Experiments in Form Part 6: More finger exercises

One thing that happens when working in a fixed meter is that the poem’s rhythm can start to sound forced. It can also give the poem a momentum which is hard to break; it makes short and elegant poems feel abrupt, simply because bringing the momentum to a close quickly is a challenging thing. One way of breaking with this is to vary the number of feet in each line; having shorter even numbered lines can help soften the impact of the rhythm and can give each pair of lines a nice resonance to them. It can also be good, when using something like a dactylic foot, with its three beats, to use incomplete feet at the start or finish of the line. The poem retains the neatness and flow that the rhythm gives it, while making it feel less forced. Here is one experiment with doing this:

My lord is the prince of all heavenly things, lifting
All that is lowly and broken and frail.
His hand gathers in and upraises my falling, my
Drooping, decaying and heavenless land.

His love is a song which springs forth with its feathers; it
Breaks through the clouds and the webs of my days.
His grace is a garment of many rich colours, a
Fabric of hope woven out of my shame.

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