Saturday, September 30, 2006

1 | "Ensconced in tangles"       [ballade]

By now I know the newsprint
with its inkled smudges
I know night's darkled starglint
and Sunday's drugstore fudges
how the critique curmudges
peering through theory's hole
one thing still never budges
I do not know my soul

I know they claim by sheer dint
of love and will one trudges
through timely victory's end-sprint
with spacious winks and nudges
in briny waves one plunges
compelled by adventure's role
one mountain never budges
I do not know my soul

I know the Mojito's fresh mint
how snowwhite ends in sludges
I've spied the friendy-faced saint
confronted frightening cudgels
cut milk teeth in urban jungles
madly grasped at riverine shoals
tiptoed through classy bungles
alas   I don't know my soul

William I've heard of angels
floridly lauding source and goal
still I'm ensconced in tangles
candidly knowing not my soul


This is my first attempt at, essaying of, and enjoyment of writing in the ballade form. As may be easily recognized, it's based on the earlier-discussed ballade of Villon's and tips its hat to Merwin's superb poem as well. I note that Villon addresses the Prince in his Envoy. I don't know what prince that might be. Mine anyway is addressed to W.S.

Happy birthday.

I've stumbled on a likeable interview with WSM here (from April 2004, conducted as "an informal colloquium" at Stanford -- courtesy of Peter Y. Chou).

p.s.: now (after having written the above), I've managed to wrest from google another, rhymed translation of Villon's antecedent poem (translator not indicated, but first published in 1906). If the English rhyming properly follows the original, this suggests my analysis of the ballade rhyme-scheme may have been too simplistic. Ah, but G.K. Chesterton's ballade (offered as exemplary of the form in the Wikipedia) appears to confirm I have the pattern aright (even if [separate topic] I play slow yet a tad loose with some rhyme vowels toward poem's end).


Blogger Space Bar said...


visitng your blog after a long've been so prolific! it's an amazing amount of work.



Sat Sep 30, 04:58:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Nice to have your visit, Sridala. I see you've been rather blogo-prolific lately too!

Sat Sep 30, 11:01:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Among various tweaks and revisions to the ballade, one might be mentioned. Today, for a time, I changed the third couplet of the 2nd stanza to this form:
|| in brainy waves one plunges
|| if one can grok that role
-- but then thought better of it, when finding a more satisfying 2nd line (now in place) for the couplet
|| in briny waves one plunges
|| moved by adventure's role
(so, the line returned it to its original "briny," from the brief "brainy"). The new thought -- "moved by" -- of course leads into the final couplet of the stanza
|| one mountain never budges...
(unlike an earlier form of the line -- "if one can nab that role" -- more limited and unimaginative, less lyrical in its feeling and sense of suggestion, I'd say; less participative in wider balances in the poem). Differences of a few words make considerable differences in poetry -- one learns through the disciplines of revision.

Sometimes, as with this poem, revision might continue for a day or so after first posting.

Sat Sep 30, 07:16:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love what you've achieved with the ballade form, great tribute to Merwin.


Sun Oct 01, 05:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

thanks Pragya --

as may now be noted, turns out this was the first of several . . .

Wed Oct 04, 03:46:00 PM PDT  

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