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English Ballet


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English Verse

English Ballet is a term that I wrote in the margin of one of my Norton Anthologies next to 2 poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt. I don't usually make up names of forms or try to create forms where they never existed before so I had to have read or heard this term somewhere. In the note I scribbled, "English Ballet or dance song, pronounced ball-ett." In a subsequent search, I can't find the source of my note nor can I find any further reference to the term. The two poems have a unique frame which doesn't fit any other form description, therefore I can only assume I found direction from somewhere to these poems which some source recognized as the English Ballet. I include the poems below.

Some interesting facts I did find in my search however reveal that dance, particularly ballet was not prominent in England until the 19th century. Until then, the performing arts were usually plays, verse recitation and music with lyrics. Dance took a definitive back seat to the literary arts and was usually a supplement to verse, in mime or folk movement. Although, some courtiers enjoyed folk dance to entertain themselves. The 2 poems that I noted as English Ballets were written in the 16th century by Sir Thomas Wyatt who some call the father of English poetry. Wyatt didn't just write poetry, he studied it. His translations of Italian and French poetry gave him a wide knowledge of form and technique and he had to have been exposed to the French movement into the performing arts of the day which included rudimentary ballet. Wyatt's poems marked as English Ballets have a distinct French flavor and are similar to the French, Rondeau family of forms.

In studying the two poems I see patterns that I include here. The elements of the English Ballet are:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. (The quatrains can be expanded to quintains by breaking L1 of each stanza into 2 lines at the end of the first phrase.)
  2. metered, L1-L3 tetrameter, L4 dimeter. When expanding to quintains, L1,L2,L5 are dimeter, L3 & L4 are tetrameter.
  3. rhymed aaaB cccB dddB etc. or AbbbA AcccA AdddA etc.
  4. written with a rentrement, (a word, phrase or line usually at the beginning of the poem that is repeated as a refrain within the poem.) repeated from stanza to stanza in a chain.
Forget Not Yet     

FORGET not yet the tried intent
Of such a truth as I have meant;
My great travail so gladly spent,
Forget not yet!

Forget not yet when first began
The weary life ye know, since when
The suit, the service, none tell can;
Forget not yet!

Forget not yet the great assays,
The cruel wrong, the scornful ways,
The painful patience in delays,
Forget not yet!

Forget not! O, forget not this!—
How long ago hath been, and is,
The mind that never meant amiss—
Forget not yet!

Forget not then thine own approved,
The which so long hath thee so loved,
Whose steadfast faith yet never moved:
Forget not this!
            --------- Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)             











Is It Possible

Is it possible
That so high debate,
So sharp, so sore, and of such rate,
Should end so soon and was begun so late?
Is it possible?

Is it possible
So cruel intent,
So hasty heat and so soon spent,
From love to hate, and thence for to relent?
Is it possible?

Is it possible
That any may find
Within one heart so diverse mind,
To change or turn as weather and wind?
Is it possible?

Is it possible
To spy it in an eye
That turns as oft as chance on die,
The truth whereof can any try?
Is it possible?

It is possible
For to turn so oft,
To bring that lowest which was most aloft,
And to fall highest yet to light soft:
It is possible.

All is possible
Who so list believe.
Trust therefore first, and after preve,
As men wed ladies by licence and leave.
All is possible.
                       ---Sir Thomas Wyatt



~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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