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Narcissus & Echo - by John William Waterhouse

Narcissus & Echo – by John William Waterhouse

Hello Friends,

Today for Meeting the Bar I would like to introduce a form that I first saw a couple weeks ago.  The form is called “Echo Verse.”  An Echo Verse is a poem where the last word or syllable in a line is repeated or echoed underneath to form a rhyming line.  I saw it for the first time when Sanaa Rizvi used it to write her poem  Acceptance.  If you read her poem (and I hope you will), it is a good example of how the form works.

I also present to you the poem “Heaven,” a poem by George Herbert, a Welsh-born English poet who lived from 1593-1633.  This is an excellent example of an Echo Verse.  (I’ve kept the original spelling.) An example sometimes works better than a complex explanation.

Heaven
O who will show me those delights on high?
Echo.         I.
Thou Echo, thou art mortall, all men know.
Echo.         No.
Wert thou not born among the trees and leaves?
Echo.         Leaves.
And are there any leaves, that still abide?
Echo.         Bide.
What leaves are they? impart the matter wholly.
Echo.         Holy.
Are holy leaves the Echo then of blisse?
Echo.         Yes.
Then tell me, what is that supreme delight?
Echo.         Light.
Light to the minde : what shall the will enjoy?
Echo.         Joy.
But are there cares and businesse with the pleasure?
Echo.         Leisure.
Light, joy, and leisure ; but shall they persever?
Echo.         Ever.

Another Echo Verse is  “A Gentle Echo on Woman” by Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish poet who lived from 1667-1745.   It follows:

A Gentle Echo on Woman
In The Doric Manner
Shepherd. Echo, I ween, will in the woods reply,
And quaintly answer questions: shall I try?
Echo. Try.
Shepherd. What must we do our passion to express?
Echo. Press.
Shepherd. How shall I please her, who ne’er loved before?
Echo. Before.
Shepherd. What most moves women when we them address?
Echo. A dress.
Shepherd. Say, what can keep her chaste whom I adore?
Echo. A door.
Shepherd. If music softens rocks, love tunes my lyre.
Echo. Liar.
Shepherd. Then teach me, Echo, how shall I come by her?
Echo. Buy her.
Shepherd. When bought, no question I shall be her dear?
Echo. Her deer.
Shepherd. But deer have horns: how must I keep her under?
Echo. Keep her under.
Shepherd. But what can glad me when she’s laid on bier?
Echo. Beer.
Shepherd. What must I do when women will be kind?
Echo. Be kind.
Shepherd. What must I do when women will be cross?
Echo. Be cross.
Shepherd. Lord, what is she that can so turn and wind?
Echo. Wind.
Shepherd. If she be wind, what stills her when she blows?
Echo. Blows.
Shepherd. But if she bang again, still should I bang her?
Echo. Bang her.
Shepherd. Is there no way to moderate her anger?
Echo. Hang her.
Shepherd. Thanks, gentle Echo! right thy answers tell
What woman is and how to guard her well.
Echo. Guard her well.

If  you think that this form is difficult and are nervous about giving it a try, take a look at a young writers’ site, where the form is explained very simply & a very approachable example is given:  Young Writers – Echo Verse Explanation & Example.

There is also another example: Echo Verse Without the Word Echo for anyone who does not wish to use the actual word ‘echo’ in their poem, though I have not seen many examples of this kind of echo verse.

I hope you will take some time to experiment with this form & then share with us what you have come up with.  Be sure to follow the “echo” format, as shown in each of the examples.  Alternate the ‘echo’ lines with the longer lines. Limit the poems to 40 total lines (20 main lines & 20 echo lines) at the most, and use not more than one picture.

What to do after you have written:

• Post your poem to your blog

• Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below

• Read and comment on other people’s work to let them know it’s being read

• Share via your favorite social media platforms

• Above all- have fun!