MD Kerr

Day 27: 116

A coupling poem

Handwritten poem

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Let me not to the marriage of true minds
alone aspire: let summer have its sweat.
Admit impediments. Love is not love,
some mystic noun – it’s promises, a threat
which alters when it alteration finds
as moths’ probosces stretch for nectar’s cleft,
or bends with the remover to remove
because it must. That doesn’t mean it’s left –
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
a stain like rust or brightening dye. But love
that looks on tempests and is never shaken?
Handle that with tongs, a viton glove.
It is the star to every wandering bark,
adrift and craving wind, the glint you meet
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Before you sink, my sweet, admit defeat.
Love’s not Time’s fool. Though rosy lips and cheeks
may crumple, no-one whom you love can age.
Within his bending sickle’s compass, come
and yell: you’re young while blood and life rampage.
Love alters, not with his brief hours and weeks,
but years. The coastline shifts, the rock is bared
but bears it out. Even to the edge of doom,
the fossils know where rock-pool colours flared.
If this be error and upon me proved,
if love’s unchanged, however pushed and shoved,
I never writ nor no man ever loved.
Its agates show us how its crystals moved.

Many thanks to for the wonderfully challenging prompt to write a Shakespeare mash-up: I'm still feeling really rubbish and feverish, so I very nearly chickened out and wrote a flu-nonet instead, but I ended up going with it and am so grateful I did. One of the best parts of writing a poem a day, especially with such interesting prompts, is finding out what you write when you really think you can't write anything. I decided to write a coupling poem, which had an extra interesting challenge, because that's often easiest when you want to disagree with the original – but actually just amending it became a more interesting exploration than straight-out disagreeing.

In honour of the original, I kept to a loose iambic pentameter, and retained the alternate rhyme by making each pair of lines I added rhyme. At the end, I finished with envelope rhyme (which seemed a good coupling-poem answer to a sonnet's rhyming couplet) and had the immense satisfaction of making those final two lines actually rhyme with stuff in modern English!


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making my poems #FreeForPoets to write hybrid poemsAll my poems on this site are now #FreeForPoets to play with, to write hybrid forms such as glosas, coupling poems, golden shovels, acrostics, centos, and erasures. Full permissions here: #FreeForPoets.