former colleague of mine, is a true tour de force on exactly this subject.

      https://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_97-01/973_dryden.html

      I’ve written with rhyming couplets as well in several instances:

      https://www.thechainedmuse.com/songs-of-mortality

      Best

      Reply
    • Andrew Ramirez

      I’m blown away by your comments. I just started writing poems last semester. There is a lot about what is being said above that I do not understand entirely, but am interested to learn more about how to write better poems. Thanks for contributing so that I may learn!

      Reply

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