Today, I give you an offering of a poem that has never seen the light of day. Before you read it, though, I have to tell you all about it. Sometimes, I think that I’m better at intellectualizing poetry than writing it. Be that as it may, I enjoy understanding the ins and outs of verse, and I want the world to appreciate all the wonderful details, too.
First of all, I wrote this poem around a romantic line from the Song of Solomon that I had stuck in my head: I am my beloved’s, and he is mine. This is a chiasmic expression. That means that its two phrases mirror each other with a reversal of the noun/verb. I wanted to use this reversal to demonstrate the idea of ownership in love, that is, that it doesn’t belong to one, but to both the parties.
As for structure, it is written as a romance. This is actually a Spanish word and one of the oldest and most traditional forms of poetry in Spanish. In your head, roll it off your tongue, because it’s meant to be rolled. Each line of this type of verse has eight syllables; rhyme is assonance or rima asonante, otherwise known as half rhyme in English. The vowels will sound the same, but not the consonants. Lighthouse, for example, might rhyme with eyebrow. The rhymes fall on the even lines, and the odd lines have no distinguishable rhymes.
For my poem, I anglicized it by turning the eight syllables into iambic tetrameter and used exact rhymes. Oh, and, I wrote it in English. Next week, I’ll post one that I wrote in Spanish.
Here, read the poem, already. It’s not very long!
He makes his claim, and I am his,
turned russet, painted in a pear,
and lilies drooping on his bed.
What time keeps from us unaware,
he sets in linseed and pastels:
Ivonna standing near the lake
with apple leaves heaped at her feet,
the field where mountain asters quake
with me, Ivonna, trembling.
What time holds for us, he dispels
in Santa Juana’s corridors
with acolytes that ring her bells
and carry candles through her nave.
He sends me consecrated wine
until, through silence, I can speak:
Yes—I am his, but he is mine!