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Meaning and Form


Blog Posted:7/10/2009 7:48:00 AM
<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p><FONT face=Calibri>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><FONT face=Calibri>Recently I have been writing Tetractys, a form created by Ray Stebbing.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>The Tetractys has 20 syllables distributed over five lines as follows: 1-2-3-4-10.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN><o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p><FONT face=Calibri>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><FONT face=Calibri>There is another 20 syllable form that has long held my interest.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>It is a quatrain form derived from Chinese poetry and consists of 4 lines, each line containing 5 syllables, for a total of 20 syllables.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Some of the most famous poems in Chinese history are written in this form.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p><FONT face=Calibri>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><FONT face=Calibri>Both the Tetractys and the Chinese Quatrain, called Wujue in Chinese, have 20 syllables.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>What I find interesting is the difference in feeling that comes from their difference in form.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>With the Tetractys one starts with a single syllable/word, and the form gradually opens up, ending with a long, potentially lyrical, last line.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>This last line is half the length of the entire poem.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>With the Chinese Quatrain there is a steadiness of pace since each line is the same length.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Since each line is the same length, meaning and interest tends to be distributed over the entire poem, so there is not so much a feeling of leading to a final statement.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>Many Chinese Quatrain poems of the Wujue variety are landscape poems and it seems to me that the form is ideal for landscape because each line is, in a sense, an image in itself.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>In the Tetractys the feeling is more like traveling than observing.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p><FONT face=Calibri>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><FONT face=Calibri>It is difficult to pin down exactly what a poetic form means.<SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp; </SPAN>But the contrast between the Tetractys and the Chinese Quatrain form, both having the exact same number of syllables, gives us an opportunity to observe how form creates a certain kind of meaning all on its own.<o:p></o:p></FONT></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p><FONT face=Calibri>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN></P> <P style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt" class=MsoNormal><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p><FONT face=Calibri>&nbsp;</FONT></o:p></SPAN></P>
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  1. Date: 7/10/2009 9:31:00 AM
    Before Poetry Soup, I must say I resented "forms". I would ask, "How on earth can one fit their "emotions" in a form? Now after taking the plunge do to everyones wonderful contests; I realize IF one is aware of a # of forms, comfortable with them, then...one has the ability to "match" the content & emotion with a more appropriate form. Light & Love

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  1. Date: 7/10/2009 8:17:00 AM
    Hi Jim,One of the other two key features of Ray Stebbing's tetractys is that each line is 'to stand on its own' & the challenge is 'to express a complete thought' profound,comic, witty or wise.It can also be doubled,inverted etc.Stebbing's literary excecutor gave me permission to include one of Ray's originals in my 'SHORTHAND OF THE HEART' a selection of poetic form.isbn 1-903203-422 published by his QQ Press.Rgds Brian

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My Past Blog Posts

 
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