Poetry Challenge from Lady Darkstar: The Triolet

Dear Primula, Shelob, Dr. Gamgee, and All Fellow Takers-Up of Prim's Flung Poetic Gauntlet,

I've greatly enjoyed seeing the efforts inspired by Lady Luthien's poetry challenge, especially those of Dr. Gamgee (whom I suspect--correct?--to be of the English-professorial persuasion). Dr. G. understood well that meaning is not truly changed merely by rearranging words in a different pattern on the page (though emphasis or mood can be altered interestingly) but only by actually breaking the lines and reconnecting the fragments into new patterns.

I thought you all might enjoy, as a next contest, an actual form of verse that makes crucial use of the kind of poetic device you were trying, which is called "enjambment" (yes, I know it sounds like Sam getting his hand stuck in the preserves jar at Bag End, but the term refers to "the continuation of the sense of a phrase beyond the end of a line"--Webster's).

This form is called the triolet. It most frequently makes use of iambic tetrameter as its meter--that is, four iambs, or short-long "feet," in one line, thus: ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM (another war-march for the Ents, maybe?). The triolet has eight lines of such meter, which make use of two rhymes only (A and B and the words rhymed with them). The first and second lines are repeated at the beginning and end of the verse, while the first line is used yet a third time as the fourth line.

Below is a sample, a poem by Thomas Hardy entitled "At a Hasty Wedding" (about a couple who "had to" get married). However, the tight form, with its claustrophobically-enclosed feel and "tail-swallowing" structure, would be excellently suited to Tolkienian themes and to several objects, characters, and events from Middle-Earth. Think of the Ring itself, Eowyn's sense of being "a wild thing trammeled," and Frodo and Sam's frustrating circular journey along the peaks of the Emyn Muil--and I know you'll come up with others!

Shelob, how about a yarn--a spider-silk one, of course--on spinning your webs in the dark caves of the Nameless Pass? The triolet goes round in a radial form that mimics the symmetry of your weaving, so this would be a perfect chance to snare a tasty mortal--er--morsel in yet another fateful "looming." By the way, didja know I'm your next-door neighbor? If Nashville (where the Daughter of Ungoliant lurks) is Cirith Ungol, then Murfreesboro (where the Lady D. languishes) has got to be Mordor! And because the Singer of Sauron has sworn a vow to care for all the servants of her dear departed Lord, she will always look after "his cat" (though "she own[ed] Him not")--at least by buying her a saucer of [fermented] milk at the Prancing Pony of an evening! Date?

(A)If hours be years, the twain are blest
(B)For now they solace swift desire
(a)With bonds of every bond the best--
(a)If hours be years. The twain are blest
(a)Do eastern stars slope never west
(b)Nor pallid ashes follow fire;
(A)If hours be years, the twain are blest
(B)For now they solace swift desire.

Now get started, everybody, and make your metrical "feet" Proud--Dr. G., at least, will approve of ProudFEET!


Doc R./Lady D.