Most poetry buffs have finally made peace with the whole form versus free verse debate. The way I look at it, free verse and form are equally difficult to write well. Composing free verse is like going on a road trip without a map: it's very easy to get lost. Writing form poetry is like buying a map but not realizing how very detailed and complicated it is until you start driving.
A short while ago I mentioned that I'm slowly getting through the anthology Immortal Poems of the English Language. Written in chronological order, I'm still only up to the late 1600s and the freer verse of Walt Whitman is still two centuries away. It started me thinking- I often try my hand at free verse, but don't often attempt form poetry. No time like the present, as they say.
This time around I've tried to go with the triplet (like a couplet, but one more line following an aaa pattern). The rhythm and meter for such poems is consistent across the lines of an individual poem, but can vary from different poems. I've tried to use, as my map, George Herbert's "Paradise:"
I bless thee, Lord, because I grow
Among the trees, which in a row
To thee both fruit and order owe
What open force, or hidden charm
Can blast my fruit, or bring me harm,
While the inclosure is thine arm?
Inclose me still for fear I start;
Be to me rather sharp and tart,
Than let me want they hand and art.
When thou dost greater judgements spare,
And with thy knife but prune and pare,
Even fruitful trees more fruitful are:
Such sharpness shows the sweetest friend,
Such cuttings rather heal than rend,
And such beginnings touch their end.
Before getting into my own creation, I should note that Herbert's poem didn't really stick out to me (though I appreciate the rather clever thing he did with the end words- and I won't attempt anything that fancy yet!), I've used it primarily because I liked the form itself. Please keep in mind that this is a first attempt, and I might come back to this one a year from now and either scrap it entirely or edit the hell out of it.
Fisherman’s Lament (or To Fish or Not To Fish)
(by John Mutford)
At work I only caught the germ
Forever hooked, I dared not squirm
But hankered for the taste of worm.
No wind, no waves, no sound, no thought
No care for fish, for none are caught
Two bites were all I ever got.
My shadow sits upon the sea
I cast my line and it casts me
Hung by the sun, and never free.