O, curse Zahran Hashim and, yes, Abu Mohammad too,
for evil at the Shangri-la and Batticalao,
just two, of all those vicious men, who hit Sri Lanka’s calm.
O, Lord, the people cry aloud; they long for love and balm.
Jihadist, suicidal, evil tools o’ th’ hateful Beast
came on a happy, festive day to crush sweet joy and peace.
Such cowards know no mercy. What a tragic Easter Day,
attacking parents and their children where they’ve come to pray.
Sri Lanka, o, such angst has come to you, such hate and pain;
these murderers of hundreds left Earth this eternal stain.

 

Bruce Dale Wise is a poet living in Texas who often writes poems and commentary under anagrammatic heteronyms.

 


Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.”

16 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    From Texas now? Down there I hear they don’t cotton to lamentations regarding the Mother Church. But anyways, this might be your best tennos to date (and I thank you again for conceiving and giving birth to this fixed form). Life sucks, the world sucks, and yet we press onward. How much longer we can continue like this is anybody’s guess. Until the cows come home, or until the chickens come home to roost, I suppose. Press ever onward!

    Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Monty, the fixed form of a tennos is exactly as BDW has defined it, since he invented it. As I understand it, it is rhyming heptameter couplets five couplets long. The sum of metrical feet is 10 x 7, which is equal to 14 x 5, which is why it is called a tennos (which is sonnet spelled backward). Get It? If you need to know more, then just ask, and I’m sure that one of us will provide an answer.

  2. Monty

    Nah, I ain’t ‘got it’ . . and I won’t ‘get it’. When I spotted the word in your above Comment, I (naively) assumed that it was an established and officially-recognised poetry Form.

    I now realise that I’m not inclined or prepared to negotiate unnecessary mathematical equations for what I can only see as a gimmick.

    Reply
  3. Esiad L. Werecub

    Mr. Anderson is correct in understanding the structure of the tennos (after all, he wrote one himself), which Mr. Wise first wrote as ten-nos to indicate it was ten lines long; but because he looks upon the syllable as the basic poetic unit, he tends to look upon the English sonnet (particularly that of Spenser and Shakespeare) as 14 lines of ten syllables, and the American tennos as 10 lines of 14 syllables. Whereas the English sonnet (id est, that of Shakespeare) runs a rhyme scheme of ababcdcdefefgg, the American tennos is aabbccddee, which Mr. Anderson correctly describes as five (he would say, iambic), heptametre couplets.

    Although Mr. Phillips looks upon it as a gimmick, it actually has historical reasons for its inception. Iambic-heptametre couplets first came to English literary fruition in the translation of Homer’s poetry by George Chapman in the Elizabethan period, his translation of the Iliad beginning thus:

    “Achilles baneful wrath resound, O Goddess that imposed
    Infinite sorrows on the Greeks, and many brave souls los’d
    From breasts heroic; sent them far to that invisible cave
    That no light comforts; and their limbs to dogs and vultures gave.
    To all which Jove’s will gave effect; from whom first strife begun
    Betwixt Atrides, king of men, and Thetis’ godlike son.”

    Though Chapman’s verse hardly captures Homer’s remarkable poetic lines (despite Keats’ sonnet), the very audacity of Chapman’s accomplishment is another indicator, if one needed one, of the unique and powerful impulse of Elizabethan literature, which brought forth not only Spenser’s amazing, unfinished, allegorical Romance and the heights of English poetic drama, as seen in works of Shakespeare, inter alia, but also Chapman’s striking translations.

    As for Mr. Phillips’ phrase “unnecessary mathematical equations”, one could offer the Greek poets themselves, Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, inter alia, as the beginning impulse for the importance of poetry and mathematics.

    Reply
    • Monty

      So, there obviously was a time when couplets (of a certain form) first came to fruition in English literature; we can safely agree on that. But how can that period (whenever it was) be deemed as “historical reasons” for one individual chap in the 21st century devising his own personal form of poetry for his oen use? ANY individual human is free to devise ANY form which takes their fancy; with however many lines they wish.. however many syllables they wish.. and they can name it what they wish.
      In that sense, I myself could take the Ballad form; swap a few things around; add or subtract a few lines . . and call it a Dallab. But it would only be my own little plaything. I wouldn’t have the right (or the cheek) to name it ‘The French Dallab’ . . in the sense that you felt, in your comment above, that you had the right to label your plaything as “The American Tennos”.
      There’s no such thing as an American Tennos; there’s no such thing as a Tennos; there’s just a chap somewhere in North America who strung a few lines together for his own use . . and gave it a pet-name.

      The “importance” of poetry and mathematics (if it exists) may only be important to some; to others, the two words never have and never will meet in the same sentence.

      Reply
  4. Lew Icarus Bede

    The Tennos

    The tennos is another way of looking at the World,
    from all the many other ways one has observed, or learned.
    Iambic couplets in heptametres hint balladry,
    connecting it to the tradition of folk poetry.
    Five couplets keep it short, though those who long to add more lines
    can add as many as they like, producing longer chains.
    The rhymes are optional, for those who like the jan-gle-ing,
    the clanging sounds allow for those who’d really rather sing.
    And finally, divisions can be done in varied ways
    in order to instruct, eluct, divert, or to amaze.

    Lew Icarus Bede is a poet and literary critic. The neologism of Beau Lecsi Werd, eluct, suggests expounding, that is, escaping and expanding upon knowledge, belief, etc.

    Reply
    • Monty

      The very title of your piece is misleading: it should read ‘My Tennos’. ‘The Tennos’ would suggest that it’s a recognised Form; but ‘My Tennos’ may inform the reader that it’s your own personal plaything; and that’s it’s your own “other way of looking at the world”.

      You go on to say that “those who long* to add more lines (the word ‘long’ makes no sense; it should read ‘wish’) can add as many as they like” . . . who are “those”? There are no “those” using that Form; it’s your thing. And how can you ever describe it as a fixed-form when you’ve openly invited potential users to “add as many lines as they like”? If you were to suggest to someone that they write a Sonnet, would you invite them to add as many lines as they wished above the 14 required?

      What a mess you’ve made of the word ‘jangling’; not only have you mis-spelt it with an ‘e’.. but you’ve flagrantly defaced* it with those pathetically-incongruous hyphens. Can you not see how ugly they look on the page? The words of our language are there to be used . . not abused.
      (*I say defaced in the same sense as I consider that another once of your shores, Dickinson, defaced her own poetry with her seemingly attention-seeking hyphens and strokes. How ugly they are on the eye; and how they detract from the poetry.)

      Regarding another of your playthings, the (non)word ‘eluct’: contextually, one can see clearly that it’s just a deformed abbreviation of the word ‘elucidate’ . . . thus, why can’t you just use ‘elucidate’ like the rest of us? Again, it’s not using but abusing.

      You then cheekily attempt to demonstrate that ‘eluct’ has a meaning: “Escaping knowledge”. How does one ‘escape knowledge’? The best answer I can come up with is: ‘To be locked in solitary-confinement from birth to death’.

      Reply
      • Rupert Palmer

        I fear you may have misapprehended the (non)word ‘eluct’. I suspect this attempted neologism is derived from ineluctabilis, or ineluctable, being therefore synonymous with ‘avoid’.

  5. Lew Icarus Bede

    First off, I would like to thank Mr. Phillips for his critique of my work.

    1. The title of “The Tennos” stands. It is exactly what the poem is about. The most impotant thing for me about the tennos, is that it cuts the message off (“Five couplets keep it short”), so I can be done with it (especially if it is an overwhelming tragedy, as in the above tennos on the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, where so many hundreds have died), so I can go on to other vital topics. [By the way, in the next printing, my Sri Lankan charichord is Esala “Cu” D’ Abrew.] Of the several who have written tennos (the plural is the same as the singular), as far as I know, no one has embraced it as I have; but it is an open form that is open to anyone. It really is nothing more than a verse-grouping, the kind that one saw beginning in Homer and Pindar, and that Vergil saw in Theocritus. Ms. May’s recent translation of part of Vergil’s 8th Eclogue used verse-groupings of four lines.

    2. It is those groupings of four lines that I, and others, like Ms. Foreman, have used in what I have called the dodeca (though the dodeca has other possible, interesting breaks, like 6-6 and 3-3-3-3. While few have used the tennos, like Mr. Anderson and Mr. Salemi, even fewer have used the larger groupings. For example, I have used the tennos as a verse-grouping in poems on esoteric topics, like the 40-lined “His Last Prologue” from a play by Terence (195 BC – 159 BC), which really probably nobody in this generation will be interested in, to a more contemporary topic of 8 tennos (80 lines), “Ode on an Ocean Urb”.

    3. Of the various poetic forms that I have created, most have not been embraced. However, in my younger years, I was most amazed at how Robert Burke handled the bilding [sic]; but since then no one has been interested in that form; and it will have to await future generations, if ever.

    4. In L5 which begins with the word “Five”, “long” is a pun and an opposing pairing with “short”.

    5. Part of my creative urge in structures actually comes from the Romantics, like Blake, who used what Mr. Salemi calls “the fourteener”, or Keats, who took structures he created to make his odes, or Shelley, who took five developed sonnets to make “Ode to the West Wind”, or Byron, who used the ottava rima to create “Don Juan”, or Pushkin, in Russian literature, who used Russian sonnets to create his verse-novel Eugene Onegin. Though the Romantics and Victorians took us down a less intellectual path (“escaping knowledge”, pursuing feeling) than that of Neoclassicists, like Dryden, Pope and S. Johnson, one of their important contributions to English literature was in their creative constructions.

    6. Mr. Phillips is correct to catch the sharp quality of “jan-gle-ing”, which he calls “ugly”, but which I would probably call “purposefully discordant”. There is no doubt that I embrace the Modernists (the use of “curse” in the Sri Lanka poem comes straight from D. Thomas), because their experiments, like the Romantics before them, added to the English language. Yes, I embrace Cummingsesque techniques, etc. Yes, I embrace Dickinsonian dashes, etc. However, still in the context of World literature of the last three millennia.

    7. In the original printing of the poem “The Tennos”, I had used the neologism “producting” instead of “producing”, to get a harder sound and create an alternate nuance, in preparation for the neologism “eluct”; but I thought, in printing it in this comment-strand that it would probably be too “hard” to take. As for escaping knowledge—hah! one has only to look at the last two centuries to see countless examples of just that.

    8. Finally, Mr. Phillips is absolutely correct to note that I am “just a chap somewhere in North America”.

    Reply
  6. Monty

    That’s it for me, Bruce: I’ve got to walk away. I stick my hands up: I should never have been involved in this in the first place . . it’s my own fault. I’ve self-reneged on a promise that I made to myself sometime last year. At that time, I began to realise two things:

    a/ That I was finding it increasingly tiresome to read anything written by yourself, due to your wanton manhandling of our language; your ghastly dissection of words by way of hyphens; your lazy and clumsy attempt at rhymes; your use of non-existent words; and the fact that everything you write – be it a poem, a comment or a reply – contains (sometimes literally) twice as many commas as it should. There were times when, before even reading a piece you wrote, just to look at it as an image was so unpleasing on the eye.

    b/ You never make any comments on other people’s poems. You write words in the Comment section, but they’re not comments; they’re just an opportunity for you to name as many famous writers/poets as possible, to show everyone how well-read you are. Some of your comments are so disingenuous to the poem above them: ostensibly, you’ll say that a certain word/line in the poem reminds you of, for example, Keats . . but really, you just wanted to throw the name Keats into the mix. The word/line in the poem was just a simple, everyday use of English, but you’ll somehow liken it to the style of someone or other, just to evoke their name. Here’s an immaculate example: In one of your comments above, referring to your Sri Lanka piece above that, you say that “your use of the word ‘curse’ in the poem comes straight from D. Thomas”. How futile! So, you used a 5-letter everyday English word in a piece that YOU wrote . . Thomas used the same 5-letter word in a piece that HE wrote . . and a trillion others have used the same word in pieces that THEY wrote. But yours came straight from Thomas? IT DIDN’T! It’s just a word you used in a poem; and if Thomas had never existed, you’d have still used that word in your poem; and tomorrow, someone else in the English-speaking world will use that same word in THEIR poem.

    D’ya see what I’m saying? That was just a futile attempt to namecheck yet another poet. Have a look at your comments above: just in this very thread there could be anything between 30 and 50 famous names! And ever since I’ve been affiliated with SCP, all your comments have been of the same vein. That’s why I used the word ‘disingenuous’ above: you just hijack other people’s Comment-Section to display how well-read you are. Is it any wonder that readers generally don’t reply to your comments? They, like me, must just get lost in the monotonous sea of names . . and lose interest.

    But the silly thing is . . YOU ARE WELL-READ! YOU’RE VERY WELL-READ . . . that’s clearly evident to me. And if it’s evident to ME – with my severe lack of knowledge about famous poets before the 17th century – then it must be evident to the general readership at SCP. Hence, you don’t need to constantly try to prove yourself.

    It’s the same with your reckless and self-delusional attempts to invent new ‘words’ . . WHY? Someone told me in recent years that there are more than a quarter of a million official words currently in use in our language . . is that not enough for you? I’ve heard it said that English is the richest language on the globe; you should be grateful for that . . grateful that you’ve got more words than you can ever know to choose from. Leave the new words to the lexicographers!

    Anyroad, going back to what I was saying: When all of the above became apparent to me last year, I decided that I’d no longer read or reply to your comments. Rightly or wrongly, I felt that you might be some sort of fantasist with ambitions to create an esoteric new language; and that to get involved in further discourse with you would generally prove to be incompatible. So I resolved to leave you to your own devices: and since then, that’s how it’s been . . . until now.

    Like I said, it’s my own fault: I’ve stupidly got myself involved again . . and broken my own promise to myself. I s’pose I could justify it by assuring myself that I was acting in staunch defence of our beautiful language (eluct!); but I still shouldn’t have got involved. Hence, I’ve stuck my hands up, and I’ll walk away quietly.

    From a chap somewhere in southern Europe . .

    Reply
  7. Lew Icarus Bede

    Even though his comments are predominantly negative, Mr. Phillips has demonstrated the ability Mr. Stone possesses of informing a poet’s style.

    Briefly answering his comments:

    1.
    a. I’ve never thought I was manhandling the language, but I like the idea.
    b. Nominative hyphens are for me an Anglo-Saxon technique.
    c. I use rhymes spontaneously.
    d. As to neologisms, Thomas Browne is an inspiration.
    e. As to many commas, perhaps I am too hesitant.

    2.
    a. When I read poetry I immediately link it to the poetic tradition (English, etc.), even when the poets themselves do not. It does take practice to catch those nuances.
    b. “Curse” definitely came from Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”. It is a word I so rarely use that it is glaring to me how I used it in the imperative in the above tennos. Hints of Yeats and Poe in the tennos are not as emphatic. But who will notice this in the New Millennium?

    3. That monotonous sea of names is the tradition, and it matters—enormously.

    4. The serious artist will constantly work on and improve his or her poetry.

    5.
    a. You are right. English is the richest language in terms of vocabulary with over 1,000,000 words, and is growing at a quick clip.
    b. Beau Lecsi Werd is a lexicographer, as many of the classical poets were.
    c. I don’t think English is as beautiful a language as Greek, or Latin, or Italian, or French; however, its poets do strive for beauty, at times.

    Reply
  8. Maggie

    Well, that was interesting. I agree that English is not a beautiful language. I would much prefer Latin because the meaning of its words stays constant, which is clearly preferable. If you wrote a poem in Latin now, it would have the same meaning 100 years from now. That is not the case with the English language. There are so many words whose meanings have changed that it all but destroys some classical poetry. Gay, joint, cool, hot, weed, bitch . . . the list is probably endless and the words which once had specific meanings have devolved into gutter slang.

    I got side-tracked. I came looking for some kind of definition of “tennos,” which I seem to have found, even if opinions vary as to what it actually is. For that, I thank you. I will add it to my list of poetic forms to write, but I can’t say I will ever write one.

    But rather than get into an argument (heated discussion), about semantics, grammar and punctuation, I would rather comment on the poem itself without reference to the “form.” I was surprised to find such a timely poem already posted. During times of horrific disasters, it takes me days, if not weeks, to absorb the enormity of what has happened before I can respond poetically. Thank you for your response. I cannot say it was a “joy” to read; it rather hit me in the pit of my stomach. Is it a good poem? I’ll let the rest of you debate that, but it is timely and relevant, which good poetry should be. We should be making social statements!

    Have you responded with a poem regarding the destruction of the Notre Dam Cathedral? If you have, I would like to read it.

    Reply
    • Monty

      I think English IS a beautiful language, Maggie: for the simple reason that I consider ALL european languages to be beautiful in their own way (except maybe German, which can sometimes sound a bit harsh on my ear). I’d agree that modern-day English is not as beautiful as old English, which may account for the fact that I don’t read hardly any modern-day English poetry (I read predominantly from around 1800 to around 1970).

      But English is a spoken-language: and as such, there will inevitably always be additions; changes in word-meanings; modifications, etc. I personally despise some of the changes to our language in the last few decades (and I wholly agree with your word “devolved”); but I’ve grudgingly come to accept that the language simply has to change to reflect the changes in our system of existence.

      Whereas Latin, as beautiful as you feel it to be, is NOT a spoken language; so of course it will always remain constant, and its words will always remain untarnished by modern times.

      Reply
  9. Lew Icarus Bede

    Here is a recent poem on the Notre Dame fire, which I don’t like as much as two earlier poems, the one which looks at Notre Dame architecturally and the one that counters a James Fenton poem.

    The Notre Dame Blaze
    by Rucléaire D’ Webs

    With over fifty acres of wood in its structure’s hull,
    the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paree burned wi—ld—ly…
    on Monday after the Palm Sunday after six o’clock,
    the roof in rubble, spi-re fa/ /en, mished-mashed ashes clogged.
    Though Kenneth Clark did not know what ci-vi-li-za-tion was,
    still he thought he could recognize it standing on the Seine.
    If he were now alive and standing there, what would he think?
    While looking at the cinders on the square, would his heart sink?
    If one was waiting for an age’s sign, would this be it:
    neglect, poor fire precautions, restoration accident?

    Rucléaire D’ Webs is a poet of France and the Internet. Kenneth Clark (1903-1983) was a British art historian, who, while standing on the Seine, thought Notre Dame was his definition of civilization.

    Notre Dame de Paris
    by Berlius de Wace

    I still remember seeing it along the blue-lit Seine,
    the arching bridge, the gray walkway, the winter oxygen.
    I did not know who I was then, the white clouds floating by,
    the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral rising in the sky.
    Who put that there?—the styles edging toward the Renaissance,
    the flying buttresses supporting its gray elegance,
    that fall like waterfalls in stone around its heavy back,
    to keep its heaving walls upright, not crumbling at a crack.
    I can’t forget its grand facade, nor its inspiring spire,
    that points the way to God and His uplifting, holy lyre.

    Berlius de Wace is a poet of Medieval France.

    In Paris With Joe
    by Claude I. S. Weber

    I was once in the city of love.
    I walked down the Champs-Elysées.
    I went all the way
    to the Arc de Triomphe
    without a cell phone.

    I also went into the Louvre,
    ablazoned in millions of rimmed suns—
    bursting vermilions and crimsons—
    reminding me now of the giclées
    of Leonid Afremov.

    I went over too
    to the Centre Georges Pompidou
    with its exoskeleton
    of brightly coloured tubes:
    red, yellow, green and blue.

    At Les Invalides, you
    went straight for Napoleon’s Tomb.
    I still remember the room,
    colossal, and filled with my gloom
    and your awe,

    like Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris,
    grand and vast, such an enormity.
    I sat in it
    a minute…
    It seamed an eternity.

    I walked to La tour Eiffel,
    and leaning on the iron lattice on the Champ de Mars,
    I fell
    under the spell of Marc Chagall
    and Guy de Maupassant.

    You went to the Basilica, Sacré-Couer,
    on Montmartre’s curve,
    while I sat in a Station of the Metro,
    waiting, on a cold, hard, gray bench in
    la réalité ciment,

    and later that night,
    amidst a rainbow of light,
    after exquisite champagne,
    I was mugged in Pigalle,
    my train ticket to Heilbronn stolen.

    Claude I. S. Weber is a poet fond of France. Joe S. was a US Army buddy stationed in Germany.

    Reply
    • Maggie

      Thank you. I believe Kenneth Clark was right. With today’s news, it seems that perhaps civilization (as in being civil) has collapsed and lies in smoldering ruins.

      Reply

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