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Meaning and Form, Again

Blog Posted:7/16/2009 6:45:00 AM

Meaning and Form, Again


I’ve been looking at poetic forms that have the same syllable count, but distribute the syllables differently.  In my previous blog post I compared the Tetractys (20 syllables: 1-2-3-4-10) to one type of Chinese Quatrain (20 syllables: four lines, five syllables per line).  Because of several contests here at Poetry Soup, I’ve been looking at Haiku and some of its variations.


The standard Haiku form is 17 syllables, over three lines: 5-7-5.  Denis Garrison developed two Haiku variations, he refers to them as “analogues”.  The first is the Cingku (17 syllables, five lines: 2-3-4-6-2).  The second is the Crystalline (17 syllables, 2 lines, one line of 8 syllables, the other line of 9 syllables).  And finally there is the Monoku, a one line form of Haiku.


What I find instructive is how the form shapes the meaning.  The Cingku has a feeling of cadence at the end, with its 2 syllable closing; in this it resembles the feeling of the Cinquain.  In contrast, the Crystalline seems to lend itself to a more open-ended ending, one that has the feeling that it could continue.  The Monoku lends itself easily to highly ambiguous word play and I think that is partially a function of all of it appearing on a single line.  And the traditional Haiku has a sense of balance with its two outer lines of the same length; it seems ideally suited to the topic of nature which is its traditional strength.




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Date: 12/29/2009 5:21:00 PM
I am still looking for your picture and blog.
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Date: 9/2/2009 6:31:00 PM
Informative, I am new to knowing all the forms of poetry, thank you
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Date: 8/12/2009 4:11:00 PM
thanks for the information I'm trying to try every form that this site has shown, but i must admit i have more interest in those type poetry(mostly cause I die out in longer poems in my opinion) must definitely give it try these forms you wrote about.
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Date: 7/20/2009 7:14:00 PM
Some of the writers here have an incredible "rhythm" to their poetry. It moves like a melody. Syllable counts, alliteration and rhyme all help to create this special rhythm. My hat's off to all who succeed in adhering to the rhythmic constraints of the various verse forms you describe, Jim. Very nice observations! Love, Carolyn
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Date: 7/16/2009 4:33:00 PM
Thanks for the informative responses. I recommend "Eight Shades of Blue", a really fine work. Deborah, I have no problem with free verse. I write it myself, now and then. I think, though, that there are lots of American poets who write well in short forms. Emily Dickinson is a good example. I think I mentioned in a previous post Richard Wright, a truly fine haiku writer. And Adelaide Crapsey, who created the Cinquain was also an American. Again, I'm not advocating short form verse or criticizing free verse, but for those of us interested in it such an approach seems to have many virtues. Hi Karen: I have a somewhat different view of modern English haiku. I think English haiku has become stuck in a minimalist esthetic that goes back to the late 50's and early 60's. My personal approach is that I'm willing to add a word or two for the sake of rhythm, form, and flow, even if it doesn't add anything extra in terms of message. Thanks again to all, Jim
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Date: 7/16/2009 4:01:00 PM
Thank you for sharing this interesting analysis. I like forms with syllables, however I've found the 5-7-5 version of haiku sometimes cumbersome. Too often meaningless words are added to get the count right. I have learned a lot from trying different forms. Those that have mastered terse verse have my admiration. I have read some work by Denis too, a truly talented writer. Thanks for sharing this with us. Karen
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Date: 7/16/2009 2:30:00 PM
i did not know this thank you =]
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Date: 7/16/2009 2:01:00 PM
I must say I just do not get it? The world is full of beautiful words, forming lyrical language, and daily technology pushes our youngsters toward abbreviation, texting foreshortening of language, raping of the lyrical line. OK, Japan is a small space, with small people, (HUGE minds) and so lends itself to restrained gestures. BUT, we in America land of the wide open spaces do not have a typical mindset to "foreshorten" anything? We wanted the biggest, loudest, shiniest, prettiest; we want the “est” of everything. I will not get behind this poetic rush to the limiting of language. I can haiku with the best of you but why do? If you 17 syllable me none of them best be..a..the..and..but.....just me. Light & Love
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Date: 7/16/2009 8:07:00 AM
Hi Jim,I was privileged to correspond with Denis a few years back on exactly this topic.His book Eight shades of Blue isbn 978-6151-4798-7 conrains many of his crystallines and the introduction is worth the 12.95US$ price.A very talented and learned poet who first sparked my interest in cinqku,crystalline and monoku.Rgds Brian
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My Past Blog Posts

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