A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
Whilst I was off to the Middle Ages, I thought it would be nice to dabble in poetry that came from around the period I “live in” which is around 1430.
I’m in Italy and so I’ll introduce you to the “Canzone” made famous by Petrarch and Dante. Dante speaking of the “Canzone” said of it
“the most excellent Italian verse form, the one which is the worthy vehicle for those tragic compositions which treat the three noblest subjects: martial valor, love and moral virtue.”
There have been many variations on the theme and since Modern English isn’t Medieval Italian, I’ve chosen to introduce a more a modern variation of the Canzone to you and then add my own simplified variation because the original form (and indeed it’s variation) is rather a lot of work and pretty complex.
However, for the more ambitious here is the modern form in all it’s complexity – for the others just follow the instructions I’ve written for my variation after the poem:
A popular English Canzone – in the frame described by Robbin Skelton:
stanzaic, written in 5 stanzas of 12 lines each followed by a 5 line envoy.
meter at the discretion of the poet.
unrhymed. Instead of rhyme, 5 end words are repeated in a set pattern which was apparently carried over to the very first sonnets as written by 13th century Sicilian poet Giacomo da Lentini of the court of Frederick II.
stanza 1: ABAACAADDAEE (letters refer to repeated end words not rhyme)
stanza 2: EAEEBEECCEDD
stanza 3: DEDDADDBBDCC
stanza 4: CDCCECCAACBB
stanza 5: BCBBDBBEEBAA
When shall we learn, what should be clear as day,
We cannot choose what we are free to love?
Although the mouse we banished yesterday
Is an enraged rhinoceros today,
Our value is more threatened than we know:
Shabby objections to our present day
Go snooping round its outskirts; night and day
Faces, orations, battles, bait our will
As questionable forms and noises will;
Whole phyla of resentments every day
Give status to the wild men of the world
Who rule the absent-minded and this world.
We are created from and with the world
To suffer with and from it day by day:
Whether we meet in a majestic world
Of solid measurements or a dream world
Of swans and gold, we are required to love
All homeless objects that require a world.
Our claim to own our bodies and our world
Is our catastrophe. What can we know
But panic and caprice until we know
Our dreadful appetite demands a world
Whose order, origin, and purpose will
Be fluent satisfaction of our will?
Drift, Autumn, drift; fall, colours, where you will:
Bald melancholia minces through the world.
Regret, cold oceans, the lymphatic will
Caught in reflection on the right to will:
While violent dogs excite their dying day
To bacchic fury; snarl, though, as they will,
Their teeth are not a triumph for the will
But utter hesitation. What we love
Ourselves for is our power not to love,
To shrink to nothing or explode at will,
To ruin and remember that we know
What ruins and hyaenas cannot know.
If in this dark now I less often know
That spiral staircase where the haunted will
Hunts for its stolen luggage, who should know
Better than you, beloved, how I know
What gives security to any world.
Or in whose mirror I begin to know
The chaos of the heart as merchants know
Their coins and cities, genius its own day?
For through our lively traffic all the day,
In my own person I am forced to know
How much must be forgotten out of love,
How much must be forgiven, even love.
Dear flesh, dear mind, dear spirit, O dear love,
In the depths of myself blind monsters know
Your presence and are angry, dreading Love
That asks its image for more than love;
The hot rampageous horses of my will,
Catching the scent of Heaven, whinny: Love
Gives no excuse to evil done for love,
Neither in you, nor me, nor armies, nor the world
Of words and wheels, nor any other world.
Dear fellow-creature, praise our God of Love
That we are so admonished, that no day
Of conscious trial be a wasted day.
Or else we make a scarecrow of the day,
Loose ends and jumble of our common world,
And stuff and nonsense of our own free will;
Or else our changing flesh may never know
There must be sorrow if there can be love.
Canzone by Wystan Hugh Auden
I think we’ll do with just three stanzas (including the envoy) … the first or main stanza will be of 10 lines with 5 words repeated twice and the envoy will be a five-line stanza where each line ends with the repeated word introduced in your 10 line stanza starting with the last repeated word creating a ABCDE type envoy – You might want to change the position of your repeating words for each group of five … that’s fine just make sure that the envoy begins with your last repeated word and follows accordingly.
When the messenger arrives
Carrying his heavy missive
Who will hold my hand as I cry,
Knowing then, you are no more
For my life will have no more meaning?
What will I do when the message arrives?
How can I read that woeful missive,
How many tears must I then cry …
Until my tears are no more
Giving sadness a new meaning?
Yet you say there will be no missive
No sad tidings for which to cry
Just joyous news from you and no more
Giving new verve and meaning
To our love, when it arrives.
How I long for that glad missive
And with happiness would I cry …
For on that day to fear no more,
The sadness and loss of meaning,
If the report of your death arrives.
No matter what news arrives
This day of love will be our eternal missive.
Why cover my head in ashes and cry
I’ll think of a sad future no more
This night will fill me with new meaning!
© G.s.k. ‘15
Now for an inspirational photo for either your Shadorma or your Canzone:
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