Poem Tryouts: ‘Tis Still a Mystery

13 Aug

7:32 a.m. — Atlantaquestion

listening to a tinny [sigh] I’m Just a Country Boy by Harry Belafonte [sublime]

Hullo, all. Guess what happens when I actually look at my summer calendar? I discover that my topic for this week is not a mystery, but found poetry. Uh huh. Just now, as I was checking to see what next week’s topic is, so excuse me while I scramble.

And, rescramble. While looking at the examples of found poetry I have saved for this post, I realised that they belong to others’ and I need to ask them if I may use their poems. Yes, it takes a while for my brain to return to its normal. So, where was I? Ah, yes, mystery

This post’s topic has a history. It began when Barbara sent me her design for the summer calendar. I had sent her topics for ten weeks, the amount of time I would be gone. She, thankfully, added August’s final two weeks as Mystery and More Mystery. Deep in my subconscious the gears began. Forward to a week ago, when I realised I had to fill the slot. The gears shifted into higher mode. That is, my brain knew I was going to call on it and started paying attention to possibilities. Other than that, I had no idea. Then, a couple of you, in comments, said something about the mystery of the upcoming prompt and I had it.

Why would I not choose the word itself? The etymology is fascinating, as etymologies tend to be, for the parts I didn’t know rather than those I always had. Our prompt lies in the meanings of the word during its history.

mystery, n. 1

early 14c., in a theological sense, “religious truth via divine revelation, hidden spiritual significance, mystical truth,” from Anglo-French misterie; Old French mistere “secret, mystery, hidden meaning”; from Latin mysterium “secret rite, secret worship; a secret thing”; from Greek mysterion”secret rite or doctrine,” from mystes “one who has been initiated,” from myein “to close, shut” perhaps referring to the lips (in secrecy) or to the eyes (only initiates were allowed to see the sacred rites).

Meaning “detective story” first recorded in English 1908.

mystery, n. 2

“handicraft, trade, art”, late 14c., from Medieval Latin misterium, alteration of Latin ministerium “service, occupation, office, ministry” influenced in form by Medieval Latin mysterium and in sense by maistrie “mastery.”

or put more simply: anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown;
any affair, thing, or person that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation;
a novel, short story, play, or film whose plot involves a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end;
obscure, puzzling, or mysterious quality or character;
any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.

Okay? Your spark can come from the definitions, your application can be personal, or universal. You might write about a wonder you remember from childhood. If you want to ratchet up the difficulty level, write as that child. You might write about a mystery in events that happen now and choose to write in the form of a poetic letter to the editor. The mystery can be real or abstract, big or small. If you aren’t sure, list all the things that are mysteries to you and go from there.

Me? The greatest mystery for me, at the moment, is how the brain works. I am thinking of taking my focus on the brain and taking it through all the etymological meanings from the first source, above. I am particularly taken with the news that the word mystery is a spin-off from minister. Possibilities brew.

I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for the weekly roundup; and next Tuesday, I hope we are finding — otherwise it’s even more mystery.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 13/08/2013 in exercises, poetry, writing


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31 responses to “Poem Tryouts: ‘Tis Still a Mystery

  1. julespaige

    13/08/2013 at 9:29 am

    I’m going to pluck from something already written…(I don’t feel all that terrible using something I wrote yesterday!) Well because where we all came from is a mystery too. So enjoy this prompted piece from Miz Q:

    Do pop in at Miz Q’s and see Gussie.

    • margo roby

      16/08/2013 at 8:37 am

      Ack! I’m behind. Be over shortly, Jules.

  2. barbara_

    13/08/2013 at 10:32 am

    I see Jules and I had the same idea. I’ll try to come up with something else, but until then

  3. barbara_

    13/08/2013 at 10:57 am

    I think theater in English begins with Mystery Plays, that weird place where sacred and profane confuse one another. Don’t know how long it took me to realize that there was no who-done-it.

    • margo roby

      16/08/2013 at 8:42 am

      Lordy I had forgotten those. I like the image of you sitting and waiting for the detective to arrive and reveal all. Grin.

  4. Carol Carlisle

    13/08/2013 at 3:26 pm

    I’m slow writing today but here is a link to my favorite “mystery” song Let the Mystery by Iris Dimint

    • Debi

      14/08/2013 at 5:09 pm

      Absolutely loved that! Thank you for posting it.

    • margo roby

      16/08/2013 at 8:39 am

      I love little things like this in the comments, that make me happy AND entertain!

  5. julespaige

    13/08/2013 at 4:29 pm

    Barbara made me do it… Well at least now I can go and look at her second piece.
    Hey…great minds think alike so why was I hanging my head in mock shame?

    • margo roby

      16/08/2013 at 8:40 am

      Darned if I know, Jules. I’ll be over in a bit for this one, too.

  6. Ruth

    13/08/2013 at 5:35 pm

    Mysteries, hmm… You might think mine more suited to your previous prompt, which I myst- er, missed 😉

    • barbara_

      14/08/2013 at 12:50 pm

      Don’t know if my comment worked on your blog, Debi, but I like that form you used. Just enough repetition without beating you over the head. What’s it called?

      • Debi

        14/08/2013 at 1:13 pm

        Flexonelle. Our writing group leader gave it to us several months ago. It is a hard form for me. I don’t usually like repetition unless it can be done in an unobtrusive way but maybe that defeats the purpose?

    • Debi

      14/08/2013 at 1:09 pm

      • margo roby

        16/08/2013 at 8:52 am

        Two poems! Thank you. I am so happy you have jumped in this particular pool, Debi. I saw your poem over at Joseph’s, too.

  7. markwindham

    13/08/2013 at 9:34 pm

    I will jump on the bandwagon with a previous piece, a short bit of “fun”. Be sure to read the Tretheway piece if you have not before.

    I have another niggling which is more to the point of the prompt (no, really)..have to see if it will sit still long enough to be groomed. Crazy busy this month. Not complaining, but stupid busy.

    • margo roby

      16/08/2013 at 8:53 am

      Just don’t lose the niggle. Remember to breathe.

  8. Hannah Gosselin

    14/08/2013 at 7:57 am

    Well, this went in an unexpected direction…but since I invested too much time in that direction I’m hesitant to do-over…any way, is what it is.

    Thank you for the challenge, Margo! 🙂

    • margo roby

      16/08/2013 at 8:54 am

      I’m so glad you didn’t do over. I love the unexpected directions poems take us, sometimes.

      • Hannah Gosselin

        16/08/2013 at 11:50 am

        Yes, you’re right, Margo…I’m glad I didn’t either…sometimes the ones that hurt the most to write are just what we “need” to write. :)’s Thank you!


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