The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I’d rather take,
No matter where it’s going.
– Edna St. Vincent Millay
There was a time when I thought that to write poetry in the rhythm, form, and shape shown above was not only my highest ambition, it was my only one. I was so prolific in it – I wrote 365 poems (ANIMA’S DAYS) plus a bunch more, three plays (FAUST adaptation, GILGAMESH, CLYTEMNESTRA SPEAKS) , and a 200-page thesis (TIME TO RHYME) in that exact poetic form. And that’s only what I remember. I was the monotonous and versatile balladeer. I still have a lot of affection for that structure, if only because we’ve traveled so far together – but these days, to make myself write like that now, I have to, well, make myself write like that.
There isn’t even a category for “rhyme” on this blog. I’ll create one, for old time’s sake, but I don’t know how much it’ll get used. I have been trying to write a tetrameter sonnet lately, and it’s killing me. Not that I can’t do it – I can do it easily – but I can’t do it WELL. I used to use that form so thoughtlessly, but it was like using a blender to brush your hair.