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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.