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Thread: How to write a good poem?

  1. #1
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    How to write a good poem?

    I really want to write a beautiful poem please help

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    Last edited by adrienne2242; 12-29-2017 at 10:14 PM.

  2. #2
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    First of all, welcome to LitNet, Adrienne.
    I am not replying to this question because I am a noted poet, lol. Certainly not. I, too, strive to write 'a beautiful poem'.
    I think that one needs to not fear writing. Just write.
    When you post your work here, be open for criticism, don't let your feelings get in the way. We have awesome poets here, and those with good scholarly advice. Take it!
    I was once told that to write well, one needs to read a LOT. So maybe absorb as much poetry as you can and then let go your fear and write!
    I look forward to your sharing here.
    Kizzo
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

  3. #3
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    First there is no magic formula and the bottom line is any value placed on what you write is given by the reader not the writer. I would start by saying read poetry, it will only cost your time and its only a finger tip away. But a word of warning, I suggest that you confine your reading to poets around in the past hundred years , I don’t think that the world is ready yet for a second coming of a Byron or Keats.
    Like any other form of writing the question you must ask yourself is who are you writing for? For example, much of what’s taught in creative writing classes centres on the Modernist or the post Modernist poetry. If you are interested to write for a much wider audience I would advise you not to write in that style as much of it will pass your intended readers by.

    Also read bad poetry that’s on the net too. Love poetry is probably the subject for most poems but easily the most difficult in which to write anything fresh to the readers eye. It can contain hugh spoonfuls of personal emotion that the reader could drown in. Clichés in every other line etc. and its all been said before.

    I’ll leave it there, I am sure that you will get other help here.
    Best of luck John.

  4. #4
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Hi Adrienne! My poems aren't very good (I don't post many of them here) so I may be the wrong person to ask. But quite a bit depends on the kind of poem you want to write. I love comic verse, so I usually use an overdone or playful meter with lots of internal rhyme (rhymes in the middle of a line as well as the end). I add a mock-serious tone and try to include some kind of joke or irony so people have something to laugh over.

    On the other hand, when I want to write a sad poem, I'll use and repeat round-lip vowel sounds (like "oh") which create a mournful, somewhat echoing sound. Repeating vowel sounds is called assonance. It's a powerful tool that can be used for serious or comic effect. Consider the phrase "More mournful than death is a ghost's fallen glory" (which I just made up). Even if you didn't understand the words, you could still hear the mournful tone of the repeating vowel sounds. Compare that to "Swipe the diaper, Mikey!" or "Drink the green ink, Phoebe!" which have comical sounds assisting their overall silliness. Consider the repeating vowel sounds in these famous verses from Shakespeare, delivered by Macbeth when he learns his wife has killed herself:

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    Note that the poet does not drown the reader/audience in the assonance but spreads it throughout the soliloquy, as if waves of sorrow were washing over the speaker (he is also in a castle that is starting to feel empty, so the echoing sounds are especially effective). They are linked together by a second literary devise you should be aware of (and use), called alliteration; that is, the repetition of consonant sounds in close proximity (usually at the beginning of words). Here it provides a tick tick tick sort of sound that (in my view) the poet uses to suggest a clock moving inexorably forward (in support of a speech about the inevitability of death and the futility of life. Consider it again with attention to Shakespeare's consonant sounds:

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    But be careful with alliteration. It's easy to over use it, and the results can be unfortunate. Shakespeare actually mocked that kind of bad poetry in one of his comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bottom, a comically vain actor, is performing in a really bad play. His character has gone to meet his lover by moonlight but instead of her he finds her blood-covered mantle (immediately causing him to commit suicide). His lines are:

    Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
    I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
    For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
    I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.
    But stay, O spite!
    But mark, poor knight,
    What dreadful dole is here!
    Eyes, do you see?
    How can it be?
    O dainty duck! O dear!
    Thy mantle good,
    What, stain'd with blood!
    Approach, ye Furies fell!
    O Fates, come, come,
    Cut thread and thrum;
    Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!

    Okay, never write a poem like that and you will be ahead of the game. So assonance and alliteration are two powerful tools for a beginning poet. And there are other arrows in a poet's quiver, too. I think some are listed on a thread here, but you could also do a search for poetic literary devices and see what you turn up. They are fun to learn and use.

    So the sound you use create a response in the reader's mind. You said you wanted to write a beautiful poem. So ask yourself what sounds you find beautiful--then use them. You could do the same thing for sad or funny poetry. It frees you to write whatever you want.

    The other thing you need to to write effective poetry do is to put images (vivid pictures) into your readers mind. This is done with figures of speech such as metaphors and similes (I assume you know what those are). Without them (in my opinion), you are really only writing a kind of self-important prose. Note how many metaphors Shakespeare piles into Macbeth's soliloquy: time is not passing but creeping; past time has lighted fools to death (it means walking beside them with a candle so they can see where they are going); Macbeth's wife's short life (and ours) is a brief candle; life is a bad actor that goes through the motions and then is gone forever: it's all something an idiot would tell you--seemingly important but in fact utterly empty. Not bad for ten lines!

    In the beautiful poem you want to write, think of each figure of speech as a rose in a bouquet. The arrangement, that's the sound, but the blossoms are the images. See how easy metaphors are?

    There is also meter, which is (some say) optional. Many prefer free verse, in which there is no meter or (in good free verse) the meter is subtle or varied for effect. As a writer of comic verse, I can't do without meter. I use it for serious verse, too, but I treat a little like dancing. I'll find something that does the trick, but I'lł change it around here and there for emphasis. I subscribe to the Rickie Lee Jones theory that you can't break the rules unless you know how to break the game. Unfortunately many poets who don't use meter secretly don't know the rules. You can do better than that. So can they.

    There are several metrical types and learning them takes time and practice. You will have to do that on your own. I will do you a favor, though, and show you a down and dirty way to learn iambic pentameter--the meter for sonnets and blank verse, and the meter Shakespeare used. And best of all, it's simple: it naturally follows the cadence of English speech. Here goes:

    /ba BA/ ba BA/ ba BA/ ba BA/ ba BA/

    That's it. Welcome to the Eleusinian mysteries.

    And if that's not practical enough, just put the following lines (from the start of the Merchant of Venice) to memory and say them to yourself before beginning a metrical poem:

    in SOOTH, i KNOW not WHY i AM so SAD:
    it WEARies ME; you SAY it WEARies YOU.

    Remember though that if you write in unbroken iambic pentameter, your poem could sound dull or even ridiculous. Look back at the Macbeth soliloquy. Of the ten lines, only four lines, spread among the others, are in perfect iambic pentameter. The rest are close, but they have been bent according to the poet's needs. Now look at the first four lines of Bottom's speech from Midsummer Night's Dream. They are metrically perfect (after that he looses it badly) but they are also inane-sounding rubbish. See what I mean about learning the rules so you can break them? It's important to make a poem your own.

    I'll give you one more piece of advice before going on my way. If you want to master sound, image, and iambic meter, READ SHAKESPEARE CONSTANTLY--out loud if at all possible. Listen to recordings, too, and watch the movies. You don't have to imitate his style (you should develop your own style). But as Mozart is supposed to have said about Bach's music: At last here is someone I can learn from.

    Oh, and I look forward to seeing your beautiful poem, which I have no doubt will be lovely. Please post it here, okay?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 11-27-2017 at 09:10 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  5. #5
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    Some great observation and advice here so far.

    Another observation: my own best lines always have easily identifiable rhythms, as opposed to being vague or imperfect. It just turns out that way. I may have had no clear rhythmic intentions at the time, but the best lines are always set in clear rhythm.

    Perfect poems come in every shorter length, from one line up.

  6. #6
    A User, but Registered! tonywalt's Avatar
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    I'd say this is how you write:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0wwLXmYN2A

  7. #7
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonywalt View Post
    I'd say this is how you write:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0wwLXmYN2A
    WOW!
    Good motivational ad indeed.
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

  8. #8
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    Wow that Youtube video that was previously posted was good. But my advice to you is that, always pay attention to your style of writing. Your style is what defines you and makes you distinct from others. It's what makes your poem beautiful. I recommend you read the Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It's very useful as a reference!

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