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Practice with amphimacers

Michael Burton

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Michael Burton

As the title suggests, this poem was my attempt to insert amphimacers (or cretics) into iambic trimeter in a regular pattern.

Negative forty Fahrenheit
Cools the limbs with morbid fright.
Fast in chill, Arctic winds reblow,
Parting deep the sluggish snow.
Fiercer gale skates a frozen lake;
Dauntless yet I wait, awake,
        With negative forty Fahrenheit.

Donning axe, parka too, emerge,
Onward press’d by ancient urge,
Braving icefields and polar beasts,
Tracking stars to east-north-east,
Silently I forget my rest.
Waning moon, don’t scorn my quest
        In negative forty Fahrenheit.

Near at last I a glance can steal,
Sating some my boiling zeal,
Seeing foam, bubbling, bursting brim,
Savior from a deathfrost grim.
Cauldrons rare hoard their waters hot;
Slipping in makes hatred naught
         For negative forty Fahrenheit.

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Michael,   Wow....  The poem is great!   The content interesting, unique and evolves fluidly.   Other than on TV or in a movie, I've seen snow only a couple of times and then only fleetingly    So this was a very different experience for me.

Love these images.    "parting deep the sluggish snow"   "Donning axe, parka too,"   

The frame is clean, clear and appropriate for the content.  I really loved the rhythm and the repetition.   "Negative forty Fahrenheit"  "tracking stars to east north east"  "Savior form a death frost grim."
The meter is so very right for this but I think your title detracts from the poem.   The content comes first, the elements of the frame are the delivery system.  The title draws the reader in and the talk of meter could easily send someone away and they will miss the experience of reading your skillfully constructed piece.  

There are those here much more knowledgeable on meter than I.  I scanned many lines as trochaic rather than iambic but I am not an expert.  For those unfamiliar amphimacer = a metric foot of long-short-long or stressed-unstressed-stressed syllables.  The workshop is where we hash out metric stuff normally but this poem is so clean it is showcase ready.  


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Michael Burton


Thank you for the detailed response. Glad to hear you enjoyed the poem! I grew up in the Midwest so snow is very familiar to me. About the title: I didn't want to call it "Negative Forty Fahrenheit" and I couldn't think of anything else, but I think you're absolutely right. Looks like I have some thinking to do.

As for the meter, here's how I conceived it: each stanza contains three couplets and a final line, all trimeter. The first line in each of the couplets is two amphimacers and an iamb, while the second line is an amphimacer and two iambs. The final line is like the first of each couplet but with an extra unstressed syllable in front (I think it's called "anacrusis").

And thanks for telling me about the workshop. I'll check that out for sure.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Showcase ready indeed!

Perfect example of message tied to form, and form tied to message. I also loved the slightly-changed but repeated last line of each stanza.

PS I hate snow.  :)

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