The Poets

January 07, 2010

Thou Mortal Thread

O thou mortal thread of light-
Frail and flickering in the dark-
Fear not mortal winds that blow
And bend thy quaint and placid spark.
These may breathe a fatal air
And quit that quaking flame agleam;
They, however, cannot touch
Th' eternal essence of thy beam.
Revel therefore in this time-
Though mortal and a borrowed thing-
Revel, O thou sacred flame,
For in thee dwells immortal being.

Of the Poem (Notes):

Stanza: I initially intended three quatrains here, but because the subject ran together well and without blatant breaks they were combined into a whole.
Meter: Mixed; The first line (and the odd ones that follow) have a seven syllable count, whereas all the even lines are four metric feet (i.e. tetrameter) .
Rhyme Scheme: a.x.a.x. / b.x.b.x. / c.x.c.x. (where ‘x’ represents, as I’ve shown in earlier posts, unrhymed lines).

In the following words there are nine distinct syllables: The eternal life within thy beam. These words are line 8 in the above poem, but with this difference, that I changed the to th' so as to reduce the syllable count to eight.

What happens, and one sees this over and over in the world of poetry, is that th' binds itself to the word that immediately follows it. This is not to say that th' is 'silent', but rather that its sonorous angularity is diminished, and when this happens its independent vocalization becomes immediately dependent on the word that follows.

In short, th' binds itself in such a way to the word eternal that it's almost essentially one word (one word containing three rather than four syllables). I intentionally did this here because until this point I haven't been able to employ this technique in a poem. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity here to do this.

A great example of this would be Shakespeare's 147th sonnet , lines 1 through 4.

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please.

Had Shakespeare chosen the verses th' in line four it would have turned his pentameter into an eleven syllable count rather than ten. Hence, in the original sonnet, Th' is written to preserve the meter. This was my intention above.

With that said, I hope that if this is read by others, well, it's an enjoyable read.

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As of April 9th, 2010