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Friday, April 4, 2014

Comments on Egypt's Intifada

Egypt’s Intifada

A tsunami of human proportion
Ends backpacking from Egypt to Jordan. 

The olive trees spilled their fruits on the streets
And caused politicians to quit their seats. 

On the tombs of the Pharaohs much wailing
Because! They have been barred, from e-mailing;

An immense volcano has erupted;
Peace of a nation so vastly ruptured.

Hosni Mubarak surfs in Waterloo;
Obama's West Wing ponders what to do. 

 The water is deadly cold on all fronts;
 Egyptians strike back at Mubarak's stunts.

 Now the eighty-two year old President
 Hosni Mubarak, is their detriment. 

Years of bottled anger sadly unleashed;
Genie in bottle looks for a new niche. 

Dinosaur, please go with your monarchy,
Jobs and ladders needed, not poverty. 

The virus of the Jasmine has attacked;
 Mubarak measures ways to save his back. 

Meanwhile cutthroats, thieves and liars are out,
Police vexed as hell, since they lost their clout. 

World watches and waits to see what comes next,
The Arab Spring has become hypertext.

For years the world thought Egypt was peaceful;
Now Pharaoh must listen to his people. 

Move fast to kneel and bake the people's loaves;
Guests are fleeing by the thousands in droves. 

Stop the hemorrhaging of your people now;
From US come the building blocks of know how. 

Deliver on democracy's promise;
Folks don't care for your bloody synopsis! 

Bring out paper plates without the pat-down;
Let them say who should wear Pharaoh's last crown. 

President Mubarak! You must man-up;
Stubborn ways, and rigid mind, please give-up.

Democracy is asleep, for so long;
"Change is coming", El Baradei tells throng.

(January 30, 2011)

 Genre      -               Social Commentary
Form       -               Nineteen Couplet Stanzas
Tags        -               Closed couplets, open couplets, enjambment, heroic verse

Comments on – Egypt’s Intifada 2011

After watching daily CNN’s coverage of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the idea came that this revolt should be captured poetically in a form most appropriate for such a
dramatic and deadly event. The heroic couplet was just the right form for such a deadly event. “Egypt’s Intifada 2011” is a social commentary poem narrated in nineteen stanzas of rhyming heroic couplets; of course, heroic couplets are always written in iambic pentameter. Here is a sample taken from this 21st century poem “Egypt’s Intifada 2011” showing the use of both closed and open couplets and how they rhyme:


Egypt’s Intifada

A tsunami of human proportion
Ceased back-packing from Egypt to Jordan;                                Open Couplet

The olive trees spilled their fruits on the streets
And caused politicians to quit their seats;                      Open Couplet

On the tombs of the Pharaohs much wailing
Because! They have been barred, from e-mailing;       Open Couplet

An immense volcano has erupted;
Peace of a nation so vastly ruptured.                              Closed Couplet

 Hosni Mubarak surfs in Waterloo;
 Obama's West Wing ponders what to do.                      Closed Couplet 


Notice that the heroic couplet is always written with a rhyming iambic pentameter often forming a distinct rhetorical as well as metrical unit. The origin of the heroic couplet in English poetry is unknown, but Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century was the first to make extensive use of it as shown in the following examples:

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) the Father of English Literature is considered the greatest poet of the middle Ages. He is credited for his use of heroic verses and in them he used open couplets and closed couplets in “Canterbury Tales” (The Plowman’s Tale).

The “Canterbury Tales” a collection of frame stories between 1387 and 1400 which is a story of a group of thirty folks who travelled as pilgrims to Canterbury in England. These pilgrims were drawn from all sectors of the society and they told stories to each other as a means of killing time while journeying to Canterbury.

Also Geoffrey Chaucer used open and closed couplets in “The Legend of Cleopatra” one of the ten moving parts in the “Legend of Good Women” created from a dream vision he had. Examples were these open and closed couplets are located are shown in Table below:  



The Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer
(Excerpt)

The Plowman’s
(Excerpt)



Syllabic Count

Iambic
Pentameter

With hym was a Plowman, was his brother
That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother;
A trewe swynkere and a good was he,
Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee.
God loved he best with al his hole herte
At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte,
And thane his neighebor right as hym-selve.
He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.

With hym ׀ was a ׀ Plowman, ׀ was his ׀ brother ׀
That hadde ׀ ylad of  ׀ dong ful  ׀ many a  ׀ fother; ׀
A tre ׀ we swyn ׀ kere and  ׀ a good ׀ was he, ׀
Lyvynge ׀ in pees  ׀ and par ׀ fit cha ׀ ritee. ׀
God loved  ׀ he best ׀ with al  ׀ his hol ׀ e herte ׀
At al ׀ le tymes ׀, thogh him  ׀ gamed ׀ or smerte, ׀
And tha ׀ ne his  ׀ neighebor ׀ right as ׀ hym-selve. ׀
He wolde ׀ thresshe,׀ and ther ׀ to dyke ׀ and delve, ׀
For Crist  ׀ es sake, ׀ for e ׀ very ׀ povre wight ׀
Without ׀ en hire,  ׀ if it ׀ lay in ׀ his might. ׀


5 feet
5 feet

5 feet
5 feet
5 feet
5 feet
5 feet

5 feet

5 feet
5 feet

With hym was a Plowman, was his brother )                  
That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother; )  Open Couplet
               
A trewe swynkere and a good was he,)
Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee.                   )   Closed Couplet
                               
God loved he best with al his hole herte      )
At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte, )  Open Couplet

And thane his neighebor right as hym-selve.    )
He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve, ) Open Couplet

For Cristes sake, for every povre wight    )
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might         )  Closed Couplet


The Legend of Cleopatra
by Geoffrey Chaucer
(Excerpt)

After the deeth of Tholomee the king, )
That al Egipte hadde in his governing,)  Open Couplet
Regned his quene Cleopataras;           )
Til on a tyme befel ther swiche a cas,)  Closed Couplet
That out of Rome was sent a senatour,)
For to conqueren regnes and honour    )  Open Couplet
Unto the toun of Rome, as was usaunce,)
To have the world unto her obeisaunce; )  Closed Couplet
And, sooth to seye, Antonius was his name.)
Sfil hit, as Fortune him oghte a shame          )  Open Couplet
       
The heroic couplet became the principal meter used in drama about the mid-17th century, and its form was perfected by John Dryden and Alexander Pope in late 17th and early
18th centuries, examples from Dryden and Pope are shown below:

John Dryden (1631-1700) an English poet from Northamptonshire, England used both open and closed couplets in poems in heroic verses as shown in the poem “A Prologue”.

A Prologue
(Excerpt)

Gallants, a bashful poet bids me say,          
He's come to lose his maidenhead to-day. 
Be not too fierce; for he's but green of age
And ne'er, till now, debauched upon the stage.
He wants the suffering part of resolution,  
And comes with blushes to his execution. 
Ere you deflower his Muse, he hopes the pit 
Will make some settlement upon his wit. 


Gallants, a bashful poet bids me say,         ) 
He's come to lose his maidenhead to-day. )   Closed Couplet

Be not too fierce; for he's but green of age,      )
And ne'er, till now, debauched upon the stage. )  Open Couplet

He wants the suffering part of resolution, 
And comes with blushes to his execution.  )  Open Couplet

Ere you deflower his Muse, he hopes the pit ) 
Will make some settlement upon his wit.      )   Open Couplet

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) died at age fifty-six was a linen merchant of Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, Great Britain. He was famous for his use of heroic couplets as per excerpts taken from poems “Eloisa to Abelard” and An Essay on Man: Epistle II”
as shown below:

Eloisa to Abelard
(Alexander Pope)

Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at your altar’s foot we lay
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?

Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,  )
When victims at your altar’s foot we lay       )  Open Couplet

Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,        )
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?  )  Open Couplet
  
An Essay on Man: Epistle II
Alexander Pope
(Excerpt)

I.
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

I.
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; )
The proper study of mankind is man.               )  Closed Couplet

Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, )
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:   )  Closed Couplet

With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, )
With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,   )  Closed Couplet

He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; )
In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;   ) Closed Couplet

In doubt his mind or body to prefer;        )
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err; )  Closed Couplet

Alike in ignorance, his reason such,           )
Whether he thinks too little, or too much: )  Closed Couplet

Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd;  )
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;              )  Closed Couplet

Created half to rise, and half to fall;         )
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; )  Closed Couplet

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd:  )
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!       )  Closed Couplet

Pope opined throughout the poem on principles that guide human actions as they relate to narcissism and achievement. He mused that narcissism and achievement are not contrasting principles, but rather concomitant principles where narcissism played a regulatory role and achievement is there to regulate the actions of homo-sapiens.

Here are some more examples of poets who used open couplets. John Donne (1572-1631) used them in the poem “A Hymn to Christ at the Author’s Last Going into Germany”.  Here is excerpt taken from his poems shown below:

A Hymn To Christ At The Author's Last Going Into Germany
John Donne

In what torn ship soever I embark,
That ship shall be my emblem of thy Ark;
What sea soever swallow me, that flood
Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood;
Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes,
Which, though they turn away sometimes,
They never will despise.

In what torn ship soever I embark,
That ship shall be my emblem of thy Ark;   Open Couplet

What sea soever swallow me, that flood
Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood;       Open Couplet

Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes,     Open Couplet

Which, though they turn away sometimes,
They never will despise.                               Closed Couplet

 So too was the Anglo-Irish poet Sir John Denham (1615-1619) used couplets in the poem “Cooper’s Hill”.  Here is excerpt shown below:

Cooper's Hill
(Sir John Denham)

My eye, descending from the Hill, surveys
Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays.
Thames! the most loved of all the Ocean's sons,
By his old sire, to his embraces runs,
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity;
Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,
Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold:
His genuine and less guilty wealth t'explore,
Search not his bottom, but survey his shore,

My eye, descending from the Hill, surveys
Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays.  Closed Couplet

Thames! the most loved of all the Ocean's sons,
By his old sire, to his embraces runs,               Closed Couplet

Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal life to meet eternity;        Closed Couplet

Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,
Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold:      Closed Couplet
 
His genuine and less guilty wealth t'explore,
Search not his bottom, but survey his shore,  Closed Couplet

Samuel Johnson from Lichfield, Staffordshire, England born 18 September 1709 and died 13 December 1784 used couplets in the poem “Vanity of Human Wishes” which quite frankly is an opinion poem on politics and societal living of his day. Johnson poetically opined throughout the poem that happiness can be attained only through virtuous action that flows from God’s infinite love. An excerpt of this poem is shown below:

The Vanity of Human Wishes
The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, Imitated

But scarce observ'd the Knowing and the Bold,
Fall in the gen'ral Massacre of Gold;
Wide-wasting Pest! that rages unconfin'd,
And crouds with Crimes the Records of Mankind,
For Gold his Sword the Hireling Ruffian draws,
For Gold the hireling Judge distorts the Laws;
Wealth heap'd on Wealth, nor Truth nor Safety buys,
The Dangers gather as the Treasures rise.

But scarce observ'd the Knowing and the Bold,
Fall in the gen'ral Massacre of Gold;       Closed Couplet

Wide-wasting Pest! that rages unconfin'd,
And crouds with Crimes the Records of Mankind,    Open Couplet

For Gold his Sword the Hireling Ruffian draws,
For Gold the hireling Judge distorts the Laws;      Closed Couplet

Wealth heap'd on Wealth, nor Truth nor Safety buys,
The Dangers gather as the Treasures rise.  Closed Couplet


Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) the Irish poet used open and closed couplets in heroic verses in poem “The Deserted Village. Excerpt from this poem is shown below:

The Deserted Village
(Excerpt)

Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,                
Where health and plenty cheared the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,             
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed,
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,            
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,            
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!

 Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheared the labouring swain,  Closed Couplet 
                                                                       
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, 
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed,  Open Couplet

Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,  
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,  Closed Couplet

How often have I loitered o'er thy green, 
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!  )  Closed Couplet


John Keats (1795-1821) the 18th century English romantic poet from Moorgate, London, England used couplets in heroic verses as shown in poem “Lamia”. 

36. Lamia

Part I

Upon a time, before the faery broods
Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
Before King Oberon's bright diadem,
Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem,
Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
From rushes green and brakes, and cowslip'd lawns,

Upon a time, before the faery broods
Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,    Closed Couplet

Before King Oberon's bright diadem,
Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem,    Closed Couplet

Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
From rushes green and brakes, and cowslip'd lawns,   Closed Couplet


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