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At the first of the year–and the end of the year–M.A. Lee always promotes the Think/Pro Planner for Writers. The planner offers daily incentives to track word counts and a project’s progression, with monthly and yearly reviews and previews to keep us advancing toward our publication goals.
For poetry lovers, we have a blog series called Poetry Lessons, guest-hosted by M.A. Lee. Visit our page on the 5ths (day 5, 15, and 25) to see which poem has inspired a lesson in thinking and writing. We’ll intersperse news about titles from Writers Ink as necessary.
first lesson is Don Marquis’ “Lesson of the Moth”.
New Year: a time of reflection, of re-charging, of resolving.
we analyze our lives, we consider our dreams and strive to turn those dreams
On my wall I have these Resolutions: “Dream. Believe. Do.”
What are Your Resolutions?
“Lesson of the Moth,” the philosophizing bug archy also considers
dreams. As a bug, archy can’t use the shift key to create capital
letters, and he ignores punctuation. Read on to see what archy learned
from another bug.
The Lesson of the Moth
was talking to a moth
was trying to break into
electric light bulb
fry himself on the wires
do you fellows
this stunt i asked him
it is the conventional
for moths or why
that had been an uncovered
instead of an electric
bulb you would
be a small unsightly cinder
you no sense
of it he answered
at times we get tired
get bored with the routine
we know that if we get
close it will kill us
what does that matter
is better to be happy
be burned up with beauty
to live a long time
be bored all the while
we wad all our life up
one little roll
we shoot the roll
is what life is for
is better to be a part of beauty
one instant and then cease to
than to exist forever
never be a part of beauty
attitude toward life
come easy go easy
are like human beings
to be before they became
civilized to enjoy themselves
before i could argue him
of his philosophy
went and immolated himself
patent cigar lighter
not agree with him
i would rather have
the happiness and twice
at the same time i wish
was something i wanted
badly as he wanted to fry himself
Don Marquis’ Resolutions with Free Verse
The structure of this poem helps to emphasize Marquis’ words. And I’m not talking about his gimmick with archy. Sometimes writers resort to gimmicks to get their ideas to the public, and Marquis certainly caught the public’s attention with his buggy archy and unusual capitalization and punctuation, much as e.e. cummings did.
structure am I talking about?
beauty of free verse is how lines can be manipulated to focus on certain words.
In stanza 2, the anaphora for “and crave beauty / and excitement” helps emphasize the moth’s desire.
Touches of alliteration throughout keep us focused on that desire: “close / kill”, “be / burned / beauty”, “live / long” and “be / bored” and “better / beauty”.
The reversed anastrophe “come easy go easy” reinforces the moth’s backward thinking: he doesn’t think like humans do now but as humans “used to”.
Contrasting “half the happiness and twice / the longevity” through the math of the line returns us to the logical human way of looking at things.
look at the last stanza, specifically the two lines that end with “i wish
/ i wanted”. Here is archy’s own desire, cast at the end of the
of the Moth” looks simple, but it is carefully crafted.
with anaphoras, alliteration, and anastrophes as you write both free verse and
pure verse. Your poems will tighten up structurally as well as begin to
focus your ideas.
Having trouble with your poetry? If you swore a resolution to improve your writing style, do check out Discovering Sentence Craft. This handy guidebook covers ideas both figurative and interpretive as well as structures like inversion, opposition, repetition, and sequencing. Find it here:
Over at The Write Focus, we bookcasting Think like a Pro: New Advent for Writers, by M.A. Lee.
We’ve looked at deadlines, One Scary Word, and daily writing with One Latin Phrase every writer should know.
What’s next? We have five (5!) parts to chapter 3, One Guiding Decision > Plot It.
We have the 7 types of plot along with the simple key that will drive the story. Every writer chooses from 5 (+1) of the plotting methods. Finally, we decide for Plotter or Pantster or Puzzler or … Muse Muffin!
Hey! Plot’s important. It’s the foundation of the whole story.
The first episode is at this link. Episodes premiere every Wednesday. Join us, then …