Dverse Poets – Meeting the Bar

Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 18...

Image via Wikipedia

What a great exercise Dverse has come up with this week! Thanks to Claudia and Zsa from the zumpoems site

The task is to take a passage of prose and, following several steps, ‘translate’ it into poetry.

As suggested I went to Project Gutenberg Australia and picked the opening of a  Louisa May Alcott piece ‘On Picket Duty’.

October moonlight shone clearly on the solitary tree, draped with
gray moss, scarred by lightning and warped by wind, looking like a
venerable warrior, whose long campaign was nearly done; and
underneath was posted the guard of four. Behind them twinkled many
camp-fires on a distant plain, before them wound a road ploughed by
the passage of an army, strewn with the relics of a rout. On the
right, a sluggish river glided, like a serpent, stealthy, sinuous,
and dark, into a seemingly impervious jungle; on the left, a
Southern swamp filled the air with malarial damps, swarms of noisome
life, and discordant sounds that robbed the hour of its repose. The
men were friends as well as comrades, for though gathered from the
four quarters of the Union, and dissimilar in education, character,
and tastes, the same spirit animated all; the routine of camp life
threw them much together, and mutual esteem soon grew into a bond of
mutual good fellowship. (http://freeread.com.au/ebooks00/fr100279.txt)

It needed very little change to become poetry according to my tastes…a testimony to the quality of the prose as it stood.

On Picket Duty (found from a story by Louisa May Alcott)

October moonlight on solitary tree,
trunk moss draped, lightning scarred, wind warped­-
warrior campaign nearly done.
Underneath, a guard of four.

Behind camp-fires on distant plain.
Before, a road, army-ploughed
strewn with battle relics.

To the right, a sluggish river slides
through impervious jungle;

To the left, swamp air heavy with malarial damps,
discordant sounds, air robbed of repose.

Four men –  friends, comrades,
from four quarters of the Union.
Unalike in education, character, tastes,
fired with the same spirit;
camp life nurturing esteem,
a bond of brotherhood.


About SallyJ

I am a writer and a poet.
This entry was posted in Dversepoetry, editing, free verse, online writing, poet, poetry, Uncategorized, writer, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Dverse Poets – Meeting the Bar

  1. claudia says:

    cool sally…found the original piece on gutenberg and really like what you’ve done..esp. the first stanza makes for a great opening…maybe would be cool if you’d include the original text underneath your poem, so people can compare the source and what you’ve done..added..stripped away and so on..?

    • SallyJ says:

      Good idea Claudia…I did this quickly as last week I missed the deadline – will go back and edit…having said that it would then become obvious how few changes I have made and how lazy I was compared to some of the brilliant responses to this challenge!

  2. wolfsrosebud says:

    nice selection… the poem easier to read… woke up the senses

  3. brian says:

    you did realy well tightening it down to give just the essence of the piece, i like what you did with it…you give a great sense of atmosphere in this…i would agree the poetry for me is easier to read as the images flow much faster…

  4. Yousei Hime says:

    Nicely done. I agree with the quality of the original prose. Nice to read this after my own choice for the prompt.

  5. zumpoems says:

    Great choice of text!

    I loved the choices you made in the creation of the new poem from the very start. “Shone clearly” gets appropriately dropped as superfluous in the new context you create. You substitute “trunk moss draped” with “draped with gray moss” and so on. Very instructive to look at the intelligent and poetic-driven choices you make. Really compact and poetic final result!

  6. Aida says:

    Really nice piece. I especially like the way you’ve implied equality, the subtle philosophy is what makes this so unique.

  7. neat,
    keep creative.


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