Hello Everyone – in January, my thoughts have already turned to endings. Not surprising perhaps since the two-faced Janus keeps an eye out for what was, as well as what will be. But it was not a Greek god that had me pondering on finales but an Egyptian pharaoh aka Ozymandias. This poem by Shelley was one I’d learnt by heart long ago and yet reciting it to myself recently, realized I had forgotten the final lines. Instead, memory terminated with that inscribed epitaph:
“And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
But Shelley does not finish so abruptly, giving us instead a taste of something eternal:
“ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
And just as I was re-reading Shelley, Eliot interjected with his paradoxical and chiasmic conclusion to ‘East Coker’:
“…We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning”
There is much advice out there on how to write an ending to a poem and perhaps the best is not to make it too crushingly final. Better the ouroboric repetition rather than the guillotined cut off. But since poems are to be heard, it is surely the sounds the words make, as much as their meanings, that make the ending a satisfactory one – just as in a piece of music!
Even poems about endings leave something to be continued, “to be still and still moving” as Eliot says. Here is Mark Strand’s “The End”
“Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.
When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky
Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.”
Conversely, Brooke speaks much of finalities in The Beginning, terminating with an endless reverie:
“…My eager feet shall find you again,
Though the sullen years and the mark of pain
Have changed you wholly; for I shall know
(How could I forget having loved you so?),
In the sad half-light of evening,
The face that was all my sunrising.
So then at the ends of the earth I’ll stand
And hold you fiercely by either hand,
And seeing your age and ashen hair
I’ll curse the thing that once you were,
Because it is changed and pale and old
(Lips that were scarlet, hair that was gold!),
And I loved you before you were old and wise,
When the flame of youth was strong in your eyes,
— And my heart is sick with memories.”
Dean Young swirls temporality around in Bronzed but condenses eternity into the here and now with a nice touch of mirroring in the final couplet:
“….And the bus-station’s old urinals go under
the grindstone and the youthful spelunkers
graduate into the wrinkle-causing sun. The sea
seemingly a constant to the naked eye is one
long goodbye, perpetually the tide recedes,
beaches dotted with debris. Unto each is given
a finite number of addresses, ditties to dart
the heart to its moments of sorrow and swoon.
The sword’s hilt glints, the daffodils bow down,
all is temporary as a perfect haircut, a kitten
in the lap, yet sitting here with you, my darling,
waiting for a tuna melt and side of slaw
seems all eternity I’ll ever need
and all eternity needs of me.”
So for this Poetics prompt I’ve selected some final lines of poetry. Choose ONE and write your poem as continuation where the poet left off, thematically, in the same mood, rather than literally. Give special thought to your own final lines:-
- “As if we could hear music inside the words” Gail Newman ~ Trust
- “Airless and unloved, in the dank basement of the mind” L. Igloria ~ A Reparation
- “Call me to lie down in fragrance.” D. Margoshes ~ Season of Lilac
- “So close that your sea rises with my heat” C.Perez ~ Love in a Time of Climate Change
- “The clear vowels rise like balloons” S.Plath ~ Morning Song
- “You fling it open for the first time/ but I’m gone” M Kahf ~ Wall
Preferably DO NOT use the lines as title or within your writing but either cite the reference at the end OR place the quote as distinct Epigraph at the top of your poem.
Note: I have put links to all the poetry line prompts but advise that you read the original only after you have written your own
Once you have published your poem, add it to the Linky widget and leave a comment (see below). Then go visiting, reading and sharing your thoughts with other contributors which is half the fun of our dVerse gatherings.</a
Many thanks to Laura for her inspirational prompt. I’ve stayed with Sylvia Plath for this one.
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Me too… I look forward to read yours.
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Hello all .. I didn’t have the time to write a very long poem, but I hope it works.
Hello poets! I’m standing in for Laura for the first couple of hours tonight, and then Lill is taking over. Rhymes and rhythms available in long and tall glasses, hot and cold metaphors and iced similes are our speciality!
Thank you for stepping in, Sarah! Hot chocolate for me please 🙂 going to make my rounds now. 💝💝
Thank you so much for minding the bar for a bit, Sarah. A warm metaphor would be perfect.
Laura Bloomsbury said:
Sorry I can’t participate much but a sudden loss yesterday means I must bow out. I have posted my contribution but for now will not be able to do much replying and blog visiting.
I do hope you enjoy this poetics prompt and I thank Sarah and Lilian who have opted to host in my place.
Sending love and prayers, Laura. You are in my thoughts! xx
Sending my deepest sympathy, Laura. I’m thinking of you.
sending much love and sympathy, Laura. Helping out is a pleasure. Take care of yourself.
sorry for your loss, take care and be safe!
Hello All. Am behind yet again on the writing (what is it about Tuesdays?) Laura, please take it easy in your time of loss.
Laura, I am very sorry for your loss. You have given us an inspirational prompt. Thank you to our hosts and this very supportive community.
Great prompt Laura! Thank you for posting.
Lillian here….taking over tending the pub.
Teamwork: thanks Sarah for minding the pub till now. I’m sure you’re leaving it well stocked so others can stop in and imbibe some fabulous words and posts. I look forward to reading, commenting, and serving up some yummy beverages as needed.
Laura: please be gentle with yourself….may guardian angels be with you in your grief.
Lovely to see you, Lillian! Thanks for srepping in. Enjoy your evening.
A great prompt Laura, and all best wishes during this difficult time. Hi Lillian and all, have taken something from Gail Newman (a poet who is new to me) – written blind (I didn’t look at the original poem until I’d finished mine) – and I think they kinda fit. Anyway as ever looking forward to an afternoon’s reading on this rainy day.
Good to see you here, Peter! How I wish the Northern Hemisphere had your weather. We have snow tonight changing to snow and sleet tomorrow. Needless to say, I’ll be on the treadmill tomorrow instead of a walk outside!
(sending you sunny thoughts anyway…🌞)
Laura, sending blessings, strength and hugs during your difficult time. Thank you for the inspirational prompt!❤️
Good to see you here, Eugenia!
Thank you, Lillian!
Off to supper with my hubby. Key to the pub is under the flower pot, to the right of the door. Let yourself in and imbibe on some wonderful posts. Only tip we ask for is a post from you! Be sure to replace the key so others can stop in tonight.
I shall be back in the morning….strong cup of black coffee in hand. Looking forward to doing some more reading then!
Thanks for hosting. I too went with the Silvia Plath quote, thoughts about synesthesia and a wish to be colorful and bright instead of dark.
Good to see you here! The Plath quotation is a popular one!
M Jay Dixit said:
Hello Laura, sending warm regards and hugs your way. Also, I’d like to thank you for the wonderful prompt! It really took me to a great place and I think I’ve written one of my best poems (^_^)
Good to see you here this morning! Actually, the prompt is from Laura but sadly she’s had a death in her family and thus Sarah and I are filling in for her. I’ll be reading your post in a few moments.
Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Good Morning all- Laura, sending you love and light today. Thanks for hosting Sarah and Lillian.
Always happy to step in and help. Good to see you here, Linda.
An enticing challenge, thank you for hosting and inviting beginnings and endings.
I’m sorry if some comments have felt late – I had problems getting online yesterday! I have read some wonderful poems today, thank you to everyone for sharing.
Sorry I’m very late and just now realised I didn’t link it … went off on my own tangent.