Can you help with the form of the poem "Black Monday Lovesong" by A.S.J. Tessimond?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are numerous forms available to the poet, and many versions of these forms. Form may refer to the poem's rhyme, meter, or the actual structure that the poet uses to construct his or her poem.

In A.S.J. Terrimond's poem, "Black Monday Lovesong," for instance, the author uses stanzas, but not the traditional four-line stanza. The first stanza consists of twenty-two lines and the second stanza is made up of six lines. We don't see a four-line stanza until the poem's final four lines. My impression of the author's purpose, as he describes the dance of love—literally and figuratively—is to mimic the physical movements a dancer follows, as well as the emotional ups and downs that lovers experience as they try to follow each other throughout the "fancy footwork" involved in a relationship.

The first line uses repetition to convey the sense that the poem's major theme concentrates on "love's dance."

The rest of this poem concentrates on creating a to-and-fro movement such as dancers follow, one leading the other, much the way the emotional aspect of a relationship moves back and forth.

The second stanza lists images all preceded with the word "And," which make the lines appear to pass quickly, as if the dancers are spinning madly out of control in their dance, and we can infer also, in their relationship.

The final stanza makes use of a deadly word on the dance floor: "falter." The dancers have stumbled, the swaying motion and swift movement has ended, and both dancers seem to trip along in separate directions, hoping to find their perfect "dance partner" somewhere else.

In terms of the poem's form, it is important to note the rhyme. Throughout the entire poem—except for the last two lines—the poem is made up of rhyming couplets, which are lines that are paired together with the same rhyming sound…found with the last word of each line. For example, the first two lines rhyme—having the same sound found in the last word of each line:

In love's dances, in love's dances

One retreats and one advances.

"Dances" and "advances" rhyme. As mentioned, this pattern continues until the last two lines of the poem that provide repetition, rather than rhyme, by using the same word at the end of two successive lines: "time."

However, it is the meter (rhythmic structure) in the poem that is essential in creating that two-and-fro motion in the poem—but where we often find ten syllables per line, this is not the case with this poem: there are eight. Where a line might consist of ten syllables (as with Shakespearean sonnets)—with an emphasis on the second syllable…emphasizing five stressed syllables in each line—this poet does not use such a form. Here the stress starts on the first syllable, stressing every other syllable.

In the following line, the syllable or word that is bolded is stressed:

In love's dan-ces, in love's dan-ces...

The hyphen in "dances" shows that the word has two syllables. This pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables gives the poem a sense of swaying, as in a dance.

The meter of the poem is trochaic:

…a "foot" consisting of an accented and unaccented syllable.

[A "foot" is:

metrical unit composed of stressed and unstressed syllables…]

Because the poem has four stressed and four unstressed syllables ("feet"), it is written in trochaic tetrameter.


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