Passion For Poetry

Prose Poems

Be still my heart. She's back in the saddle, folks, with a brand new form for you. Well technically the form isn't new, just me writing about it is new. :-)

There's been much debate as to whether prose poetry is actually poetry, but I suspect this is an issue that will never be resolved. As the name implies, the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry.

The natural rhythm of thought can lead to lyrical cadences in a prose poem and it often holds internal rhyme, alliteration and repetition. The prose poem can be both lyrical and subtle, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects.

Prose poetry does not treat the line as a formal unit. It has no repetitive pattern of rhythm or meter. It is continuous, without line breaks. It can be of any length and may be a single sentence or sentence fragment, or several paragraphs or pages. It includes heightened imagery or emotional effect and often breaks the rules associated with true prose.

It is widely believed that the form originated in nineteenth century France to lessen the dependence on conventional uses of line in verse. At this time, French poetry was dominated by the Alexandrine, a rather strict and demanding form. The form spread rapidly to the more innovative poetic circles and different groups developed their own sets of rules and restrictions, redefining the form.

If you enjoy the imagery of poetry but find yourself feeling constrained by form or line breaks, prose poetry is for you. Think of it as a bridge between free verse and prose.

Rules: there aren't any really
Form: no form or syllable count or rhyme scheme either
Schematic: write until you're done, break into paragraphs of any length.

I did honestly try to come up with an original example for you, but ended up with two regular poems (one that rhymes and one that doesn't) and the beginnings of a short story that may turn into a novella. So instead I'll give you a couple of prose poems by Oscar Wilde for your example:


When Narcissus died the pool of his pleasure changed from a cup of sweet waters into a cup of salt tears, and the Oreads came weeping through the woodland that they might sing to the pool and give it comfort.

And when they saw that the pool had changed from a cup of sweet waters into a cup of salt tears, they loosened the green tresses of their hair and cried to the pool and said, 'We do not wonder that you should mourn in this manner for Narcissus, so beautiful was he.'

'But was Narcissus beautiful?' said the pool.

'Who should know that better than you?' answered the Oreads. 'Us did he ever pass by, but you he sought for, and would lie on your banks and look down at you, and in the mirror of your waters he would mirror his own beauty.'

And the pool answered, 'But I loved Narcissus because, as he lay on my banks and looked down at me, in the mirror of his eyes I saw ever my own beauty mirrored.


Now when the darkness came over the earth Joseph of Arimathea, having lighted a torch of pinewood, passed down from the hill into the valley. For he had business in his own home.

And kneeling on the flint stones of the Valley of Desolation he saw a young man who was naked and weeping. His hair was the colour of honey, and his body was as a white flower, but he had wounded his body with thorns and on his hair had he set ashes as a crown.

And he who had great possessions said to the young man who was naked and weeping, 'I do not wonder that your sorrow is so great, for surely He was a just man.'

And the young man answered, 'It is not for Him that I am weeping, but for myself. I too have changed water into wine, and I have healed the leper and given sight to the blind. I have walked upon the waters, and from the dwellers in the tombs I have cast out devils. I have fed the hungry in the desert where there was no food, and I have raised the dead from their narrow houses, and at my bidding, and before a great multitude, of people, a barren fig-tree withered away. All things that this man has done I have done also. And yet they have not crucified me.'

1 comment:

Bish Denham said...

These are beautiful! I am reminded of Kahlil Gibran.