a rondeau

Cape Disappointment, battered and distressed,
Besieged, beset, by brute-force waves hard-pressed
As broad and deep Columbia collides
With Chinook-whipped Pacific Ocean tides—
Leviathans unchained, their fury unsuppressed.

Above the windswept surge of trough and crest
A sentinel’s cyclopic eye turns west,
Revealing what the fading daylight hides;
Cape Disappointment.

With ebbing sighs, the waning winds divest
Themselves of wrath and seek surcease in rest,
As o’er the bar the silent river glides,
And high above, the watchful eye presides;
By ocean, river, land and sky caressed—
Cape Disappointment.

 

James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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13 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    This is great, James! It’s been a long time since I read such a dramatic poetic interaction between humanity and unfettered nature. Thank you for including the matching photo of Cape Disappointment which I have never seen, but which your words seem to so aptly describe.

    Reply
  2. David St. John

    I very much enjoy Mr. Tweedie’s poetry. This one especially resonates with me.

    Reply
  3. David Watt

    Creating a poem from the inspiration of a dynamic photo has paid off handsomely. Your rondeau captures the unfolding drama of this scene. Well done.

    Reply
  4. William Krusch

    As I read your poem while the rains from Hurricane Florence pounded against my window, I couldn’t help but think at first that the cyclopic eye of the poem was the eye of Florence… But yes, lighthouses are also monocular, so fair game. Your use of consonance with the repeated “b’s” (voiced bilabial stops if we want to get technical about phonics, I suppose) works well to produce and effect of propulsion, which is quite fitting for waves, of course. The ‘A’ rhyme certainly helps to create a feeling of being pushed forward, and the the contrast with the openness of the ‘B’ rhyme is fine.

    Reply
  5. Mark Stone

    James, Hello. 1. The assonance, consonance and alliteration in phrases such as “fading daylight hides” and “seeks surcease in rest” and “waning winds divest” is impressive. 2. In L3, I wish there were a way to say, while maintaining the meter, “the Columbia” or “the Columbia River.” You would never say “Columbia is a mile wide here.” You would say “The Columbia is a mile wide here.” So L3 sounds a bit awkward, since there is no “the.” 3. L5 has one more foot than the other lines, but it does not diminish the poem, in my view. 4. In L8, I would change the semi-colon to a colon. 5. In L11, since “surcease” means “cessation,” perhaps it would make more sense to say “seeks surcease and rest,” rather than “seeks surcease in rest.” Just a thought. 6. Notwithstanding these points, the poem is very nicely crafted. I enjoyed it.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Mark, Thank you for your comments and suggestions. My intent was to project a personification onto “the” river rendering the “the” extraneous. I confess I slipped on the extra foot. In my reading of the poem I somehow managed to elide “leviathan” into one beat, a slip I should have caught. I knowingly and intentionally bent the syntax of surcease just a little to maintain the alliteration. I didn’t think anyone would notice. . . but I was wrong! After submission I noticed the same punctuation improvements that you did. I have already incorporated them into my copy of the text. You have an eagle eye!

      Reply
  6. James A. Tweedie

    I am grateful for the positive response to my poem—my first attempt at a rondeau. From my home I can drive to the place where I took the picture (locally known as “Waikiki Beach”) in 20-25 minutes. The poem was not, in fact, inspired by the picture but by personally mexperiencing this spectacular area every day. The Columbia River bar is the most dangerous stretch of navigable water in the United States. The Coast Guard has its ocean rescue training base there.

    Reply
  7. James Sale

    Really enjoyed this evocative poem; and what a forbidding name for an actual place: ‘Cape Disappointment’ – ooh! Well done, James.

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    As usual, nice work, James. I’ve never written a rondeau, but I have published more than one rondeau redouble. Perhaps I shall give it a try, and perhaps you shall write one of the latter one day. It’s a difficult form, but I’m sure you will make the best of it.

    Reply

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