Sunday, April 8, 2007

And Verse

In prose its a stray sentence or phrase that makes me take notice. In poetry, it's a verse. Quite often, a couple lines of verse will endear the entire poem to me.

I adore Robert Frost for just this reason. Quite often, it's the last couple of lines of his that stay with me, such as the last line of "Mending Wall": He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors." In "Nothing Gold Can Stay," however, it is the first couple of lines that stay with me: Nature's first green is gold,/Her hardest hue to hold.

In Frost's "Death of the Hired Man," the lines come in the middle of the poem, and while they don't look like they have much to do with what is going on in the poem, which is a conversation between a farmer and his wife about the sudden appearance of an old man who isn't the best hired help, it actually ties in with a quietness that I prefer in poems: Part of a moon was falling down the west,/Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.

I've been accused, quite often and rightly so, of injecting too many poetics into my prose writing. I started my writing life as a poet, though, and while I'm not as active a poet as I once was, it is still my first love in writing. Anytime I read a poetic verse that would be just as powerful in a story as in a poem, I want to cheer. Frost uses them masterfully, and I would recommend reading Frost to any writer who enjoys writing not only for the story and the characters, but those rare moments of capturing a truly powerful sentence on the page.

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