When Elizabeth Barrett Browning published Poems in 1850, I doubt if she would have imagined that a sonnet in that collection (“How Do I Love Thee?” Sonnet 43) would become world famous or that its title would be the source for a prompt topic on a 21st century blog. But here it is …
Lest you begin to think that our prompt this week is cupid-driven, let me assure you that we’re not going to write love poems—we’re just using a certain spin on a famous love poem as a prompt title to jump-start our writing.
Here’s the idea: Adopt the persona of one of your neighbors and write a poem that tells how that neighbor sees (thinks about) you. You may prefer to be serious with this or you may go for a lighter, humorous tone.
This week, pay special attention to sound (the music in your poem) through use of alliteration, assonance, dissonance, anaphora, and internal and scattered rhymes.
Some Things to Think About:
1. What does the neighbor think of you? Why?
2. What does the neighbor believe about you? Why?
3. What does the neighbor hear through your open windows?
4. What does the neighbor see or hear of your personal life?
5. What does the neighbor think he or she knows about you (correctly or incorrectly)?
6. Can you use the famous line from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” (“Good neighbors make good fences”) as an epigraph or to enhance meaning within your poem? "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost
7. On the flip side, what don’t your neighbors “see” about you and your life?
8. An alternative idea is to write a poem about a neighbor (or neighbors); and a second alternative is to write a poem about the image at the top.
Alas, I wasn’t able to find any example poems that quite fit this prompt, but I did find one “neighbor” poem that you might enjoy: "The Good Neighbour" by John Burnside