Hello dVerse Poets. I’m Kim of writinginnorthnorfolk.com. Welcome to Tuesday Poetics on this second day of May. This week I would like to take a brief look at dramatic monologues, specifically ‘The Laboratory’ by Robert Browning.
Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly,
May gaze thro’ these faint smokes curling whitely,
As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s-smithy—
Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?
He is with her, and they know that I know
Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow
While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear
Empty church, to pray God in, for them!—I am here.
Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste,
Pound at thy powder,—I am not in haste!
Better sit thus and observe thy strange things,
Than go where men wait me and dance at the King’s.
That in the mortar—you call it a gum?
Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come!
And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue,
Sure to taste sweetly,—is that poison too?
Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures,
What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures!
To carry pure death in an earring, a casket,
A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket!
Soon, at the King’s, a mere lozenge to give
And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live!
But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head
And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!
Quick—is it finished? The colour’s too grim!
Why not soft like the phial’s, enticing and dim?
Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir,
And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!
What a drop! She’s not little, no minion like me—
That’s why she ensnared him: this never will free
The soul from those masculine eyes,—say, “no!”
To that pulse’s magnificent come-and-go.
For only last night, as they whispered, I brought
My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought
Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall,
Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all!
Not that I bid you spare her the pain!
Let death be felt and the proof remain;
Brand, burn up, bite into its grace—
He is sure to remember her dying face!
Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose;
It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close:
The delicate droplet, my whole fortune’s fee—
If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me?
Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill,
You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will!
But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings
Ere I know it—next moment I dance at the King’s!
Image found on https://anthologypoems.wikispaces.com/The+Laboratory
This poem is made up of twelve four-line stanzas of rhyming couplets with a regular rhyme scheme of aabb, ccdd, eeff, etc. The basic metric unit is the anapest: two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable – da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM – but Browning doesn’t follow that rhythm in every single line; he mixes things up a little now and then.
The poem is a dramatic monologue in which the anti-heroine tells us how she plotted to poison her love rival with the help of a chemist, whom she paid to provide her with the means to a grisly death.
The challenge is to write a modern dramatic monologue about a plot to do away with someone (or something). You don’t have to write twelve stanzas, but I do ask that you emulate the form as closely as possible with regard to the rhyme scheme and metre. You can write from the point of view of a historical figure, such as Nero, a notorious poisoner, or a more modern non-fictional murderer; you might choose a fictional character or make up one of your own. Whatever you do, I want you to thrill me and chill me with your evil plans.
If you are new, here’s how to join in:
- Write a poem in response to the challenge;
- Enter a link directly to your poem and your name by clicking Mr Linky below;
- There you will find links to other poets, and more will join so check back to see more poems;
- Read and comment on other poet’s work, we all come here to have our poems read;
- Please link back to dVerse from your site/blog;
- Comment and participate in our discussion below, if you like. We are a friendly bunch of poets.
- Have murderous fun.
I look forward to reading some nasty, evil dramatic monologues.
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Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Good evening… a very challenging prompt… but I think this could be fun as well… I did my best in finding a “sweet” voice.
Ha! you got in first, Björn! I’m going to have a look at your ‘sweet-voiced’ monologue now!
Good evening, everyone, please step up to the bar. What’s your poison!
Nice prompt, Kim! I like the anapestic monologue format. I am still working on mine. Hopefully it will be ready later today.
I look forward to it, Frank! i’m hoping for dark and creepy.
It is ready! And I do love anapests, Bjorn!
I’m on my way!
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I knew you would love anapests… they are a pesky ones.
Again, I shall reiterate that I have never actually been to Anapest, and therefore am unsure and tentative in my use of the language. 😉 I hear the food is good, though.
Regardless, I followed the rhyme scheme, and I loved this prompt. Thanks, Kim! Making my rounds soon…
Thanks for making me chuckle this morning, De! Ir’s windy and rainy, and I’m thinking of moving to Anapest, trochees or no trochees!
Trochee skins make good umbrellas, for the record. They shed them often. All you have to do is wait a bit.
In about 20 minutes I will have to duck out for an hour but I hope to come back to chat and read more.
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paul scribbles said:
This prompt hurt my head. Not a natural feel for me to write in but I gave it a shot. I googled for help with the form and words like tetrameter, trimeter and iambic made things a whole lot worse. I was quite happy bumbling along not knowing what I was doing but now I know i don’t know what I’m doing it’s all gone a bit anapestic.
I’m just about to read it now – try to calm down, take a few breaths and the anapeskies will pass.
Classic form poetry is a challenge for any poet Paul ~ Some have a natural beat with words, which I envy ~ Me, I consult a rhyming dictionary, ha ~
I’ve never thought of using one of them – I’ll put one on my birthday list.
I like this site:
Thanks, De, I’ll bookmark that!
Oh, Paul. Wait’ll you meet the Trochees. Monsters, really. All of them. I usually just leave them all in the closet, with only accidental visits. 😉
Well, it’s gone 10.30 pm here and I must get ready for bed. But I’ll be up early to read more gruesome monologues. Good night dVerse poets. Sleep tight, don’t let the vampires bite.
paul scribbles said:
I think there are anapeskies under my bed!!!!!!
I hear honey water works for that. Grab a spray bottle. 😉 Or just stomp on ’em. And pray the Trochees don’t show up to help.
A five this morning there was a Mojo anapesky under our bed playing with a receipt from the recycling bin! Then she brought it onto the bed and tickled me under the nose with it. How could anyone not love cats?
LOL! I LOVE that anapesky. 🙂
Sleep well and see you tomorrow Kim ~
Thank you Grace. I was sleeping peacefully when Mojo decided to bring me one of her favourite toys – a receipt from the recycling bin. Rustle, rustle at five o’clock.
Bryan Ens said:
A challenging prompt, Kim. I love challenging prompts! 🙂
I am sure you would like this prompt Bryan ~ Thanks for joining in ~
I always enjoy reading poems produced from a challenging prompt – poets take longer to think about them because they often take them out of their comfort zones.
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Hey barkeep! I’ll have a Psycho Killer on the rocks, please. Fun prompt 🙂
Sure Jilly ~ Glad to see you joining our killer prompt ~
^^I have no idea what this is, but I’m now gonna need one, as I am thinking in rhyme couplets. And possibly Anapeskies, though I am still not sure. I think a tetrarch-dactyle might have snuck in there somewhere…
Well, it is bright red with rum & wine. It fits the prompt and kills all dinosaurs within one hundred yards 😉
Yessssss. We have chosen wisely, my fellow poet beast-slayer. I shall guard the left side, you the right. Cheers.
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Run run run run run run run away
Sing it! Actually, I think the drink got its name from the song.
This was a challenge indeed ~ Thanks Kim for hosting ~ Happy Tuesday everyone ~
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I wasn’t sure about this one, and then I got my ‘inspiration’ yesterday at work. I’m not sure I’ve quite voiced my level of disgust, not really comfortable at all. Creepy prompt.
Looking forward to reading it when I get back later this afternoon.
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