Poem beginning with a line by Gail Newman

as if we could hear music inside the words
an ode we’ll hum while searching for a word 

a tune in the willows in the shimmy of Spring
overheard on the speaker while slicing a peach.

and as we were trying to explain all we’d heard
(the music in the words) further words emerged
ancient words: abrasive like peace 
equivocal like love, subtle as a lampshade.

we ran our tongues round these words 
made of the remains of tiny sea creatures 
from a time before words
only the music of waves sifting and settling. 

they were the mouths inside our words
a chorale tuned in silence profound
never to convey the music in words 
(these crummy words: this noun, this adjective). 

and surely more words will follow 
and more music too, a recursive tumble
uncovering wonders, uncovering nothing
and over and over, again and again.


Image: Depiction of coral in the Juliana Anicia Codex, a 6th-century copy of Dioscorides‘ De Materia Medica c/- Wikipedia. Today (28 January) I’m hosting the bar at Dverse the poets’ pub and we’re focussing on finding that fantastic first line. Here’s Gail Newman’s original poem Trust. You can read more of her work here and here.

And since this poem is about words and music (kinda), here’s something beautiful: Anna Netrebko, Elīna Garanča singing the Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes – wonders indeed.

37 thoughts on “Poem beginning with a line by Gail Newman

  1. I love the third stanza most especially. And as I’m going along reading, mesmorized by the pacing, the words themselves, then you throw this at me “(these crummy words, this lousy pen). ” WOW! That’s like a slap in the face in the midst of these other flowing words!

    By the way….sadly, I don’t think you’ve followed the prompt. Go back and read the prompt again.

    Laura asks us to use one of the lines she’s provided…in fact before she provides 6 lines she says “I’ve selected some final lines of poetry. Choose ONE and write you poem as continuation where the poet left off, thematically, in the same mood, rather than literally. ” Nowhere that I can see does she suggest we can choose our own poem or poetry line to use for the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But… what a fine following poem, prompted by that first line borrowed from Gail Newman. You technically missed one prompt but met your own? Either way, I really liked this. That fourth stanza… yeah. The ‘mouths inside our words’ says a lot.

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  2. You chose the same prompt as I did, and like me wrote of ancient words, but went a step further, back to a time before words, as so brilliantly expressed in the third stanza. The image you’ve chosen is kind of haunting because the coral looks dead…could this have been a premonition?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You hooked me with ‘a tune in the willows in the shimmy of Spring’, Peter. I love the way you play with words, the rhymes, the phrase ‘subtle as lampshade’ and the lines:
    ‘we ran our tongues round these words
    made of the remains of tiny sea creatures
    from a time before words
    just the music of waves sifting and settling.’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is gorgeously rendered, Peter! 😀 I especially love; “they were the mouths inside our words, a chorale tuned in silence profound,never to convey the music in words.” Everything about this poem sings! 💝💝 Inspired~

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really like this, Peter. I love the flow and sound of it–the music in the words, and the words full of music. And the ancient tongues and mouths in words–the flow of the universe and time, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The imagery is amazing and while the first line was an absolute banger, I loved these the most:

    “equivocal like love, subtle as lampshade.

    we ran our tongues round these words
    made of the remains of tiny sea creatures”

    It’s beautiful and out of this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This piece is awesome, and it illustrates our prompt very well; as it should. You did so much research, you gave us a lot of latitude as to what form we used.I went with a modified Renga; lone of my favorites. Your wordsmanship was outstanding, as noted.

    Like

  8. As if and only if: that’s the deal we get with this dirty speech called poetry, humming heavenly nothings over and over. It’s just dirt, most common thing on Earth.

    Like

  9. You start with someone else’s line, but as you made it yours, I realized we all start with “someone else’s line” — that indescribable moment when the Muse tells you how to start.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I had fun running my tongue all over your poem here, 👅 It was quite decadent and I enjoyed the variety in your words and flow, it was a journey through time. The ending lines, “uncovering wonders, uncovering nothing, and over and over, again and again” is so true, the music and words will live on, a lovely thing! 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  11. and surely more words will follow
    and more music too, a recursive tumble
    uncovering wonders, uncovering nothing
    and over and over, again and again.

    It is so interesting how we keep making new creations from words repeated over and over again!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So much insight in this poem, Peter. I absolutely loved:

    “we ran our tongues round these words
    made of the remains of tiny sea creatures
    from a time before words
    just the music of waves sifting and settling. “

    Like

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