The process of writing a poem is a process of reflection. Many, if not most, poems are reflections on one subject or another. This week, the prompt is to write a poem about reflections. Obviously, the “territory” is wide with lots of possibilities for content.
1. You might write a reflection or meditation about a particular subject or you may write about a literal reflection (the moon in a window, your own face on a pond, a stranger in a mirror, etc.). Try to focus on the “here and now” of your reflection (stay in the moment to create a sense of immediacy in your poem), and remember that a good poem has two parts to its content: the obvious and the underlying.
2. Be conscious of caesuras in your poem (a noticeable pause in a line of poetry). Be aware that all of your pauses don’t have to occur with lines breaks. Caesuras are strong silences within lines of poetry. One of the best examples is Alexander Pope’s “To err is human || to forgive divine.” The vertical lines indicate the caesuras.
Here are examples of caesuras from an old nursery rhyme:
Sing a song of sixpence, || a pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds, || baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, || the birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish, || to set before the king?
And here are examples from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”:
Once upon a midnight dreary, || while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious || volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, || suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, || rapping at my chamber door.
’Tis some visitor,’ || I muttered, || `tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more.’
3. Work on a sense of rhythm in your poem. By that I don’t mean a sing-song rhythm but something subtler—a deeper kind of music. Read your poem aloud to yourself as you write it. Try writing in iambs.
1. A reflection is a kind of meditation (What do you think about or meditate on?).
2. A reflection may be heat, light, sounds, or an image.
3. A reflection might be careful or long concentration or thought.
4. A reflection may be thought, idea, or opinion that results from concentrated thought on a particular subject.
5. A reflection may be a manifestation or result (for example, His achievements are a reflection of his hard work.)
6. Reflections may be theological (religious), philosophical.
7. Reflections may be on one’s own character, (flaws, strong points).
8. A reflection may be based on a quotation or popular saying.
9. A reflection may be based on a memory (the past) or a person.
10. A reflection may be funny.
“Reflections” by Yusef Komunyakaa
“Reflections on History in Missouri” by Constance Urdang
“Interrupted Meditation” by Robert Hass
“Meditation Under Stars” by George Meredith