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"On 'Virtue'" - a poem writing assignment for my Lit class


DmitryK 2 / 10  
Dec 3, 2009   #1
Here is the first poem I've written, an assignment for my Lit class. Critique is strongly appreciated.

"With what great fervor they swept outside!

As chaotic as the raging tide,

Yet unified in principle!"

My admission, do you crave,

That they did crash and foam as wave?

Their unruliness of procession

Is my sole confession,

For while they may shout and leap,

United they are but with principles of sheep,

Righteous activism present only in the shepherd.

"Your cynicism is a venom to your soul!

On what grounds do you state that

To be their goal?!"

My assertion would be by you confirmed,

If you but asked the flock concerned.
lostskeptic 2 / 4  
Dec 3, 2009   #2
Very beautiful!

However, how does this exactly pertain to virtue? It seems more rooted in your sheep/shepard allusion which would allude to a more conformity based message.
OP DmitryK 2 / 10  
Dec 3, 2009   #3
Well, the one to whom the speaker responds (his/her words are indicated by the quotations) believes the implied protesters to be virtuous and unified in principle. However, the speaker points out that their "fervor" might stem from mere conformity ("I'm protesting just because everyone else is"). When I titled it "On 'Virtue' ", I suppose I meant for "Virtue" to be interpreted ironically, in that it is precisely what the vast majority of the protesters lack.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 5, 2009   #4
Great rhymes in the beginning, it's hectic! How weird... you get a really cool effect. Consider omitting the word "as" in that second line -- for rhythm's sake.

Add a comma or it is confusing here:
United they are, but with principles of sheep,

Or...
United they are, but they think like with principles of s heep,
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 7, 2009   #5
United they are, but with principles of sheep,

I would lose the but altogether if it were mine...

Their unruliness of procession

Is my sole confession,

For while they may shout and leap,

holding lofty principles of sheep, (??)

Righteous activism present only in the shepherd.

Kevin is right; it is a bit unruly. I like it, though. Hmmm. I even get the message (the bit up there reminded me about "activists" who proclaim themselves "grass-roots" when they are merely spouting, by rote, the rhetoric of influential others).

My assertion would be by you confirmed,

If you but asked the flock concerned.

I am not reading any assertion. Did you perhaps leave it out? If there never was one, then you need to make one, otherwise the last two verses don't make sense.

I think I understand the way Virtue ties in. Virtue is absent in those who blindly follow others along a path that may harbor certain grave consequences.

Blue skies! Jeannie
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 7, 2009   #6
I am quoting pheelyks from the "am I getting the metrics?" thread (I don't know how to cross threadlines to quote someone yet...). He said,

"One thing that should NEVER happen, however, is allowing the rhyme and/or meter to take over the poem. Read what you have out loud, and ask yourself if you're truly happy with the meaning of each line and the poem as a whole, or if the rhymes are reaching for it to the point that the poem is stretched beyond recognition.

Wise words.
OP DmitryK 2 / 10  
Dec 8, 2009   #7
The assertion was that "[the protesters] are united but with...&c", but I agree that I sacrificed some meaning for the sake of making the poem rhyme. Yet, if I don't try to make a poem rhyme from the onset, it just doesn't "feel" like a proper poem to me. I'll need to find some other method of organization for the lines, or my poetry will turn into bite-sized prose.
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 9, 2009   #8
Yet, if I don't try to make a poem rhyme from the onset, it just doesn't "feel" like a proper poem to me.

I discover this in my own poems! It is frustrating sometimes, but easily fixed - I just figure out what I want to say and switch the rhyming words out for something that fits better. >psst.. I even use the thesaurus from time to time, but don't tell anybody :)

Try it! That is why I shared the advise from pheelyks about the rhymes not taking over your whole message. You can always change words to rhyme, but it is impossible to build a message around rhyming words.

"ask yourself if you're truly happy with the meaning of each line and the poem as a whole"

Your message is worth the effort of revision, I think, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with! Even after you have to hand it in for the assignment deadline, I hope you will work it to its deserved perfection :)


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