Daily Archives: September 4, 2017

A Losing Battle #poetry

Calen says she doesn’t understand the rules of enjambment, (broken phrases in verse). I say you don’t have to – if it feels good, do it… often it feels good for a reason.

Enjambment can be defined as a phrase or clause in a line of poetry that doesn’t finish at the end of the line, but continues onto the next line. For example:

The fat
cat sat on the
mat so what do
you and
the incapacitated decapitated de-ratified
rat think of that

It strikes me that my intuitive friend has an instinctive understanding of the subject, but who am I to argue… so, for the edification of Calen, and anyone else who is interested, today I’m conducting an experiment with word breaks.

I’ve written a whimsical poem about the weather. It includes some enjambment, but to give you an extreme example of the style, I’ve copied and pasted the same poem below, with the lines jarringly re-formatted. You may not consider it a pretty sight, but it leaves you in no doubt as to what enjambment is all about – and who knows, you may prefer it to the original. I’d be curious to know your opinion.

Enjambment is  a handy tool – provided it’s used with thought.

Here’s the original, carefully enjambed poem :

This year, a cheeky Summer sun achieved
an eager heat attack in Spring,
surprising slumbering nimbus clouds
while resting easy from
their winter overkill.

The nimbi flew across the azure sky,
attacking basking cumuli as they raged by,
consuming them is if the airy fluff were scattered heads
of cauliflower,
and as they ate, their looming, steel-grey faces
swelled with anger at the scheming rays
that tricked them when their backs were turned.

All through these few unsettled months,
a mighty weight of fights have churned the simmering skies,
with daily victories and tears on either side.

While neither camp concedes defeat,
the days of steaming heat are sprinkled fine between
the weeks of driving rain —
so I would say determined storm has won on points.
Now all too soon, the dog-tired sun
will don her shades for well-earned sleep,
and leave the seasons on default,
to build her strength to to try win the weather game
in next year’s grand assault.

And now –  the messy, excessively-enjambed version:-

This year a cheeky Summer sun achieved
an eager heat attack in Spring surprising
slumbering nimbus clouds while
resting easy from their winter
overkill

The nimbi flew across the azure sky
attacking basking cumuli as they raged by
consuming them as if the airy fluff were scattered heads
of cauliflower and as they ate
their looming
steel-grey
faces swelled
with anger at the scheming rays that tricked
them when their backs
were turned. All through
these few unsettled
months a mighty weight
of fights have churned the simmering skies with
daily victories and
tears on either side

While neither camp
concedes defeat the days
of steaming heat are sprinkled
fine between the weeks of driving
rain so I would say determined storm has
won on points

Now all too soon the dog-tired
sun will don her
shades for well-earned
sleep
and leave the seasons on default to build
her strength to try to win the
weather game in
next year’s grand
assault

Remember, the second version is – more than anything – an example of how not to use enjambment. Once you understand the concept, you can look out for better examples, where enjambment is used to advantage,  rather than merely to shoddily showcase it.

You can find more about enjambment HERE.

As with all poetry styles, take with what you like, and leave the rest behind. You can write your own rules.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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