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Tag: battle-pieces & aspects of the war

Battle-Pieces & Aspects of the War 2

Battle-Pieces & Aspects of the War 2

[Playing with poems published by Herman Melville in his 1866 “Battle Pieces & Aspects of the War”]

Misgivings / Herman Melville / 1860

When ocean-clouds over inland hills
Sweep storming in late autumn brown,
And horror the sodden valley fills,
And the spire falls crashing in the town,
I muse upon my country’s ills—
The tempest bursting from the waste of Time
On the world’s fairest hope linked with man’s foulest crime.
Nature’s dark side is heeded now—
(Ah! optimist-cheer disheartened flown)—
A child may read the moody brow
Of yon black mountain lone.
With shouts the torrents down the gorges go,
And storms are formed behind the storm we feel:
The hemlock shakes in the rafter, the oak in the driving keel.


Poem’s structure by verse:
8 syllables (weak, strong … strong–but with a “strong strong weak weak in the middle” )
8 syllables (weak … strong–but with a “weak weak strong strong” in the center)
9 syllables (weak … strong–but with a “weak weak” towards the front)
10 syllables (these verses are iambic, but not strictly so anywhere except the edges)
The rhyming is ababa, then aa, then ababa, then aa

A Response Poem by AMW or BW, as the case may be

Maryland, 1795

I’m just as white and free as you
demands brash backwoods hunterboy.
He’s right! he’s right about that too,
agrees rich family man, his wife much annoyed
by no-account with oldest daughter’s eye
oh silly woman!: no better suits pass by
our farflung, rifle-cracked bear-thick glade
(aged thirty-five; a milk cow, five chickens cooped,
a shack with rug and hearth, wife, saw blade,
plus shovel, ax, some maxims ready looped–
rich worldly patriarch, good Christian soul.)

I’m just as white and free as you
Joshua fit the battle of Jerico
and the walls slide trembling through–
pale sand in our blooddark Godly throw.

Joshua won the battle of Jerico
and God said take no wealth, no slaves,
but lick life from every beast and foe.
all Vengeance is mine cry crashing waves.

Two hundred years on,
four thousand years gone,
No identity ever once was real;
but how to stop the mad reeling?
to meet and greet
church potluck style