My task for this month of May for Dverse Poets is the ‘lai’ form. https://dversepoets.com/2019/05/09/more-lai-and-lai-nouveau/
This is derived from French poetry and involves a tight rhyme and syllable scheme. I also wanted to write about my encounter with a frog and snake when waiting by a friend’s pond while the car was being repaired. Would this form work for this wild encounter?
On time well spent ( Nouveau Lai)
Stay still by the pond
Only time has gone.
With those legs so long
To those depths belong
Of cold without sun.
Before the day’s done
The birds still their song.
A snake creeps along.
Back and forth darts tongue.
Where is right and wrong?
Only time has gone
Stay still by the pond.
Frog on phone in May ( Lai Form)
This frog could be friend
So photo must send.
All follow the trend
To share without end.
Watch life learn to fend
For food not a friend.
I had been quite transfixed by this wonderful wild encounter and lost in time and also knew I wanted to write about the experience. As it involves a frog and snake it brought to mind D.H. Lawrence’s poem ‘The Snake’. I thought free verse, with one thought or impression to each line might be worth trying. We were also at a recent talk at the Alajar Renaissance Festival listening to some local poets. One topic was about Magia, the magic philosophies that brought about the renaissance and liberation from religious thought to scientific discovery. The talk was about the unifying power of ‘poesia’or poetry within nature.
I was inspired by Frank Hubeny’s poem https://frankhubeny.blog/author/frankhubeny/ because my encounter was in the soft light by a pond and these were mysterious things. The snake did not eat the frog but was perhaps on the look out for reasonable sized fish. It was not interested in insects, tiddlers and tadpoles which were all in abundance. Both animals remained so still for so long and so did I! Were we all watching each other?Perhaps a lot is scientifically known about frogs and snakes and a lot of animal stories have made characters of these creatures,but being so close to both these wild animals accentuated for me their mysteriousness and evoked that sense of wonder if not awe with the evolutionary magic of the natural world. We do not know everything about their worlds and we cannot capture everything on photo on our phones.
After desperately trying to clear the memory of my phone for a photo of this frog so close by it moved away.Of course! A bit later the frog came back onto one of the lily pads. And then the snake began its arrival, slithering so easily, then vertically down into the water and then swimming really fast. It didn’t seem to catch anything but perhaps it did and was then still when digesting it. I have to admit to being a little nervous but identification suggested a harmless grass snake. By that time my phone was dying so I had to sit and just watch. It became a competition of who was going to keep still the longest. Frog, snake or me! This became a much deeper experience and observation rather than trying to take endless photos which get lost in clouds!
Notes on the Form
The Nouveau Lai is a five syllabled couplet followed by a two syllable line. The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine and the couplets must rhyme with each other, as the two syllable lines must also rhyme. In English this line is probably the most difficult part of the poem. French is also a syllable timed language unlike English which has stress/accent on certain syllables and many words can also be unstressed eg prepositions.
The Lai is a very old French form and tradition states that the short line must not be indented, it must be left dressed to the poem. This is known as Arbre Fourchu (Forked Tree) there is a pattern meant to be set up as a tree.
The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine. The number of stanzas is not fixed and each stanza has its own rhyme pattern. The rhyme pattern is… a. a. b. a. a. b. a. a. b.