“To His Brooke.” Review

Edmund Spenser’s  “To His Brooke.”

For those of you who don’t happen to have a wonderful copy of The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spenser or those of you who have never heard of Edmund Spenser before you searched poetry on WordPress, here’s a copy of the poem I will be talking about.

To His Brooke.

Goe little brooke: thy selfe present,
as child whose parent was unkent:
To him that is the president
Of noblesse and of chevalree,
And if that Envie barke at thee,
As sure it will, for succoure flee
Under the shadow of his wing,
and asked, who thee forth did bring,
A shepheards swaine saye did thee sing,
All as his straying flocke he fedde:
And when his honor has thee redde:
Carve pardon for my hardyhedde.
But if that any aske thy name,
Say thou wert base begot with blame:
For thy thereof thou takest shame.
And when thou art past jeopardee,
Come tell me, what was sayd of mee:
And I will send more after thee.

Immeritô

With the text out of the way, I’d like to talk about the poem, but first, there’s one more order of business. I want to paraphrase the poem as well, so if you don’t want to read my paraphrase of the poem, skip the next speech box.

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Metaphorical Discussions

Hey guys, today I thought I’d look at metaphor since it’s something that is so heavily laced not only in poetry but in writing in general. Metaphors are something that are around us all day every day, but we never really pay them much mind. For instance, most idioms started out as metaphors. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” comes from people having squeaky wheels on wagons. “Don’t rock the boat” comes from a time when fishing and boating was more prevalent.

So here are some things that school wouldn’t have taught you:

Metaphors are not always nouns related to one another. For instance “the truck washed through the traffic” is using a verb ‘washed’ for the metaphor. The truck can’t literally wash through anything, and washing out something is usually reserved for a river or a a washing machine of some sort. It still works as a metaphor because it’s descriptive and relatable. We often wouldn’t even qualify it as a metaphor because it’s so commonplace to use phrases like that. They often end up classified as personification too.

Metaphors are best used when relating very common situations. Think about one of the primary uses of metaphors, describing emotions, and consider some of your favorite. “My heart is a racehorse whenever I see her” is a good example of a metaphor with something abstract like love and something common like racehorses. Even if you’ve never actually been to the horse races, you know what they’re like. We’ve all seen them recreated on TV and in movies. We all know that concept. That’s what makes it a strong metaphor.

An entire poem can be a metaphor. Sometimes when writing a descriptive poem I find it fun to create a metaphor and stick with it for the entire poem. There is one I did recently about dust where I used the dust as a metaphor for my speaker throughout the poem. These can be enlightening because they give people a common object to look at and a complex object to relate it to.

Metaphors don’t always have to be bread and butter. By that metaphor I mean they don’t have to match perfectly every time. If I’m writing a longer metaphor, like the poem about dust, I like to work through the metaphor and lead the train of thought down the paths I need rather than the paths that don’t work. It’s all about finding a way to create an expectation away from notions that don’t fit with the metaphor.

You don’t have to use them! Even in poetry using metaphors is optional. If you don’t like them, you have their cousin similes which are just as useful as metaphors, although they don’t always pack the same punch. For example if we were writing a metaphor of someone’s life becoming horrible and saying it was like getting ripped apart by wolves, it’s a very different experience to literally have a man eaten by wolves, and to have his boss eat him like a wolf for a tension in a story.

Readers don’t have to understand or notice every metaphor. Not all readers are engaging with a story as something to analyze and that’s okay. Some of them just like to enjoy the pretty pictures. I know I do. That doesn’t mean you have to stop putting them in, it just means that you don’t have to be upset if they don’t see them. Also, sometimes metaphors come so naturally to a reader they won’t even notice you wrote it in. Those are the good ones.

It’s not necessary to only use real life things as metaphors. One of my favorite things to write are metaphors where the emotion or object we’re somewhat familiar with is actually describing an unknown new book specific thing in what feels like a reverse metaphor. For instance “His twisting mind was a jarraquin eating her lunch.” tells us more information about what “jarraquin” might be or mean rather than how his mind twisted. We know from personal experience what a “twisting mind” might look like and since we have a little context of “eating her lunch” we know this is probably an animal or a living thing of some sort. With “twisting” paired with it we can assume that it’s something that bends awkwardly and twists. This is one way we can clue in our readers using context clues in a very short description. We could even go on to say “his vivacious emotions are bright jarraquin plumage on his face” to add to a description of them using more vibrant words.

The last thing school might not have taught you about metaphor is that they’re great for arguments. If you want to argue with someone about something and you bring up a solid metaphor, oftentimes you can use it to support your argument through a wide variety of examples from the metaphor’s object and it will actually work until they realize they can say “yeah, but the man wasn’t eaten by wolves” to get out of it.

Do you have any tips for writing metaphors?
Do you have any metaphors you love to use?
Have you used a metaphor in a poem recently and you want to share?

Comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Finding Your Passion

One of the hardest things to capture as a writer is what you’re passionate about to keep writing consistently. Yeah, I’m talking about writers block.

There are literally hundreds of books on writers block out there. Seriously, I searched Amazon and I came up with about 400 results. Not all of those are books though. Several of them are journals rather than reading material.

For me, reading about solving writers block isn’t something that would help. The only way to really prove you don’t have writers block is to write. But, what do you write about? That’s what I want to talk about today.

Your Options

Here’s a list of things you can use to approach the “what do I want to write about” question.

To start, here are some questions geared to get you thinking about your passions.

  1. What do I love to hate?
  2. What do I talk about for way too long?
  3. Who was the subject of my last rant?
  4. What are my friends [or family] annoyed with me for talking about?
  5. How did [x] happen? [where x is something you keep thinking about]
  6. What was the most interesting thing I’ve heard recently?
  7. What was the last petition I signed?
  8. Who is my least favorite character of all time?
  9. If I list everything I do in a day, what gets me frustrated?
  10. What did I search most recently and why?

Another thing you could pick instead of passions is something random. Here are some prompts for finding a random thing to write about.

  1. Close your eyes.
    • Turn around once or just shake your head a few times.
    • Open your eyes.
    • First thing you see is the subject.
  2. Plug the word of the day into a rhyme dictionary and pick the third rhymed word.
    • That’s your word to either use as inspiration or directly.
    • If it doesn’t rhyme, use the word itself.
  3. Grab a book, or open your browser’s last history page.
    • Roll a 100 sided die and count to that word.
    • If it’s too high to count, like 100 or 99,
      • count the number of words per line
      • do a little math (your number divided by words per line) to find out how many lines down your number would be.
  4. What was the last thing you did physically?
    • That’s your prompt.
  5. Count how many pencils you can see.
    • then find a list of emotions
    • count down the list the number of pencils you counted.
    • Use that emotion.

If none of these prompts speak to you, you can roll a die using the dice roller I linked to earlier and a coin flipper. If the coin is heads, use the first list, if it’s tails, use the second. Then, roll the die and see what number prompt you get. If you get over 5 on the second list, pop up to the first list and use that number from there. If you don’t use a 10 sided die, you won’t get the last four prompts for the first list.

Once You Have a Subject

After you have a subject matter, writing could still end up being hard to do, so here’s how I deal with that. For me, it’s less about writing and more about accepting.

I often end up with writers block because I want to write something amazing, and I have to remind myself that failing isn’t a problem. I don’t have to write gold every time. So, if you’re feeling that same tension, I challenge you to write something bad. Give yourself the freedom to write poorly so you’re actually writing, and then do it a bunch. The more you take the trash out, so to speak, the more you’ll hone certain skills, like recognizing your own faults.

For me, I tend to use too many ‘s’ noises. I hop right to metaphors when I shouldn’t. I get a little preachy sometimes. I often change metaphors too fast. I also like to write poems with a mopey tone, and use obscure references that no one gets or that I invented.

I only know that because I’ve written bad poetry on purpose. I do it for a few reasons.

  1. It helps me identify what I think is bad.
  2. It shows off faults to look for in the future.
  3. Sometimes bad poetry can be made into a good theme.

On that last note, some of the poems that I wrote to be bad on purpose actually turn out pretty well. They need to be re-written, but they give me something to write about and that gives me focus. Once I have something I want to say, writing comes much easier.

That’s why I call it finding your passion rather than getting rid of writers block. We’re not removing a block on our creativity, we’re creating a riverbed to encourage our creativity to flow in the direction we want. In a sense, our creativity can stagnate in a lake and until it busts free, we’re stuck with the same ideas we wear at continuously. We have to find or create a new riverbed of passions to move away from our old beaten home.

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Was That Bieber?

Warning: This blog deals with mature content.

I heard a Justin Bieber song on the radio the other day, but I didn’t realize it was him. You see, I have come to know Bieber’s style as a quintessential love song, girl heart-throb thing with shallow lyrics aimed towards repetition and beat rather than actual substance or clear, healthy messages.

Some of his early work that I ran into listening to the radio were things like his song about not understanding women, which is laughable to me because it tries to classify an emotional, complex behavior of courtship into finite “yes or no” and while there are other songs I grew up with that had similar messages like “Hot ‘n Cold” by Katy Perry, “What Do You Mean” seemed to simplify it even further just demanding them to be one thing.

I suppose I should spoiler here and say that I’m going to explain what I mean by simplifying and I’m going to be talking about child inappropriate things.

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