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Invented Forms Patterned After Works of American Poets

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Explore the Craft of Writing
American Verse
Invented Forms

Viola Berg, in her book Pathways for the Poet1977, includes invented forms patterned after some works of American poets.

  • The Bryant describes observations of nature as metaphor for the social and political world around us. This stanzaic form is patterned after To A Water Foul by American poet, William Cullen Bryant 1794- 1878.  The elements of the Bryant are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any # of quatrains
    2. metered, L1,L4 trimeter and L2,L3 are pentameter. Short lines are indented.
    3. rhymed, alternating rhymed quatrains, abab cdcd etc
    4. a pastoral metaphor

      A Water Foul by William Cullen Bryant                                 

      Whither, 'midst falling dew, 
      While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
      Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
      Thy solitary way?
      Vainly the fowler's eye
      Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
      As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
      Thy figure floats along.

      Seek'st thou the plashy brink
      Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
      Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
      On the chafed ocean side?

      There is a Power whose care
      Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,--
      The desert and illimitable air,--
      Lone wandering, but not lost.

      All day thy wings have fanned
      At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere:
      Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
      Though the dark night is near.

      And soon that toil shall end,
      Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
      And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend
      Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.

      Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
      Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
      Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
      And shall not soon depart.

      He, who, from zone to zone,
      Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
      In the long way that I must tread alone,
      Will lead my steps aright.

      Nursery by Judi Van Gorder

      The hornet builds its nest
      with honeycomb precision, spit in turn
      is woven into cells, a silken breast
      to suckle, birth discerned.





















  • The Taylor is an invented form, patterned from Upon a Spider Catching a Fly by Edward Taylor (1642-1729) who some call the finest colonial poet although his work was not published until 1939. A puritan poet, his poems are lyrical and yet reflect a staunch Calvanist tone.  The elements of the Taylor are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of cinquains.
    2. metric, iambic, L1 trimeter, L2 and L4 dimeter, L3 tetrameter, L5 monometer.
    3. rhymed or at least near rhymed ababb cdcdd efeff etc.

      Upon a Spider Catching a Fly by Edward Taylor

      Thou sorrow, venom elf.
      Is this thy play,
      To spin a web out of thyself
      To catch a fly?
      For why?

      I saw a pettish wasp
      Fall foul therein,
      Whom yet thy whorl pins did not clasp
      Lest he should fling
      His sting.

      But as afraid, remote
      Didst stand here at
      And with thy little fingers stroke
      And gently tap
      His back.

      Thus gently him didst treat
      Lest he should pet,
      And in a froppish waspish heat
      Should greatly fret
      Thy net.

      Whereas the silly fly,
      Caught by its leg,
      Thou by the throat took'st hastily
      And 'hind the head
      Bite dead.

      This goes to pot, that not
      Nature doth call.
      Strive not above what strength hath got
      Lest in the brawl
      Thou fall.

      This fray seems thus to us:
      Hell's spider gets
      His entrails spun to whipcords' thus,
      And wove to nets
      And sets,

      To tangle Adam's race
      In's stratagems
      To their destructions, spoiled, made base
      By venom things,
      Damned sins.

      But mighty, gracious Lord,
      Thy grace to break the cord; afford
      Us glory's gate
      And state.

      We'll Nightingale sing like,
      When perched on high
      In glory's cage, Thy glory, bright,
      And thankfully,
      For joy.

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