Friday, August 1, 2014

August 2015 Poetry Challenge

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), began writing poetry at age 12. He was refused admission to public school and university because he was a Roman Catholic at a time when Catholics were persecuted in England, so he was largely self-taught.
            When he was twelve, he suffered the onset of a serious bone deformity. It is believed that he had Pott’s Disease, a form of tuberculosis which results in a hunched back and breathing difficulties such as asthma. The disease left him frail and made him the butt of jokes. The same year, he wrote “Ode to Solitude,” his earliest surviving poem.
            I don’t know if Pope already was suffering from the effects of the disease when he wrote it, but if so, it might help explain why a twelve-year-old thought solitude a source of happiness.
Ode to Solitude
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
              In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
              In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind;
              Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
              With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
              Tell where I lie.
~ Alexander Pope
This poem is in the public domain.
August 2014 Poetry Challenge:
            Begin with a gender-free version of line one (“Happy the one. . . .” or “Happy those . . .,” etc.) unless the happiness you describe is gender specific. Or you could begin with “Happy am I . . . .”
            Or maybe you would rather not write about happiness – pick another adjective about a state of mind such as “Lonely the one who. . . .” “Miserable are those who . . . .” or “Amazed am I . . . .” Follow the pattern for starting the poem, but use your creativity.
            Write your version of what you think makes people (or men, or women, children, yourself, or some category of people, such as doctors, nurses, teachers) happy, lonely, miserable (or whatever). Note how Pope's takes a turn at the end - he applied it to himself. What turn will make your poem more interesting?
You can use Pope’s form, a different form, or free verse.
Submit only one poem. The deadline is August 15. Poems submitted after the August 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please use “family-friendly” language.
Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.
Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.
How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Be sure to provide your e-mail address. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.
Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.
© Wilda Morris