“Form” –A Spenserian Stanza by Paul Burgess
One afternoon a man began to write
Some formal verse to see if form’s constraints
Would force his waking brain to bring to light
The visions that the brain while sleeping paints—
Those vivid dreams to which medieval saints
Still owe their lasting literary fame.
Though many times one finds restriction taints
The Muses’ spring with more of what’s “the same,”
It might elicit novel thoughts from minds less tame.
[This is a reflection on the fact that over half of what I write is inspired by words that coincidentally rhyme, start with the right letter, or have a convenient number of syllables. In other words, form can inspire people to combine words and concepts in new ways. I think that form feels restrictive to those who write a piece to express a specific idea; but, when used for the pure fun of playing with words, form can force people to surprise themselves. Strangely enough, I often find that word associations inspired by form bring to life the sort of bizarre combinations that one might normally find only in dreams.]
P.S. When writing the poem above, I had no idea what I would say. As usual, I decided that I felt like writing a poem, I chose a form (in this case, the Spenserian stanza), and started writing…