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Brace Octave

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
English Verse

Brace Octave ------------------------------------------Bracejoining2musicalstaffs.gif

The Brace Octave has its roots in music. The brace is the wavey symbol that joins 2 staffs of music, indicating that both scores are played simultaneously. The verse form referred to as the Brace Octave is a lyrical blend of meter and rhyme, the rhyme scheme almost taking the shape of the brace. It could even be said that the octave itself acts as a brace joining two envelope quatrains.

The elements of the Brace Octave are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of octaves (8 lines) made up of 2 envelope quatrains. When writing more than one octave, even numbered stanzas grouped in twos seems to fit best with the venue of the form.
  2. metric, iambic tetrameter. Some sources indicate no meter necessary but given the musical nature of the verse, it seems to me measured lines are appropriate if not a prerequisite. The best known poem utilizing the Brace Octave is Two Songs from a Play by W.B. Yeats which is written in iambic tetrameter so I guess Mr. Yeats agrees with me.
  3. rhymed, with an envelope rhyme scheme abbacddc (see it does sort of look like a brace lying down.)

    Here is William Butler Yeats' poem which was published in his book The Tower in 1928. There is a footnote from Yeats "These songs were sung by musicians in my play Resurrection."

    Two Songs from a Play by William Butler Yeats                      
    I saw a staring virgin stand
    Where holy Dionysus died,
    And tear the heart out of his side.
    And lay the heart upon her hand
    And bear that beating heart away;
    Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
    And then did all the Muses sing
    As though God's death were but a play.

    Another Troy must rise and set,
    Another lineage feed the crow,
    Another Argo's painted prow
    Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
    The Roman Empire stood appalled:
    It dropped the reins of peace and war
    When that fierce virgin and her Star
    Out of the fabulous darkness called.
    In pity for man's darkening thought
    He walked that room and issued thence
    In Galilean turbulence;
    The Babylonian starlight brought
    A fabulous, formless darkness in;
    Odor of blood when Christ was slain
    Made all platonic tolerance vain
    And vain all Doric discipline.

    Everything that man esteems
    Endures a moment or a day.
    Love's pleasure drives his love away,
    The painter's brush consumes his dreams;
    The herald's cry, the soldier's tread
    Exhaust his glory and his might:
    Whatever flames upon the night
    Man's own resinous heart has fed.

    Shiprock by Barbara Hartman

    The People called it Rock-With-Wings,
    a sacred place, the legends say,
    mythic home for huge birds of prey.
    Like Harpies they did evil things.
    When Monster Slayer cleansed the earth
    evil ones were turned into good,
    songs sung again the way they should,
    rains fell once more till streams gave birth.

    Anglos saw a ship in the sand,
    shimmering on a desert sea.
    The clipper sailed above the scree,
    tall basalt masts rose from the land.
    The jagged pinnacle remains,
    formed by an ancient magma flow
    from forty million years ago
    when molten lava scoured the plain.












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