What is Prose Poetry?

What is Prose Poetry?

Prose Poetry is not poetry, at all. It remains prosaic by its lack of verse, though may be a more artistic, creatively written prose. Poetry lives in the land of verse, and verse[1] requires more than arbitrarily inserted line breaks. Prosists seek, by name alone, ascent to the more regal esteem in which poetry has for millennia been held. This is a usurpation and a stolen valor.

Let prose be prosaic.

Let poetry be verse.

Let the writer’s axe of art be swung, and the chips fall where they may.

Paul Guernsey, The Guern © 2020


[1] verse A metrical composition. The word verse is traditionally thought to derive from the Latin versus, meaning a “line,” “row,” or “furrow.” The metaphor of “plough” for “write” thus dates to antiquity. Verse is metrical writing. The poet disturbs language, arranging words into lines, into rows, turning them over, turning them toward each other, shaping them into patterns, Metrical writing is a way of charging sound, of energizing syllables and marking words, of rhythmically marking time. Such formal writing is markedly and perhaps even metaphysically different from prose. …The term verse is also used to refer to a single line of poetry, or to a single stanza, especially of a hymn or song. – Edward HirschA Poet’s Glossary

This Plot of Land

This plot of land where plow meets Earth,
and swaying grasses feed the sullen sheep
on gentle hills where hiding giants sleep.

A curve of hip, and here an elbow raised on high.
The barn and cottage there, where cattle and the kids,
both human and of goat now gainly grow.

Whence come these lives into the world,
and wither do they waning go?
Difficult for deific gnome so deep to delve
the mysteries of life beyond this mission-farm,
the only home, this heaven here on Earth.

Be watchful of the night through birth of day.
In doing rounds the rough heart does rejoice
much more than in these mysteries unmapped.

by Tomten © 2019
[alliterative verse [1], translated from the Tomten language, by The Guern]


in response to the poem, Tomten
By Viktor Rydberg, 1881
Presented in Swedish and English, Steven Michelsen


[1] See pages xxviii- xxx of Heaney’s Introduction to BEOWULF A New Verse Translation, Bilingual Edition, Seamus Heaney , W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London, 2000

“In one area, my own labours have been less than thorough-going. I have not followed the strict metrical rules that bound the Anglo-Saxon scop. I have been guided by the fundamental pattern of four stresses to the line, but I allow myself several transgressions. For exampel, I don’t always employ alliteration, and sometimes I alliterate only in one half of the line. when these breaches occur, it is because I prefer to let the natural ‘sound of sense’ prevail over the demands of the convention: I have been reluctant to force an artificial shape or an unusual word choice just for the sake of correctness.
“In general, the alliteration varies from the shadowy tot he substantial, from the properly to the improperly distributed. Substantial and proper are such lines as

The fortunes of war        favored Hrothgar        [line  64]
the highest in the land, would lend advice [line 172]
and find friendship in the Father's embrace [line 188]
  • “Here the caesura is definite,
  • “there are two stress in each half of the line,
  • “and the first stressed syllable of the second half alliterates with the first or second or both of the stressed syllables in the first half.

“The main deviation from this is one which other translators have allowed themselves–the freedom, that is, to alliterate on the fourth stressed syllable, a practice which breaks the rule but which nevertheless does bind the line together:

We have heard of those princes   heroic campaigns        [line  3]
and he crossed over into the Lord's keeping [line 27]

“In the course of the translation, such deviations, distortions, syncopations, and extensions do occur; what I was after first and foremost was a narrative line that sounded as if it meant business, and I was prepared to sacrifice other things in pursuit of this directness of utterance.”

— Seamus Heaney

EXAMPLE:

Meanwhile, a thane
of the king's household, a carrier of tales,
a traditional singer deeply schooled
in the lore of the past, linked a new theme
to a strict metre. The man started
to recite with skill, rehearsing Beowulf's
triumphs and feats in well-fashioned lines,
entwining his words. (866-873)

Beowulf [ibid.]


See also my essay, Beowulf: listening for alliterative verse

Poets, open your trench coats!

As poets, we open our trench coats to the world, and expose ourselves for all to see.

Poets must be willing to let others experience some of our private misgivings, not just our public triumphs. Sometimes it feels like a risk to let others see us in what could be perceived as a moment of weakness or other human shortcoming. Let it go. This is the first hurdle a poet must overcome, the fear of being seen or heard, caught in a fit of unguarded honesty.

Fear not, brave soul. You are impervious to aggressive mental suggestion. No criticism can sting that you have not yourself barbed and dipped in the poison. Are you willing to communicate, or not? Open your trench coat, but be willing to look down at yourself and honestly describe what you see. This is the first step of on the path of a poet.

[Note to the censors. This advice is meant metaphorically, not literally. ]

Poetic Rhythm Works a Magic

Verse works some kind of magic on its listener. The underlying beat of a poem is an aesthetic carrier wave of some kind, which transmits a meaning independent of the textual communication. These are the effects of meter, rhyme, stanzas – all that comprises verse, and by extension poetry.

Blank verse, heroic verse, alliterative verse, the sonnet, haiku. Each FORM establishes its own distinct and unique aesthetic effect on its listener, regardless of the words contained inside.


On Poetry

Beowulf: listening for alliterative verse

[see also Seamus Heaney’s Introduction to his BEOWULF A New Verse Translation, Bilingual Edition, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000]

The State of Poetry Now? — Human Pages

Are poets today largely talking to themselves? Are many of them happy to do so, locked away in academia or whatever other cloister? Are the ones who want a wider public, and who want to take on larger subjects, just curating their shelf of books for future generations to find? I heard somewhere that after […]

The State of Poetry Now? — Human Pages

[see also, my article: Poetry Lives in the Land of Verse]

[see also, my article: Beowulf: listening for alliterative verse]

[see also, my article: Free Verse: Prose, with Style]

[See also, this link to my English Literature professor’s article: Houpt: Literature’s debt to the language and intent of the Bible ]

The Tomten and the Cat

“Ha-ha-ha! Can’t reach me. I’m a bumble-bee!”

That was all she heard, buzzling through her head, as her four white paws touched silently, and all at the same time, back down in the dry black dirt. Four tiny puffs of dust rose in the air where she had landed, but just the puffs remained to be seen. She was instantly gone from that spot, camouflaged in shaddows cast by the brightness of the day. That buzzing voice was all she ever heard, no matter how many times she tried to snag one of those pesky bepples[1] that came by so many times, every single day to rob her lovely clover flowers of their nectar. She did not need, nor want, nor have any use for the nectar at all, but the thought of someone else having it bothered her all the way up to the white tips of her pointy ears. All flowers were Her flowers, Hers Alone.

Every other bit of her fur was black, as shiny as the surface of the pond on a calm, cold, moonlit night, but her paws and the tips of her ears where white, along with the right side of her cold, wet nose. These things made her stark, and striking, and beautiful, as anyone could see. She could think of no other way to describe herself. “Striking, most of all.” she often said to herself.

She crouched, invisible in the tall grass just beyond the fence. The whole clover field stretched out before her eyes. She smelled the growing things, the dirt and her favorite fragrance of all, the sweetness of the nectar, pooling in the clover flowers’ slender purple tubes. “Lovely, lovely, lovelierrrrrr.” The words she hummed fadded into a satisfying purr.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz-zzzzzz. The bepples bounced around the field creating their own kind of humming. Their collective song registered just below the sighing breath of wind in the trees edging the field. It filled the Cat’s ears. Her mind dimmed all else entering from her sense of sound. There was the overall droning tone of all their numbered wings, and closer in, the rise and fall of individuals as they rambled on from flower to flower and plant to plant. Soon, one would wander close enough for her next pounce.

“Soon… Soon… Soon…”

If she could have looked back at herself, she would have seen her eye slits narrow as the Cat sharpened its sense of distance.[2]

She was barely aware of her body tensing, a spring compressing before its sudden Cat-apulting release. A big slow bepple had come straight toward her out of the depths of clover. There had been no thought before the leap, no decision or calculation was made to pounce. It was if the Cat’s muscles themselves had acted of their own will to survive, independent of her eyes, ears, or mind. The spring compressed, and in nearly the same moment, it released. Six pounds, six ounces of stunning silken blackness streaking skyward, on a perfect collision course with the big, slow, and presumably dumb bepple. The outcome was not in doubt. Not this time.

It is well known that Cats can land softly and silently from considerable heights. It is less well known, that they can do so while holding prey between their paws, and without harming the prey. A Cat can do this if it wants to, if it has a strong desire Not to kill, as this Cat had. Killing was all too easy, once the Catch was made. But for some Cats, the Catch is only half the fun. She knew how to slice it with her claws to keep it alive and writhing but unable to escape, just as her mother had so deliciously taught her brother and her with the Orioles that used to live around the house. “Where did they go?” she wondered. “So much fun. Shame they stopped coming around. Nothing but bepples, these days, and this one will have to do.” The claws that had so secured and gently protected the bepple began sinking ever so deliCately into the its black and yellow fur covered casing.

Is that a thing you really want to do?” whispered a voice inside her head.

Nobody, bepple, Cat, or otherwise, had ever spoken to her in Tomten language[3] before, and she was put slightly off her game. “But yes, I Do!” she replied in the language she had not known she could speak. This was also just a bit alarming, and her talons retracted. The movement was imperceptible, except to the bumble-bee, but the tearing claws had halted. “I really, really Doooo.” she repeated, this time in an almost pleading tone.

She carefully kept her captured friend entrapped by sharpened claws while quickly glancing round about to see who put those thoughts inside her head. She looked but could not find the voice for it was not impelled through air where she might quickly hear from where it came, not even as it spoke again:

My dear, sweet cat with boots and ears of white,
Why do you feel so sad that you may harm
the bumble-bee pretending you are glad?

The cat grew hot and spoke again in Tomten:

I am not sad, my friend, and who are you
to question what I want to do to mete
out justice to the little thieves who steal
my nectar, MINE, as if it were their own?
I do not know this “Rumpled-Bee” of yours,
but these are only bepples, flying stones
as stupid as the dull and dusty rocks
beneath your feet. There is no written law
protecting them or any other thing
from this, the striking Cat’s superior PAW!

As she spoke this final word, she raised and jabbed the empty air with her right front paw, a threat for all to see from wherever they might be watching. The bumble-bee did not hesitate to sting[4] the left front paw, as soon as its body was not being held by quite so many claws at once. This produced the desired effect, full stinging freedom, which the bumble-bee chose to exercise in the direction of that white spot in the middle of its former captor’s face.

“Rrrooooooowwww!” The Cat’s response to this most wreched, undiserved assult was heard by every living thing with ears within the neighborhood, inside walls and out.

Bumble-bee and Cat flew rapidly, this time in opposite directions. The Tomten leaned upon his staff and slowly shook his head, a faint smile peeking through his bearded face.

I am the Tompte, that is who I am.
I speak to you in Tomten language.
A simple language cats can understand.

A silent chuckle. as a noticible increase in the volume of buzzing rippled through the clover, and he was gone, unseen again, for no one ever sees the Tomten.

copyright 2019, Paul Lance Guernsey



[1] bepple – made-up spelling of pebble, the word used by Cats to describe bumble-bees and other smallish things that fly; Cats also confuse “bepple” with “people”, a word used for most living things below the grade of Cat.



[2] Why Cats Have Vertical Pupils “Ambush predators, like many cats and snakes, were most likely to sport vertical-slit pupils, particularly when those animals were active at night. The reason for this correlation most likely has to do with the mechanics of the eye, Banks told Live Science. Ambush hunters need to be very good at gauging depth so they can effectively leap out at their prey.”
https://www.livescience.com/51787-why-Cats-have-vertical-pupils.html



[3] The Tomten [plural Tomterna] is a beloved and friendly class of Swedish House Elf, though some research suggests it relates more closely to the Gnome or Troll. A Tomten watches and protects animals on a farm or other homestead, and speaks to them in Tomten language, “a silent little language an [animal] can understand.” Tomten language becomes Blank Verse when translated into English. Other authors have attempted to translate Tomten language first into Swedish, but more recent achronological finds and linguistic research have uncovered this more natural translation into English Blank Verse, directly from the Tomten.
Seamus Heaney may argue that the Aliterative Verse of Beowulf should be the proper cadence for an English translation of the Tompten Language. Both original begin as oral tradition in Old or Ancient Swedish. Both originate as narative poems. But Heaney might agree that the Tompten’s voice desirves a less formal, perhaps even lyrical quality. He is, after all, a gentle soul, a caregiver, and not a warrior. He is ancient, and desirves a slightly more formal cadence than mere prose. The freedom of Blank Verse provides this. I could be completely wrong about Heaney. I would love to hear his thoughts on the Tomten Language. He would probably learn Old Swedish and read the original by Viktor Rydberg. Perhaps I may get to that project myself.
See also, “The Tomten” [https://www.astridlindgren.com/en/book/astrid-lindgren4], adapted by Astrid Lindgren from a poem by Viktor Rydberg, illustrataed by Harald Wiberg, and “The Tomten and the Fox” [https://www.astridlindgren.com/en/book/the-tomten-and-the-fox].



[4] Do bumble bees sting?
“Bumble bees are usually peaceful but will attack if provoked.
“[The] Honey bee stings only once, but [the] bumble bee stings several times.
“Research has been done regarding the painfulness of a bumble bee sting and it has been ranked as less painful than a honey bee sting.”
https://www.mybeeline.co/en/p/do-bumble-bees-sting

[image]



What is Prose Poetry? – It Isn’t.

In response to What is Prose Poetry? by Melissa Donovan

“Although most poetry is written in verse, structure alone does not define poetry. So we can take the other elements of poetry and then reshape the writing into sentences and paragraphs. That’s how you get prose poetry.” – Melissa Donovan

No.

Good writing is good writing. Good prose can exist all on its own, artistic in its own right, without the need of stolen valor by claiming the moniker of Poem. Prose can be lyrical [1]. Prose can use “imagery, economics of language, fragmentation, compression, repetition, rhyme, metaphor, figures of speech, and wordplay.” The presence of these elements does not define a poem. Verse defines a poem. Poetry Lives in the Land of Verse. [2]

Without verse, there is no poem. Words arranged as sentences and paragraphs might be artistic, but without verse, they are still Prose. Prose writers, consider taking more pride in your medium and own it for what is and for all it can be. Why contort words into things they are not? What is wrong with strong, clear and precise definitions? Why not, if you seek to Break Rules, take up the mantle [3] of the genre that claims none, Prose?


[1] LYRICAL: (of literature, art, or music) expressing the writer’s emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way. ‘he gained a devoted following for his lyrical cricket writing’ – Oxford English Dictionary

[2] Poetry Lives in the Land of Verse, by Paul Guernsey Player

[3] MANTLE: An important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another. ‘the second son has now assumed his father’s mantle’ – Oxford English Dictionary

Blank Verse, a Three Crested Tsunami

In response to Shakespeare and Prose: Why He Was a Genius by jennifer G


Jennifer G , in her review of Prose and verse in Shakespeare’s plays , by Kim Ballard – states that Shakespeare used prose as a tool to enhance his plays’ plots and characterizations. She states, “He was the man responsible for developing the blank verse. Before him, poets wrote in rhyme. He was a pioneer, …” She also credits Milton’s use of blank verse in creating Paradise Lost, “one of the most significant pieces of literature of all time.”

But G’s essay leaves me with two questions: First, How much of a work can be in prose before it is no longer a work of verse? One line? Six? Secondly, is she aware that Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517 – 1547), invented blank verse a generation or two before W. Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)?

When is blank verse prose?

As to the first question, G says Shakespeare’s plays are a combination of both prose and verse:

“In the 16th century, plays were written in rhyme form, typically verse and no real passion for storytelling. Shakespeare, however, changed things by writing his plays in prose and verse. Much of this can be seen in his earlier plays, but more so in his more famous plays like Romeo and Juliet. The prose was something set aside for jaunty romances and traveler’s tales in those days. They thickened plots and made the stories more engaging. This was why playwrights never thought to use it.
“Shakespeare, being different, decided his plots would be better, and the relationships would be more profound if he added prose to his plays. This worked, especially in challenging stories like Hamlet where we see many relationships built, lost and tragedies unfold. The mechanical verse form cannot achieve that.” [1]

But where is prose in Hamlet to be found? In my essay, Poetry Lives in the Land of Verse, I site the University of Victoria’s web page on Blank Verse [2]. Shakespeare’s blank verse evolves over time, becoming more flexible, but it is still blank verse, not prose:

“In general, Shakespeare’s blank verse, and the verse of his peers, evolved over the years from regular ten-syllable, regular, end-stopped lines

(Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.1)
to become increasingly flexible, often including one or two extra syllables, and varying the regular iambic rhythm. Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy begins relatively regularly, but the following lines each have an extra syllable:

So, The Bard was an early Poet Heretic, willing to adapt and stretch the Accepted Forms to his own needs, was he? Apparently so, …

…but just how far a stretch did he propose?

To stretch, perhaps to break: ay, there’s the rub;

Though I no expert nor a scholar am,
but I my own (perhaps) misguided aims
at verses blank
have sometimes took.
From this experience, I tell you this.
There comes a time when form does yield to sense, [3]
and sense to greater understanding flows.
The troops break ranks, if only for a breath,
as strain of corsett does the maiden’s ribs constrict,
but line yields back to line and soon into
their ranks the rhythmic words and numbers fall.
Is it still verse, or have we to the depths
of prose befallen us, as Satan from God’s grace?

G states, “The very fact that [Shakespeare] could write so many emotional tales and produce beautiful prose was something many writers tried desperately to reproduce for many decades.” [emphasis added]. It was not his minor use of prose that was the beautiful part of Shakespeare, but his major use of verse. Yes, a verse or two or three were stretched, sometimes beyond the point of recognition, and to these lines we cannot honestly pin the label VERSE. But to say therefore, that “Shakespeare, however, changed things by writing his plays in prose and verse,” is to exaggerate the role of Shakespeare’s ‘”prose”. It mistakes a sparingly used technique, employed for artistic effect, with the overall artistic style.

On her ABOUT page, Jennifer G says, “I take advice with a grain of salt. However, I dole it out like it’s free, so there you go. I am a hypocrite.” With apologies to G, from one hypocrite to another, Hamlet is still blank verse, not prose and verse.

The real inventor of blank verse

Next question. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare and of Milton, but the building tsunami of blank verse, as many great movements, arrived on Earth as a group of three: Howard, Shakespeare, Milton. While Milton openly honors his predecessor’s “easy numbers” in his poem, On Shakespeare [4], Shakespeare pays Howard the sincerest form of flattery, immitation. As Shakespeare did not invent that particular phrase [5], neither did he invent blank verse.

W.A. Sessions writes in Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey

“What is remarkable about the Earl of Surrey’s blank verse is that it has no clear origin except within one personality and one life-story. Whatever conceptions and techniques Surrey developed from specific literary sources, whether Geoffrey Chaucer, the French, the Italians, or Gawain Douglas, finally and mysteriously the blank verse originated out of a single person — Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Before Surrey, in English, as an astute editor of Thomas Wyatt has observed, there had been ‘nothing quite like it’. Blank verse with its flexibility, its ‘readiness’, in T. S. Eliot’s term, surprised everyone. It had not evolved with time but was suddenly, ‘immediately’, invented — by a young man, not always mature, at a specific time and place terrible in their dislocations.” [6]

On Henry Howard’s new invention, Sessions continues:

“The freedom and flexibility of a language for Tudor ‘nobul hartys’ had been consciously designed by the young earl. Technical interplay and linear tension were to turn ordinary language into poetry, all in an absence of rhyme never so absolute since 1066. In this absence, if Wright is correct, Surrey carried–to an even greater ritualization–Wyatt’s own experiments in reproducing the human voice. As in Wyatt, Surrey’s worked through a ‘dual basis’, a dialectic in which ‘the metrical line and the natural rhythm of the language engage each other in a continuing struggle and, in order to abide harmoniously in each other’s presence, submit to certain standard modifications.’ From this engagement and harmony come the poetic line and, what is important for Surrey, the verse paragaraph. Surrey, like his offspring Milton, did intend that his heroic line express’Things unattempted yet in verse or prose’.” [6]

One more thing. Shakespeare was not first to publish a play in blank verse. That honor apparently goes to two young English noblemen, Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, authors of Gorboduc. [7]



[1] Shakespeare and Prose: Why He Was a Genius by jennifer G
[ https://jenchaosreviews.com/2018/11/09/shakespeare-and-prose-why-he-was-a-genius/

[2] “Blank verse” http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/literature/poetry/blankverse.html

[3] [There comes a time when form does yield to sense,] – I allude to Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism, Part 2:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
‘Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o’er th’ unbending corn, and skims along the main.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44897/an-essay-on-criticism-part-2

[4] On Shakespeare. by John Milton https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46453/on-shakespeare-1630

[5] IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY, origin of
https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery.html

[6] Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey, by W. A. Sessions, Oxford University Press, 2003

[7] Borboduc, first play written in blank verse; first performed in 1561 http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/drama/early%20tragedies/gorboduc.html

Free Verse: Prose, with Style

in response to dVerse~Poets Pub 2018/11/12 Pubtalk – Form or free or both

Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” is not free verse at all. It is iambic tetrameter, more or less. Three verses of it, each ending with a line of trimeter; with arbitrary line breaks thrown in. When I read “Caged Bird”, I hear this poem:

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The rhyme emphasizes the rhythm inherent in the lines, which have a natural stop with each tetrameter. Free verse, however, requires no such pattern. In the same way that Buzz Lightyear can fly (falling, with style), Free Verse can be considered poetry (prose, with style). It has a direct kinship with the Authorized King James Bible:

In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; 
and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; 
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; 
and the darkness comprehended it not.

This is prose, not poetry. [1] The difference between the opening of the book of John and Angelou is clear, but for the sake of our own egos, when we write verse that imitates Biblical style and spirit, we bestow upon it the title of Verse. Verse, however means rhythm, as in Angelou, above. Free Verse was invented just as the Bible had become universally available and the most read piece of literature in the world. It made sense that its readers would take on its style in their own writings. For good or ill, these newly literate generations aspired to be poets (who wouldn’t?) and labeled their works accordingly. Whitman is the prime example:

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it
should be, blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank
or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work,
or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his
boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat
deck, ...

What I hear is a man who grew up reading the Bible. What I hear is Prose with Style.

Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/11/13

[1] Literature’s debt to the language and intent of the Bible, by C.Theodore Houpt, 1988/06/06, from the archives of the Christian Science Monitor. [ https://theguern.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/houpt-literatures-debt-to-the-language-and-intent-of-the-bible/ ]

Why I Like Cows, Poetry and Prose

[prose (not poetry)]

Why I Like Cows

Some fields have cows in them. Cows are interesting. Sometimes they stand and sometimes they lie in the grass. On one day you will see them on one side of the field and the next day, they might be on the other side. On some days the cows escape from the field. That is when cows are their most interesting.

Some cows have birds with them. These are not cow birds. Cow birds are different. They are really cattle egrets, but I like to call them cow birds, anyway. Cow birds are interesting, but not as interesting as cows. Cow birds are mostly interesting because they are with cows.

Fields are more interesting when they have cows in them. Birds are more interesting when they are with cows. Cows are cute and friendly. That is why I like them, and my middle name is Guernsey. That is why I really like cows.

Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/09/29


[the exact same prose, with enjambments [1] and end stops [3] 
(not a smidge more poetry than the above)]

Why I Like Cows

Some fields have cows in them.
Cows are interesting.
Sometimes they stand and
sometimes they lie in the grass.
On one day you will see them
on one side of the field
and the next day, they might be
on the other side.
On some days the cows
escape from the field.
That is when cows are
their most interesting.

Some cows have birds with them.
These are not cow birds.
Cow birds are different.
They are really cattle egrets,
but I like to call them cow birds, anyway.
Cow birds are interesting,
but not as interesting as cows.
Cow birds are mostly interesting
because they are with cows.

Fields are more interesting
when they have cows in them.
Birds are more interesting
when they are with cows.
Cows are cute and friendly.
That is why I like them,
and my middle name is Guernsey.
That is why I really like cows.
Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/09/29


2018-09.Why I Like Cows.post-it[blank verse]

[poetry (blank verse)]

Why I Like Cows

Some fields have cows within their border fence
and cows are interesting to watch. Sometimes
they stand and sometimes lie upon the grass.
On one day you will see them on the right
and on the next you’ll see them on the left.
And every now and then the cows get out.
On days like these you’ll find, when cows are out,
they’re really, really interesting – the most.

Sometimes you’ll see a cow, or two, or three
with lovely birds just standing by their sides.
These really are not cow birds, not the same.
By name they go by cattle egrets but
I like to call them cow birds, just the same.
The interesting thing about the cow
bird is that he is with a bunch of cows.

The fields themselves become more interesting
when they have cows in them, and birds become
more interesting when they are seen with cows.
Cows are cute and friendly, that is why
I like them, and my middle name is Guernsey,
which is why I really like the cow.
Paul Guernsey Player, © 2018/09/30


[1] enjambment – also called run-on, in prosody [2], the continuation of the sense of a phrase beyond the end of a line of verse. Compare end stop [3]. T.S. Eliot used enjambment in the opening lines of his poem The Waste Land:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

[2] prosody – the study of all the elements of language that contribute toward acoustic and rhythmic effects, chiefly in poetry but also in prose. The term derived from an ancient Greek word that originally meant a song accompanied by music or the particular tone or accent given to an individual syllable. Greek and Latin literary critics generally regarded prosody as part of grammar; it concerned itself with the rules determining the length or shortness of a syllable, with syllabic quantity, and with how the various combinations of short and long syllables formed the metres (i.e., the rhythmic patterns) of Greek and Latin poetry. Prosody was the study of metre and its uses in lyric, epic, and dramatic verse…

…Prose as well as verse reveals the use of rhythm and sound effects. However, critics speak not of “the prosody of prose” but of prose rhythm. The English critic George Saintsbury wrote A History of English Prosody from the Twelfth Century to the Present (3 vol., 1906–10), which treats English poetry from its origins to the end of the 19th century, but he dealt with prose rhythm in an entirely separate work, A History of English Prose Rhythm (1912). Many prosodic elements such as the rhythmic repetition of consonants (alliteration) or of vowel sounds (assonance) occur in prose; the repetition of syntactical and grammatical patterns also generates rhythmic effect.

[3] end stop – (compare enjambment [1] ) in prosody [2], a grammatical pause at the end of a line of verse, as in these lines from Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.