Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Poetry Challenge

The elementary school I attended was named for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. That may be one reason that I fell in love with much of Longfellow’s poetry. Mother used to read “The Wreck of the Hesperus” to me. It was dramatic and melancholy—and always held my attention to the end. And I was fascinated by the rhythm of “Evangeline" and "The Song of Hiawatha.” 

“The Children’s Hour” is one of my favorite Longfellow poems. Mother read or recited it to me, and I have recited it (or at least the last two stanzas) to my children and grandchildren.

The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
     When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
     That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
     The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
     And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
     Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
     And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
     Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
     To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
     A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
     They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
     O’re the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
     They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
     Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
     In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
     Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
     Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
     And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
     In the round-tower of my heart

And there I will keep you forever,
     Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
     And moulder in dust away!

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This poem is in the public domain.)

You can find a searchable list of Longfellow's poems at

Longfellow was highly honored in his day, but his work fell out of favor. In fact, rhyming poetry has fallen out of favor with many publishers, though there is some resurgence of interest in rhymed and metered forms.

Rhyming poems tend to be easier to memorize. Rhyme can often be used to good effect when the poet wants to be humorous, but it can also be used in more serious poetry.

The May Poetry Challenge:

The May Poetry Challenge is to write a poem with rhyme. You may use end rhyme or internal rhyme or both. You may choose to follow the rules of a form, such as a sonnet, strictly or loosely, write in quatrains (as in “The Children’s Hour”), or be more casual about the meter. You may use off- or slant-rhyme for at least some of the rhymes. The poem can be serious or humorous. If you use a form, please specify the form.

Your poem should be titled.

If your poem has been published you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet. Note that this is a change in the rules.

The deadline is May 15. Poems submitted after the 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 don’t stray too far from “family-friendly” language. No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet. If a winning poem is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”) . 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 (no pdf files, please). 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.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred. Also, if lines are too long, they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to use shorter lines.

© Wilda Morris