Free Poetry Breaks Essay Example
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes
I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers/ancient as the world/and older than the flow/of human blood/in human veins./My soul has grown/deep like the rivers. I bathed in the Euphrates/when dawns were young. I built my hut/near the Congo/and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile/and raised the pyramids/above it. I heard the singing/of the Mississippi/when Abe Lincoln/ went down to/New Orleans, and I’ve seen/its muddy bosom/turn all golden/in the sunset. I’ve known rivers:/Ancient, dusky rivers./My soul has grown deep/like the rivers.
The breaks in Hughes's poem are, in actuality, much less frequent. His infrequent use of breaks suggest the long time that it takes rivers to meander, as well as the length of meandering rivers. His sparse usage of line breaks also show the length of the negro's consciousness on earth. Only near the end are his breaks more staccato-like, suggesting a climax or conclusion -- a finality to the poem. The separate stanza at the end of the poem has no line breaks, suggesting that the narrator stands apart, yet is similar to the almost-infinite, meandering nature of the rivers.
[Buffalo Bill's] by E.E. Cummings
Buffalo Bill’s defunct/who used to ride/a watersmooth-silver stallion/and break one/two/three four/five/pigeons just like that Jesus/he was a handsome man/and what I want to know/is how do you like/your blueeyed boy/Mister Death.
The breaks in this short poem by E.E. Cummings are, again, not as frequent as I predicted. However, instead of a string of breaks where the enumerations occurs, he conjoins the words in a string, suggesting a quickening of pace for the reading, e.g. "onetwothreefourfive", a strategy I thought he would employ.
"Green Rain" by Dorothy Livesay
I remember long veils of green rain/feathered like the shawl of my grandmother—/green from the half-green of the spring trees/waving in the valley./I remember the road like the one/which leads to my grandmother’s house,/a warm house, with green carpets, geraniums, a trilling canary and shining horse-hair chairs;/and the silence, fully of the rain’s falling/was like my grandmother’s parlor alive with herself/and her voice, rising and falling—/rain and wind intermingled./I remember on that day I was thinking only of my love/and of my love’s house./ But now I remember the day as I remember my grandmother./I remember the rain as the feathery fringe of her shawl.
This poem's breaks were very similar to how I had penned them. The rhythm and meter suggested by the breaks are iambic pentameter. The meter works well to concisely sum up the nostalgic tone of the poem, a sort of pitter-patter like the rain she alludes to in the poem.
"Leaving the Motel" by W.D. Snodgrass
Outside, the last kids holler near the pool:/they’ll stay the night. Pick up the towels;/fold your collar out of sight./Check: is the second bed unrumpled, as agreed?/Landlords have to think ahead in case of need./Too. Keep things straight; don’t’ take the matches, the wrong keyrings—/we’ve nowhere we could keep a keepsake—/ashtrays, combs, things that sooner or later/others would accidentally find./Check: take nothing of one another’s and/leave behind your license number only,/which they won’t care to trace; we’ve paid./Still, should such things get lonely, leave in their vase/an aspirin to preserve our lilacs,/the wayside flowers we’ve gathered/and must leave to serve a few more hours; that’s all./We can’t tell when we’ll come back,/can’t press claims, we would no doubt have/other rooms then, or other names.
After reviewing the actual version of this poem, I discovered that my breaks made the poem less sing-songy, which was the intended effect of the breaks in the authentic poem. Again, the iambic pentameter lent the poem a quick time and meter that suggested a fast pace. The poem was a brief snippet of a list, which fits the pace of the poem well. My breaks overlooked the effect of a list during a reading -- a sort of frantic checking to get things ready when one is leaving a motel.
Cummings, E.E. (n.d.). "[Buffalo Bill's]." Retrieved on 05 Apr 2015 from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176654
Hughes, Langston. (n.d.). "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." Retrieved on 05 Apr 2015 from http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/negro-speaks-rivers
Livesay, Dorothy. (n.d.). "Green Rain." Retrieved on 05 Apr 2015 from http://allpoetry.com/contest/2462033-Green-Rain
Snodgrass, W.D. (n.d.). "Leaving the Motel." Retrieved on 05 Apr 2015 from http://genius.com/Wd-snodgrass-leaving-the-motel-annotated
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