So a month back I posted a poem. Namely this poem:
“Peace was promised to – proud world King.
But I warn of war – worthy crown.
Soon comes clash of – crimson spears
Drums beat battle cries – blood to stir.
Peace was promised you – Pray, take it!
Power must pass – prince must take
the eastern throne – through his might
your fair lands remain – fierce and strong.”
When I posted it I’d said it was quick and dirty and there’d be a discussion of why it was wrong later.
Welcome to later.
Things that I did right in this piece basically boil down to the alliteration. Other than that? It’s a bit of a mess. A lovely, not-really-noticeable-by-ear mess, but a mess never the less.
A quick discussion of the main points of Saxon verse:
-There are two half lines in each line. Each half line has four beats. Only the stressed syllable in a given word counts toward your beat count. You can technically cram as many unstressed syllables in as you wanted, but there comes a point when you’re just being obnoxious.
-You can end a thought anywhere in the line/half line you want to. It makes me twitchy to end a thought anywhere but the end of a line or end of a half line, but you can end in the middle if you really wanted to and it would still be correct.
-Alliteration is the backbone upon which you build your piece. Unlike a lot of modern poetry where rhyme scheme is king and alliteration is just a pretty additive, for Saxon verse alliteration is your heartbeat. Alliteration comes from your stressed syllable, which is not always your first one. For example:
Record alliterates with recycle but record alliterates with canon.
Fun fact: vowels always alliterate with each other. Eat alliterates with yes which alliterates with orange. Yeah I don’t get it either, I just know it’s a thing.
-The first stressed syllable (first beat) of your second half line alliterates with one or more words from the first half line. It is the only beat in the second half line to do so. This is therefore the most important word in a single line as it determines the over all alliteration of the line itself.
So now, where did I go wrong? Honestly I made one major, tragic, error, and all other errors stem from that.
I forgot each half line was four beats and defaulted to a 5/3 beat pattern. I also forgot that only the stressed syllables counted toward my beat pattern. What does this mean? It means that I wrote the bastard love child of Saxon and Irish verse that, much like a D&D half orc, fits with neither of the cultures that brought it into being.
Because my beat pattern is wrong, that really really important alliterative word in the second half line is in the wrong place. It should be one beat sooner. And there should be another beat after it. However certain lines also don’t have enough beats because I was counting every syllable as a beat, not just the stressed ones. Remember kids, when writing Saxon verse, only stressed syllables want to beat you.
So how can I fix it? Unfortunately to fix this particular error I’d need to do an entire rewrite. Which I could and should, but I am going to let this stand as an example of what happens when you speed write a form you’re still learning. To quote Ms. Frizzle of Magic Schoolbus fame: Get Messy, Make Mistakes.
Frankly that’s the only way you learn. And I’m learning.