Thursday Takeaway

02 Dec

10:28, Thursday [again? already?], 2 December, 2010 – Atlanta

Today is a gentle day. I shall share three examples of imagery that I love and that will do us. I figure you will appreciate the chance to have a break in things to think about and do, from me, as, if you are like me, you follow and check on several sites.

First though, a little theory [okay, I lied. I am asking your brain to exert a few cells.]. It is useful for your own poetry, especially if you do not have an ear, to know the effect of different letters:


RESONANCE n, m, ng, z, zh lingering,droning, vibrant effects

HARSHNESS k, g, hard c throaty sounds, for dissonance and cacophony

PLOSIVENESS b, p, t, d, g, k, percussive sounds

For more on sound, there is an excellent essay by C. John Holcombe, on sound patterning, if you wish to read more.

The first example of using how words sound, as well as sound imagery, is a poem by William Carlos Williams, “The Dance,” based on Brueghel’s painting.

The Dance

In Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess,
the dancers go round, they go round and
around, the squeal and the blare and the fiddles
tipping their bellies (round as the thick-
sided glasses whose wash they impound)
their hips and their bellies off balance
to turn them. Kicking and rolling about
the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those
shanks must be sound to bear up under such
rollicking measures, prance as they dance
in Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess.

Read the poem aloud. Your mouth will move, as the words, and the dancers do, around, with the broad ou, the repeated b sounds, and the sw sound. Besides using the sound of words, we find onomatopoeia, and internal rhyme. I find it hard not to move with the poem as I read it.

The second poem is “The Bells,” by Edgar Allen Poe. I will give you one stanza and point you to the rest of the poem.

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Look  how many times Poe uses the letter i with its tighter sound, to reflect the silvery metal of the bells. Each of the other stanzas reflect a different metal and with each Poe changes the vowels he uses, to reflect the metal.

The last excerpt employs sensory imagery that made me fall in love with the poem. The poem is T. S. Eliot’s “Preludes

The winter evening settles down

by poppy's_baby

With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.

Count how many images are in the stanza and how many of those are sound. You should also find visual, taste, smell and touch. We will come back to this stanza later when we talk about punctuation [yep] and enjambment.

Tomorrow: freeforall day. See you there.


Posted by on 02/12/2010 in poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Thursday Takeaway

  1. booguloo

    02/12/2010 at 8:52 pm

    A quickie:
    Oval platters clatter under the weight of Sam the ham
    Crystal goblets just sparkled quite frankly not giving a dam
    Sterling ware aware ahead of cutting, sips and cramming
    Wine was poured the host did toast a boast before the droning
    Hoisted crystal finally sang lovely little rings and ding’s
    Overlapping belt lines strained in pain while the fat lady did sing.

  2. mroby

    03/12/2010 at 8:47 am

    Love all the internal rhyme and that you have fun.

  3. Music&Meaning

    03/12/2010 at 7:28 pm

    thanks for the note on sound color; i will check out Holcombe’s essay. RT

    • mroby

      03/12/2010 at 8:48 pm

      You are welcome and the essay is well-written. Not too complicated but enough to be helpful.

  4. markwindham

    30/01/2012 at 9:25 pm

    This one is still more unconscious for me. It is only on occasion that I work for a particular sound pattern … Something to work on

    • margo roby

      31/01/2012 at 7:34 am

      Sound has only become something I am conscious of, in the past couple of years, but boy is it important. I have a long way to go to be where Joseph is, but I’m on the road.


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