Today is the 10th day of March. A number we barely attend to other than its associations with decimalization, human digits, a coveted football/soccer shirt, and for us Brits, the home of a Prime Minister! Pythagoreans on the other hand would abhor such profane complacency. For them
“the number “10” was the most divine of all, called “the mother of all, the all-comprising, all-bounding, the firstborn, the never-swerving, the never-tiring holy ten, the keyholder of all,” with its own prayer dedicated to it and a symbol called the Tetractys, which consisted of a triangle with 10 points across four rows, which they literally worshipped on their knees in deep prayer.” ~ Brent Swancer
Perhaps it might be said that this reverence for the unity of ten is (quite naturally) preserved in poetry. Certainly, it occurs several times in poetry forms, most notably the 10 syllabic line count of sonnets. But doubly so when the decasyllabic is coupled with a 10 line poem (decastitch) as in C1 of Catullus’ ten poem collection:
“Through many races and through many eyes
I’ve come, my brother, to these piteous rites
To offer you a final gift in death,
And to your silent ashes call in vain;
For Fate has token you away from me –
Alas, unhappy brother, – underserved.
Now, meanwhile, still accept what I can give
To death, in the manner of our ancestors
A gift that flows with all a brother’s tears,
And for ever more, hail and fare thee well.”.”
And also R. L. Stevenson’s poem “De Ligurra”:-
“YOU fear, Ligurra – above all, you long –
That I should smite you with a stinging song.
This dreadful honour you both fear and hope –
Both all in vain: you fall below my scope.
The Lybian lion tears the roaring bull,
He does not harm the midge along the pool.
Lo! if so close this stands in your regard,
From some blind tap fish forth a drunken barn,
Who shall with charcoal, on the privy wall,
Immortalise your name for once and all.”
Although it has evidently existed long before, the decasyllabic decastitch (!) poetry form has been ascribed to Sheeley A. Cephas and named ‘the Decuain’ (pronounced duck•won), though the stipulation includes iambic pentameter and permits 3 choices of rhymes; ababbcbcaa, ababbcbcbb, or ababbcbccc
But that’s not all…since Ten is closely bound up with the Euclidean equilateral triangle Tetractys, we have Ray Stebbing’s eponymous form which is a triangular syllabic of 1;2;3;4;10.
So in today’s challenge I offer you a choice :-
a 10 line stanza poem (more stanzas permitted of this length)
10 syllables per line
rhyme scheme as per the Decuain or free verse if you’d prefer
a 5 line stanza poem (more stanzas if you wish)
1;2;3;4;10 syllables for each successive line of the 1st; 3rd; 5th stanza etc; inverted for even numbered stanzas
Once you have published your poem, add it to the Mr Linky below so that others can read it. Then go visiting others as that is half the enjoyment of our dVerse gatherings.
N.B. Please read carefully, and abide by, the rules of the prompt before linking up or you may have to re-write or more regrettably, have the link removed.
Ten Poems: Martha Hollander and Catullus
Ligurra is a type of jumping spider